20 December 2015 ~ 4 Comments

Fast After Fifty — 7 Points I Learned from this New Book

Seven takeaways from this recently (2015) released title Fast After 50 — How to Race Strong for the Rest of Your Life. By Joel Friel, author of other best-selling books like The Cyclist’s (or Triathlete’s) Training Bible, The Paleo Diet for Athletes etc. Incidentally, he just turned 70.

I didn’t start a consistent exercise regiment, until I started running when I was in my 50s. I am now 61, so this material is SO applicable for me. I never knew what it was to “race young” as I never did any competitive sports in high school or college. Even if you don’t race, it is nice to be able to have some extra speed or strength for those tough conditions like high winds while road cycling or uphill skiing in deep powder.

  1. “Much of what science ‘knows’ about the indicators of aging probably doesn’t apply to you. You are much less likely than your ‘normal’ neighbor to contract the lifestyle diseases of aging. You aren’t normal – and that’s good. You are continuing the active and vigorous life however ancestors. You’re an athlete.” p. 21
  2. Training volume and intensity are both important, but intensity is the most relevant factor in maintaining a decent VO2max for older athletes. p. 35. Ned Overland, in this book, says “I’ve learned that by reducing volume, I’m more rested for high-intensity sessions, and by being rested, I can push myself harder during the intervals.” p. 114
  3. “So far, about all science knows about exercise and aging is that there seems to be an inverse relationship between older people’s volume of exercise and the risk of premature death, regardless of the cause. In other words, the more you exercise the less likely you are to die early.” p. 43 “most people ‘rust out’ due to inactivity, rather than ‘wear out’ from being overly active.” p. 45
  4. “The older athlete, therefore, needs more protein to ensure that there is enough to help with the rebuilding that takes place during sleep.” p. 221. He says that protein is required after any strength workout or session that stresses your muscles “such as aerobic-capacity or lactate-threshold intervals, you eat some protein within 30 minutes…” He goes on to suggest that older athletes need 40 grams after such a workout, instead of the typical 20 to 25 grams of protein that is recommended for younger athletes. p. 222
  5. I have read in many other publications and online that the best way to burn fat is to workout at a moderate intensity, and not go “all out,” working out at or near your lactate threshold. But that has always seemed illogical to me, consequently, nearly every workout I do as at a high intensity. Joel confirms my theory and he says that very low heart rate training to burn fat is a myth that just doesn’t go away. “Low-intensity, fast-paced exercise does not burn more calories or more fat than does high-intensity, fast-paced exercise.”
  6. He recommends year round resistance and core strength training (i.e. weight lifting). Once or twice a week is usually adequate, once you establish a base. p.  122–124 & 170-173. Strength training is also widely known to prevent or delay osteoporosis. Because of the compression of joints and spinal disks, by the age of 80, most “normal, non-athletic” people lose two inches in height. p. 19
  7. He also mentions that if a “senior” athlete is injured or takes time away from regular training and losses his or her fitness level, it takes much longer to “get back” to where you were. Younger athletes, on the other hand, can take time off and more quickly rebound without the same quantity of days and weeks of training.



4 Responses to “Fast After Fifty — 7 Points I Learned from this New Book”

  1. James Thurber 20 December 2015 at 9:26 pm Permalink

    Now nearly 64 I’ve learned that nutrition is a KEY element to surviving (and ultimately enjoying) strenuous exercise events. As I’ve aged I’ve also noted a tendency to “sugar crash” and bonk quite easily. The solution? Avoiding items that are heavy in glucose / sugar and using my favorite: peanut butter pretzels and / or a combination of peanuts and raisins – a near perfect combination of protein, carbs and fats.

    I’ve also learned everyone is different. Some of my fellow riders need to power up prior to a ride with lots of sugars / carbs. That now longer works for me – a mellow / light / protein rich breakfast will last me four or five hours.

    Beer used to work as an enjoyable way to rehydrate during a ride. After 60 it now works in reverse! A beer is fine after a ride but if taken during a ride I end up quickly exhausted. Go figure, I can’t.

    The bottom line? Learn how your own body works and treat it accordingly.

  2. Rando Richard 20 December 2015 at 10:29 pm Permalink

    Thanks for your comments James. There is a whole chapter on nutrition, but nothing “stood out” to me as new, so I didn’t bring up any of those points here. I will say though that according to another book (Faster, Better, Stronger) by Eric Heiden, he said that most European sport professional trainers and medical pros emphasize nutrition a whole lot more than American’s do.

  3. Mitch Goldflies 21 December 2015 at 7:11 am Permalink

    Already read the book. Always choose intensity over volume. Recovery is key. Need more time to recover from intensity as we age. I am 66. I also work full time >60hours per week. My training scheduled is modified based on recovery from work and training. My coach is always reminding me that there are no gains from workouts without recovery. Eat more protein before and during long rides to avoid post-ride carb feast. Nut bars work for me.

  4. Bryce 30 December 2015 at 2:21 pm Permalink

    I have always liked Joe Friel’s insights into training and getting better with age. Thanks for the synopsis. I myself not being over 50 have trended my workouts towards intensity and away from high volume over the past couple of years. Results say that it was a good move too. Time has also been saved, and I have lost weight as well. Go figure.

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