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Maintaining fitness in middle age.

kirkymtbkirkymtb Posts: 31
I don't know at what age middle age started but all my old MTB mates are either not riding or doing gentle leisure rides up the canal bank. I have no intention of giving in. I'm now at an age you'd associate with Heinz beans!
Since I now ride alone I think I need some sort of strategy to prevent my fitness becoming my longest downhill.
Using Strava since last October has been a big help. Every time you ride you are in a virtual race at various points and you can look at your performance afterwards. I've even targeted King of the Mountains titles on some segments and hold 2 crowns!
Another great motivator is to set goals at the beginning of the year. I set 4 targets, one of which, a technical section to be ridden without a foot down, I have achieved so far. Another is a fast lap of a local red graded circuit which I intend to ride in under 11 minutes. I did 11.16 last try and have a strategy to beat that.
I'm also finding blogging about my MTB struggles to be helpful. I do better rides which have more purpose because some random individuals who I'll never meet are going to read about it afterwards. Here's my account of my best ride of the year so far.
https://mountainbiker.home.blog/2019/03 ... st-second/
My MTB blog...https://wordpress.com/view/mountainbiker.home.blog
Boardman FS Pro 2016. Whyte PRST 4 2004, Whyte JW 4 2004 :D

Posts

  • keef66keef66 Posts: 13,123
    My motivation for staying fit is to live long enough to get all my pension money back.
  • I ride alone nearly all the time. I suspect that I'm several years older than OP. I do it because I want to do it, and I enjoy doing it. I don't need artificial targets to get me out, but I do use them - some Strava challenges are useful - but more as a record of progress than of any sort of racing achievement.

    At the end if the day it is all in the mind. If you prefer canal rides to the pub, shopping with the missus or playing with grandkids then that's fine. It's all about priorities. I did 70 miles/6,000' through Yorks Dales yesterday. On my own. And I enjoyed it.

    Ride in a manner that suits you. If your mates want to do other things don't get get wound up about it.
  • keef66keef66 Posts: 13,123
    I ride alone nearly all the time. I suspect that I'm several years older than OP. I do it because I want to do it, and I enjoy doing it. I don't need artificial targets to get me out, but I do use them - some Strava challenges are useful - but more as a record of progress than of any sort of racing achievement.

    At the end if the day it is all in the mind. If you prefer canal rides to the pub, shopping with the missus or playing with grandkids then that's fine. It's all about priorities. I did 70 miles/6,000' through Yorks Dales yesterday. On my own. And I enjoyed it.

    Ride in a manner that suits you. If your mates want to do other things don't get get wound up about it.

    Me too, on all counts. Apart from the 70 miles in the Dales, of which I'm extremely jealous because that's where I grew up / first started cycling, and now I'm stuck in East Anglia :(
  • Just to rub salt in the wound there was hardly any traffic. I went from Ribblehead to the outskirts of Sedbergh - all through Dentdale - and didn't see a single car!!! In a few weeks when the grockles hatch that will be chocker with people carriers.

    Glad I went when I did.
  • keef66keef66 Posts: 13,123
    Sounds idyllic!
  • billycoolbillycool Posts: 833
    I depends a little how you define `fitness`.

    If you ride regularly, you will maintain a base level of fitness. Theortetically that can decline with age and you have to work that bit harder. How you achieve that can be done differently.

    I can do 10 miles on my MTB local to me, which is very hilly, climb 1000ft and (according to HRM and Strava) burn the same calories as a roadie mate doing double the distance on (flatter) roads. His cadence much the same and HRM a steady 120 or similar. I'm 46 and like you, trying to keep ahead of the curve. I was chasing a KOM that I lost to a (younger) mate last week and thrashed it up this hill and my HR hit 175 - pretty much maxed out for me. I got my crown back but thought I might have a coronary.

    Fitness can be long term endurance or shorter term sprinting and how quickly you recover. Recovery rate is a good barometer of fitness rather than max heart rate.

    I also like Strava for helping motivate me, although I do still appreciate the scenery, company and time out and about.

    I also play competitive hockey and I'm still fitter than some half my age. I don't think I'm super fit - they are just super lazy.
    I'm a sprinter by design but do enjoy the odd 50km charity MTB ride but usually stick to local 10-15m loops.

    If your friends are happy doing what they are doing, that's great. I'm with you - get out and do stuff. I think that what you are doing is spot on - you don't have to thrash around all the time - mix it up.

    I'm dreading the day I finally realise I can't do what I want to do - but now e-bikes are the norm, I've got options!

    If you haven't got one - I do find HRM's helpful. Not essential but with Strava it tells me what sort of effort zone I'm in and it acts as a sort of training partner.

    Keep up the good work.
    "Ride, crash, replace"
  • steve_sordysteve_sordy Posts: 2,259
    It sounds like you have nothing to worry about. You still have the motivation and I don't believe that you need Strava to monitor you. You don't say how old you are, but I believe "old" is a state of mind. As long as you are getting out there on your mtb on a frequent basis, you will stay fit and stay "young" In heart, soul, and mind. BUT......

    What you will eventually come up against is your body starting to wear out. What wears out and when will depend upon your genes, but also what you got up to when you were younger. I got to 63 before I noticed wear and tear for the first time. It was my knees and it was osteo-arthritis (wear and tear); all that cross country running and wind-surfing are what did for me. I tried everything I could think of and also in various combinations to stave off the evil day when riding my mtb became impractical. Bike setup, physio, supplements, pain killers, appliances, ...... I ended up using all of them together! :shock:

    Eventually, at 67 and at the back end of last year I couldn't ride my mtb for more than 10 miles and that was with several days rest in between! I gave up, sold both my bikes and bought an emtb in Jan'19. Now I'm almost back to "normal" and slowly spreading my wings again. OK, I'm not pressing quite so hard with my legs anymore (the cause of the knee pain), but I'm riding for more than twice as long and more than twice as far. And I can do it all again tomorrow! :D

    The thing to remember is that dodgy knees won't kill you, but lack of exercise will! Keep moving, whatever it takes! :lol:
  • billycoolbillycool Posts: 833
    Steve - I'm assuming that he is close to 57, so 10 less than you and 10 more than me. :D
    "Ride, crash, replace"
  • kirkymtbkirkymtb Posts: 31
    BillyCool wrote:
    Steve - I'm assuming that he is close to 57, so 10 less than you and 10 more than me. :D
    Doh! My code has been cracked :D
    My MTB blog...https://wordpress.com/view/mountainbiker.home.blog
    Boardman FS Pro 2016. Whyte PRST 4 2004, Whyte JW 4 2004 :D
  • steve_sordysteve_sordy Posts: 2,259
    KirkyMTB wrote:
    BillyCool wrote:
    Steve - I'm assuming that he is close to 57, so 10 less than you and 10 more than me. :D
    Doh! My code has been cracked :D

    I didn't even ride my first mtb until I was 57! :lol:
  • crakercraker Posts: 2,060
    At 48 I find myself getting into Ultra trail running. Watching YouTube vids of events like the Dragon's Back ultra it's fascinating how competitive older people are, they're up there competing for podium places in their 60s.

    I imagine most of those older runners placing were elite runners back in the day (I have no ambition to compete at that level over 200 miles / 5 days) but older folk have endurance and race craft where the youngsters charge around and get tired.

    It's all about setting goals IMO, get your bucket list out and choose an event that you've fancied doing for ages, sign up. Train. Hurt.
  • tonysjtonysj Posts: 361
    I agree with the comments.
    I started cycling at the age of 52 (56 now ) having only riden bikes when I was young. I'm not sure what it is but I'm more pushy with myself now than ever before when I was younger. It could be that I realise I can only go on for -- years before I will be unable to do the things I do know.
    Me and a few retired mates have come up with a different way of pushing ourselves we have a monthly ride out that's called the BLT ride. Bucket List Tour where one of the guys suggests a ride,hill or route he would like to do as he's never done it before and then we plan the date/ride and complete it. It's a good motivator and keeps you training/riding in preparation for the BLT.
    The next planned BLT is up Wynatts Pass in Derbyshire, I'm fortunate to live in the Peaks, I've already done in earlier this year but the other 3 guys haven't so I'm the lead/adviser and plan the route with a few cafe stops.
    My personal BLT list is well underway having completed, Hardknott Pass/Wrynose Pass, did the Ey up Yorkshire sportive last October but got plenty of other rides/hills I need to complete before I'm too old.
    What really does cheese me off is I'm decent on a bike for my age and always wonder what I would have been like if I had started cycling 20-30 years ago...
    Just get out and enjoy it and when you don't enjoy it anymore it's time to hang up the cycling shoes.
    T
  • BillyCool, you're right about maximum heart rate. I can exceed what should be my max for quite long periods ( not really advised I know ) but my recovery rate is awful. The latter suggests I'm pretty unfit. The funny thing about maximum heart rate is we never used to monitor it years ago. So many of us went flat out for as long and as often as possible. Now we're told training in the so-called red zone can damage the heart. I don't know what humans used to do when predators were trying to eat them, I certainly don't think they'd have been stressing about the exertion. Maybe a good job they didn't have FitBits back then.

    I know Andrew Marr thinks he induced his stroke by going at it too hard on a rowing machine. I personally think the pain of gruelling exercise would force you to stop long before you could harm yourself. At least for the vast majority of us. And if I'm wrong I'll probably die doing what I enjoy.
  • billycoolbillycool Posts: 833
    BillyCool, you're right about maximum heart rate. I can exceed what should be my max for quite long periods ( not really advised I know ) but my recovery rate is awful. The latter suggests I'm pretty unfit. The funny thing about maximum heart rate is we never used to monitor it years ago. So many of us went flat out for as long and as often as possible. Now we're told training in the so-called red zone can damage the heart. I don't know what humans used to do when predators were trying to eat them, I certainly don't think they'd have been stressing about the exertion. Maybe a good job they didn't have FitBits back then.

    I know Andrew Marr thinks he induced his stroke by going at it too hard on a rowing machine. I personally think the pain of gruelling exercise would force you to stop long before you could harm yourself. At least for the vast majority of us. And if I'm wrong I'll probably die doing what I enjoy.

    You're right- the whole heart rate thing is only a `guide` and certainly not the same for everyone.

    One of my regular ride buddies is tachycardic. His resting HR is around 80bpm. He rides 2 or 3 times a week and is above average fitness for 42. When we climb (race) up a hill, I'll get to low 170's (may max) and he'll be in the 190's. It doesn't mean he is unfit, that's just how he's made and it's his `normal`. His recovery rate is pretty good and therefore a better measure of overall fitness.

    I never monitor my HR zones, I'm not into it that much. I just like to feel I've had a good workout and I don't need technology to tell me that.

    My partner is also tachycardic, but has an underlying arrhythmia - so she's more diagnosed SVT borderline ARVC. Her resting heartrate is also high and subject to the odd 200+bpm atrial fibrillation. Not nice and quite scary. She is now on beta blockers and annual reviews and we've not had an episode for over 6 months.

    Theoretically - anyone with a higher than average heart rate *could* have an underlying undiagnosed condition (lets not panic anyone). A lot of the time it can be genetic/hereditary, or just what it is and plenty of people just live with it.

    With regard to Andrew Marr - like you say, his heart attack/stroke was triggered by over exertion when rowing. He'd been working hard for 12 months, probably out of shape and had 2 minor strokes prior to that without realising. In an attempt to get fit he followed some poor advice about short/sharp `strenuous` exercise, overdid it and tore his carotid artery. Very lucky that he's still here. Since he unknowingly had already had issues, the rowing machine finished him off. It's also why a lot of people in the USA have heart attacks shovelling snow.

    I totally agree that I'd rather go out doing something I enjoy, rather than wrapping myself in cotton wool....
    "Ride, crash, replace"
  • keef66keef66 Posts: 13,123
    BillyCool, you're right about maximum heart rate. I can exceed what should be my max for quite long periods ( not really advised I know )

    Your maximum heart rate is just that. You can't exceed it, you just set a new maximum.

    Unless you are referring to the old 220 minus your age generalisation. Which for me seems to be about right as far as cycling is concerned, but for many it's a long way out.
  • billycoolbillycool Posts: 833
    keef66 wrote:
    BillyCool, you're right about maximum heart rate. I can exceed what should be my max for quite long periods ( not really advised I know )

    Your maximum heart rate is just that. You can't exceed it, you just set a new maximum.

    Unless you are referring to the old 220 minus your age generalisation. Which for me seems to be about right as far as cycling is concerned, but for many it's a long way out.

    I am referring to 220-age as a rough guide to max HRM. As you say, it's not perfect but gives you an idea. There are plenty of articles on-line disputing how you `calculate` it. I'm quite happy with my max being c.175 as I'm not sure I can get it any higher!

    My resting heart rate is 50-55 bpm and when I'm fully asleep it drops as low as 43. Again, hardly a medical diagnosis but hopefully a positive. Blood pressure is about right as well.

    I do like to push myself but I know that I don't have to max out my HR to be `fit`.
    "Ride, crash, replace"
  • robertpbrobertpb Posts: 1,866
    The 220 is realy a long way out for me at 68 it would give me a max 152 mine is 186 with a resting of 51.

    Fitness is something I've always had, at 20 I weighed 61kg today I'm the same weight, that's what you get when you work 7 days a week in farming.

    People forget that the body works best when it's fed well and given plenty of exercise.

    18 months ago my son and his wife bought me a Garmin watch so I now had more info on my HR and fitness besides just riding with my Polar HRM, what I found out was the 150 minutes per week of exercise that a doctor would ask about, I was exceeding that on a daily basis, last week was 210 minutes a day average.

    When I started mountain biking 34 years ago there wasn't the problem on such a scale now as we have with the plus size people, the lack of physical work seems to be the problem, so we need more people of my age out there showing that there is life in the old dog yet.
    Now where's that "Get Out of Crash Free Card"
  • kirkymtbkirkymtb Posts: 31
    craker wrote:
    At 48 I find myself getting into Ultra trail running. Watching YouTube vids of events like the Dragon's Back ultra it's fascinating how competitive older people are, they're up there competing for podium places in their 60s.

    I imagine most of those older runners placing were elite runners back in the day (I have no ambition to compete at that level over 200 miles / 5 days) but older folk have endurance and race craft where the youngsters charge around and get tired.

    It's all about setting goals IMO, get your bucket list out and choose an event that you've fancied doing for ages, sign up. Train. Hurt.
    Interesting. Maybe I should set myself the goal of doing the Mary Towneley Loop on the bike. 47 miles and 6,400 feet of ascent, which is apparently what kills you! There's an organised ride which I think is in September, or I could do it any time as it's only 20 miles away from home. Tempting.
    My MTB blog...https://wordpress.com/view/mountainbiker.home.blog
    Boardman FS Pro 2016. Whyte PRST 4 2004, Whyte JW 4 2004 :D
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