Still Go Hard (Just Not Every Day)

For some reason we seem to think athleticism must stop at forty. The reason being back in the 1950s and ‘60s the medical profession was telling us that after age forty you shouldn’t exercise anymore. They said it was too much strain on the heart. So basically saying there was no point and would cause more damage then good!

The most important thing to realize is that you may feel young still, but your body isn’t. You may wake up stiff sometimes and often have to hobble around the room for a minute until things start to loosen up. And while you can still go hard, you can’t go hard every day like you used to. In a given week, the best approach is to have two hard workouts with the remainder being far more moderate, as your body can’t withstand so many hard sessions. In other words, you don’t recover like you used to.

Rebalancing the Body

After every hard session, regardless of age, the body needs to rebalance itself. It does this through two primary mechanisms – food and sleep. Training for most people generally falls either early in the day before work or later after work. In both cases it is important to get a decent meal in post training. It won’t kill you if you don’t do it, but by the end of the week the benefits from quickly refuelling your body can be felt. Ideally try to get a meal in within thirty minutes if you can. Don’t be scared of carbohydrates either as they will need replenishing after you’ve used them up during training.

As you get older one of two things happens. Either you realize you can’t get away with poor choices anymore and that a fast-food meal makes you feel horrible for days. Or, you realize having a six-pack isn’t as important to you as having a glass of wine with dinner each night and enjoying some of the less health conscious and tastier options out there. Neither is right or wrong and only you can decide which is the right path for you. But if you want to keep pushing hard past forty, then you’re going to need to make good food choices more often than not.

Time, Food, and Sleep Management

Food is like the petrol our body needs to keep running. The better the quality of fuel we put in, the faster and longer we can work the engine. But sleep is like preventative maintenance. Forgoing sleep to watch TV or stay out late will halt your progress faster than anything else I can think of. One of the problems that often by this stage of our lives we have serious jobs that may require working outside normal hours, or kids which sometimes get in the way of the sleeping and recovery process!!

Most people’s time management skills are awful. They waste time on unimportant things, watch too much TV, and don’t prioritize looking after themselves by getting to bed early. While life is never perfect and there will be situations (particularly for those with kids) that require changing your schedule on the fly, getting people used to your routine is essential. Ideally all electrical gadgets should be switched off an hour before bedtime to allow your body to switch off properly.
That may make me seem like an old man, but if you want to have enough energy to train well the next day, then you must get enough sleep. For me, I find that 6-8 hours of consistent sleep is critical if I plan to have the energy not just to train well, but also to have a clear head for the work that comes after it.

Balancing the Training

After food and sleep comes balancing the hard work in your training versus the easy work. When l say easy basically this means active recovery. ln relation to the hard sessions you’ll see why they’re called easy.

For example

Hard Session – 60 mins running intervals Race Pace for 1 mile then average pace for 1 mile

Easy Session – 60 mins running at a comfortable pace at base level pace

The Take-Away

There’s no reason to stop working hard as you get older, you just need to be smart about it. You need to be diligent with your food and sleep in order to recover properly between sessions. And don’t try to train hard each day, but follow hard days with easy ones to allow your body to recover while still gaining fitness and strength. Being fit at forty is possible you just have to train smarter not harder!

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