The relationship between sports performance and aging

Presentation by Kathy Zawadzki, coach specializing in masters cyclists, on the relationship between aging and sports performance.

Part of Coach Kathy Zawadzki's presentation focuses on our traditional ideas about aging. Like the chart below, we usually think that we will get fitter until a certain point, but in our 30s and 40s, we start to slow down and there's nothing we can do about it.

However, in reality, it is not our performance, but our POTENTIAL performance that is decreasing. Let's say that we train at the level of an Olympic competitor from the age of 15, then yes, around the age of 40 our performance decreases slightly (see green line), and if we do not train at all, the red line represents us in the graph below.

So, if you haven't trained as an Olympic-level athlete since you were 15, it means that at any time, at any age, you can achieve performance gains for five, ten, or even fifteen years if you train hard and with purpose (purple line).

Coach Zawadzki quoted an athlete he started working with at age 55 who didn't reach his VO2 peak, lactate threshold, and functional strength threshold until he was 70. One of the most extreme cases involved an athlete who trained hard between the ages of 101 and 103 (!!!) (and is still cycling at 105), and his VO2max, peak power and performance increased over those two years. He became faster than a 101-year-old!

So what does this have to do with you? This means that 99% of us can get fitter, faster and increase capacity at almost any age. Want to go on more adventures and win races, but thought it was too late? Get moving and start working!

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published