The PowerUp Tri Podcast is hosted by former pro triathletes Matt Lieto and Jordan Rapp, who lend their in-depth knowledge of the multisport to the Zwift Tri audience.
One of the great things about long-distance triathlon is its appeal to participants of all ages. A topic of frequent debate, however, is what effect age has on performance. What is the ideal age for professional Ironman athletes? One athlete who seems to be breaking down the belief that older (30-40) is better for Ironman professionals is Lucy Charles-Barclay. She is just 25 years old and has already garnered many Ironman wins as well as 3 World Championship podiums.
Lucy does a good job explaining that age is just a number when it comes to experience and knowledge. She feels that young athletes can often approach races in just as informed a manner as veterans of the sport. “ I don't feel young in sport, because I've done sports my whole life since I was about 8 years old. So, I feel like quite an experienced athlete, in general.”
I tend to agree. A term often thrown around is “old man strength.” To me, “old man strength” is mostly just a mindset, being able to push through pain. We often think “oldness” somehow makes us stronger, but I think it’s more about mental fortitude. It’s certainly possible for a younger athlete to have the same mental strength.
Obviously it is necessary to do the required work to build up the mileage to handle an Ironman physically. If you are young without much training history, long-distance triathlon may need to wait. It’s impossible to have success at the top level of the sport without a lot of volume, and it’s important to build that volume up in the correct manner.
Lucy explains that she too had struggles with this. “I had to learn the hard way pretty quickly. In 2016 when I decided to jump into the pro ranks, I actually had a stress fracture in my leg, which I would say was mainly down to the fact that my body was not used to impact.” She adjusted her approach to longer training, showed patience and learned from her mistakes. Knowledge beyond her years, I’d say.
Besides a delightful conversation with Lucy about the above, there were lots of good things happening in the endurance world that we chat about in this episode. Allistair Brownlee announced he will be doing his first Ironman in Ireland this month. Mirinda Carfrae proved Lucy’s point of view that age is just a number as she continues to crush the 70.3 field this week in Victoria. And in the tech corner, we talk about Allied’s very successful launch of a new gravel bike at Dirty Kanza with both female and male wins. All this and more on this week’s pod!
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