Age related decline

General discussion on Training. How to get better on your erg, how to use your erg to get better at another sport, or anything else about improving your abilities.
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Mark E
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Re: Age related decline

Post by Mark E » December 2nd, 2019, 6:11 pm

The degree of acceptable or "normal" degree of age-related decline has been a tricky one for me to figure out. Decades ago I rowed four years in college with a nationally competitive program, then rowed a few more years in my early 20s with a very good club program. I was in a lightweight 4 that saw every rower in the boat (other than me) eventually earn a national team seat. I wasn't as strong as the top guys on the erg but as a lightweight I pulled in the high 6:20s to very low 6:30s every time we tested 2K.

By age 25 I decided that I was done -- I couldn't really fathom why the "old guys" in their 30s, 40s and later in life would keep rowing when they were obviously just slowing down.

Ran a lot in my 30s, raced bikes on- and off-road, did many triathlons. I wasn't great but I could usually run a road 10K in the 38-39 minute range even without a taper. By my mid- to late 40s a 40-minute 10K was out of range ... plus my left hip kept getting inflamed. Diagnosis was arthritis and a hip replacement was recommended. My last marathon at age 49 was painful and pretty slow (3:35).

At 50 I decided to give rowing another shot. No impact seemed like a good fit for my hip issue. Since returning to the sport I have loved being out on the water and feel very lucky to be rowing with a solid club program alongside other competitive-minded masters rowers that know what they're doing on the water.

I like off-water training, including erging, but I'm shocked at how hard it is to get anywhere near the erg times that used to seem routine. I don't expect to hit 6:30 again, but even a 7:00 2K looks dauntingly fast. One of the obstacles is that I'm now living at altitude in Colorado, so power is a bit reduced (a few seconds slower per 500 meters than at sea level) but I think the age-related decline is a far bigger challenge to overcome.

So what's an acceptable amount of decline? A 6:30 2K requires a 500 meter split of 1:37.5, which equates to 377.6 watts. A 10-percent reduction in watts would yield about 340 watts or a 1:41 split. Still way too fast for me! Maybe factor in another 10 percent reduction for a bit more aging, and the altitude? Call it 300 watts, which gives a 1:45 split. That would get me to the 7:00 time goal. Seems much more doable, but still a mighty challenging goal.

Nobody in my program wants to row lightweight, so I've given up on maintaining that and have now plumped up to 175-180 (at 6 feet I was always on the big side for LWT). So I've got that going for me now.

This is all very longwinded, I realize, but I find it quite informative to pick up on other poster's experiences on this forum. I'd love to hear from anyone else that has taken a long break from rowing and can make comparisons to his/her younger self. I appreciate the comments that have already been shared on this thread.
6 feet, 178 lbs. 52 years old, 2K PR 6:27 (forever ago) 7:25 (modern day)

Cyclingman1
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Re: Age related decline

Post by Cyclingman1 » December 3rd, 2019, 2:04 pm

In the first place, while age 52 may seem like you are in decline, it really is fairly minimal. Drop off in performance before 50 is mostly due lack of intense training, or no training at all. Although, I acknowledge some decline starting around 40. Keep in mind the Olympic marathon has been won by a 38 yr old against the best in the world. Starting again rowing at 50, and having done 6:27, 7:00 is most definitely in play. It really just comes down to the right kind of training. I just had a yr long break from erging at all after several serious medical issues and have managed to get back to 7:13. Also, shooting for 7:00. A lot tougher at age 73 than at age 52. Stay positive. JimG
JimG, Gainesville, Ga, 73.

adccl8z
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Re: Age related decline

Post by adccl8z » December 3rd, 2019, 2:37 pm

Cyclingman1 wrote:
December 3rd, 2019, 2:04 pm
In the first place, while age 52 may seem like you are in decline, it really is fairly minimal.
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Stay positive. JimG
Thanks Jim!

Interestingly, I finally broke through 3400 again earlier this week, simply by going very slightly easier (about + 2secs split) for the first couple of intervals.
Pacing is everything :)
52 in Jan '20. LWT. Best 2k 6:58 (2003) Best 5k 18:39 (2003). Last regatta: 2004. Surrey, UK

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Eric308
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Re: Age related decline

Post by Eric308 » December 3rd, 2019, 5:23 pm

Let it be known that JimG aka Cyclingman1 has the fastest time 2k heavyweight time of anybody on the board in his age group...that's worldwide, at 7:13 something. Amazing to say the least. :o

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hjs
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Re: Age related decline

Post by hjs » December 4th, 2019, 5:11 am

Cyclingman1 wrote:
December 3rd, 2019, 2:04 pm
In the first place, while age 52 may seem like you are in decline, it really is fairly minimal. Drop off in performance before 50 is mostly due lack of intense training, or no training at all. Although, I acknowledge some decline starting around 40. Keep in mind the Olympic marathon has been won by a 38 yr old against the best in the world. Starting again rowing at 50, and having done 6:27, 7:00 is most definitely in play. It really just comes down to the right kind of training. I just had a yr long break from erging at all after several serious medical issues and have managed to get back to 7:13. Also, shooting for 7:00. A lot tougher at age 73 than at age 52. Stay positive. JimG
Although l tend to agree, decline is not the same for everyone. In general most 50 years old have lost lots, but that for the biggest part due to inactivity.

For myself, being also 52, the biggest factor is injurees, combined with slower recovery. That said, half a minute decline sounds like a lot. But again, depending on lots, how close your pb was to your absolute limit matters a lot. For most, we don,t know how fast we could have been, so how much we really slowed down is simply unknown.
For my training see twitter @Hjsrowing

Cyclingman1
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Re: Age related decline

Post by Cyclingman1 » December 4th, 2019, 7:08 am

Henry, recovering from injuries and illness are the big unknowns. Sometimes they linger forever. Also, I like the true PB argument. If one is partially trained in their 40s, then a new PB can be established later - maybe even in 60s - with dedicated training. I do contend that true PBs in each subsequent decade will definitely be less and less. The WR tables show that conclusively. It's nice to think that one can escape the ravages of time, but it will never happen.

Focusing on what was, is probably a losing a proposition. A lot of us seem to be unable to give up on numbers as they fade away, like 6:58. Maybe 7:13 is the new me. :) BTW, a new man is on top 2K, +70 HWt standings as of 12/3: 7:10.
JimG, Gainesville, Ga, 73.

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