Just as pushing your bow across the line for the first time in the 50+ age category signifies entering a mature phase of your rowing career it may also mark new adventures in maintaining equilibrium in your training schedule. Masters athletes need to include the same intensities of work in their race preparation as their younger counterparts. However, the difference for masters is how and when workouts are planned in the weekly schedule to adjust for potentially longer recovery periods as the body requires more time.
How to improve as you age
Improving your performance as you age is linked to maintaining a relatively high VO2 max. This means that high intensity intervals at race pace need to be key elements of any master’s program in combination with the substantial endurance work that rowing demands. Such intervals also place a lot of stress on your physiological systems so the volume and frequency needs to be approached carefully to optimize the benefits. Recovery periods are when your body makes the positive adaptation to the work you just did, without a good recovery period, you risk physical break-down and injuries can occur more easily.
Only you can gauge how much recovery you need between the intense sessions of the week. Monitor your morning resting heart rate the day after, if it is elevated above your norm, include low intensity sessions until it returns to normal rest rate. If this typically takes two days you can schedule a total rest day, easy distance work, or low intensity cross training. Using an app to track your heart rate variability gives an even more accurate measure your state of recovery. I use the HRV4Training app.
Weekly training patterns can vary, be creative so you don’t get bored. You may find you feel more energized taking a total rest day after three training days. If a traditional weekly pattern is better for your schedule, resting Monday and Friday might give you the edge you need to maintain quality workouts during the in-between days.
Ways to recover from training
The best form of recovery as you age is sleep. Getting 40 winks, taking cat naps, or simply lying down restores your energy the fastest especially when backed up by healthy eating. Look over your weekly cycle and build your recovery days around your priority sessions of the week and follow it up with a good dose of rest.