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How Older Adults Can Prepare for Their First Triathlon

You might think that your age is hindering you from trying out new things, including participating in a triathlon. But according to Caryn Maconi, the spokesperson for USA Triathlon, over 50,000 people in the US over the age of 50 are actively participating in triathlons. Just last August, more than 6,000 athletes converged in Milwaukee for the USA Triathlon nationals age group races. Older adults vouched that they felt a great sense of accomplishment, “It makes you feel younger than you are,” said Russ Miller. If you’re an older adult looking to join your first triathlon, here are some things to keep in mind.

Benefits of triathlons

Preparing for and participating in triathlon events will allow you to get regular exercise and can affect your overall well-being. A study involving a group of seniors preparing for their first triathlon was published in Taylor and Francis Online. Results showed that older adults boasted general improvement in motivation, progress, and coping, as well as breaking barriers. The participants have also gotten better fitness levels in all three field-based activities. Moreover, regular exercise can improve cardiovascular function and reduce your risk of heart disease.

Assessing your skills

A triathlon has three components, and if you’re new to either swimming, biking, or running, choose one aspect to work on at a time. Slow and steady preparation is necessary because you wouldn’t want to rush into such a taxing activity. Older adults can improve their body condition through cross-training, which Michigan State University explains as the practice of switching between different exercises. This keeps exercise from being tedious and repetitive, and also allows you to slowly build up your skills in all three triathlon components. It also decreases the possibility of injury caused by repeated exercise over time.

Training in your 50s and beyond

As we age, joints begin to stiffen, cartilage thins, and muscle mass decreases as well. But this only makes strength training more critical and necessary. To navigate training as an older adult, some people rely on coaching services like ours here at TCMTriSquad. Coaches can provide individualized training that is well-suited to your age, background, and racing goals. You should also choose to run on alternate days in order to let your joints recover from the high impact. You can also employ the 2:1 training method, which entails working for two weeks and resting for one week.

Consulting your doctor

As with all matters concerning your health, make sure you consult with your physician before making any major lifestyle decisions. Your doctor may advise you on specific limitations and medications you should be aware of to keep your body healthy. Older adults can lean into their Medicare Plan to cover most, if not all, the costs for these visits and medication. In particular, KelseyCare details that Medicare Advantage plans provided by private companies contain Part B, which covers most lifestyle management, therapy sessions, and dietitian fees as long as your doctor deems it medically necessary. You even get free check-ups to ensure that your body is always cleared for a triathlon.

Planning your first race

For those who have completed a few marathons or are highly active, the first race might be easier. But to be safe, we at TriCoachMartin recommend that you choose a date that’s far enough to give you time to train and prepare (ideally three to six months), depending on your fitness level. You should also select an event that’s beginner-friendly, and you should be sure that the distance covered is something that you can handle. You could also find yourself a triathlon buddy or a triathlon group that is in the same age range as you for support and practice sessions.

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