Masters athletes, typically defined as racers over 40 years of age, often have bigger challenges than the younger athletes when finding consistent training and adequate recovery time. Work, family, increased recovery needs and a general lack of available time can all impede progress towards race success.

That doesn’t mean that older athletes don’t have goals. Perhaps your just wanting improve your fitness, lose some weight and keep it off or maybe taking on a new race distance. Whatever your motivation, being prepared is key. No one wants to show up on the starting line lamenting missed workouts and a lack of preparation. Some simple steps and planning can help every busy masters athlete reach their goals. Here are a few ways you can make it happen.

1. Make a Plan
It’s crucial to start with a realistic understanding of what you can and cannot do with your time. Begin by estimating the amount of the time you have available each day of the week. This needs to be a very accurate and real assessment. Pretending you’ll get up every day at 3AM before work to hit the road and then do a second workout at 9PM after the kids are asleep is just not realistic. Sleep deprivation will mean inadequate recovery, general malaise, and probably make you a rather unpleasant person to deal with.

Now that you’ve figured out how much time you have available, create your long term plan. Get out the monthly calendar and set a goal date or a race date that you want to achieve this goal by. Next, note the days you need to have off due to work travel, vacations, etc. Then plan your important training sessions,( Interval training sessions) staying within your daily estimated time. Last, you can schedule the extra sessions that you want to get in, but are not critical workouts. This way, your critical workouts are scheduled with priority, giving you a much greater chance of executing these important workouts.

As an overall guide, you should start with general fitness and build into a specific preparation period that allows you to practice or rehearse race day. Remember, you are building muscular strength, aerobic endurance, speed, and improving your efficiency and technique. master’s swim class are very popular and have great success rates for swimmers so if you can find or form a paddling group it will be of tremendous help to speeding time up in achieving your goal.

You may feel you need guidance creating your plan there are plenty of options. Just Paddling has easy to follow monthly plans or you can hire a coach or get my online personal training program.

2. Quality before quantity
When looking over your plan, you may be worried by a lack of volume. However, evidence suggests higher intensity work and less volume is as beneficial as long hours for the masters athlete. This means performing workouts that go above zone 2 and 3 and interval training sessions that combined using as many of the 5 training zones each week. If you train slower, you are likely to lose performance at a greater rate per decade than if you train fast. For the time deprived finding this “less is more” balance of hard work and recovery is key.

Shorter but more intense workouts also allow you find a better balance with all that may be going on in your life. Not only do they take up less time during each day, but it is easier to feel the different intensities in the 5 training zones. A big problem with master athletes training at one steady intensity is they never gain improved anaerobic conditioning or maintain any strength or power. For example, swapping a 60 minute distance training with a 30 minute interval session is a much better option then not doing anything at all and losing your training consistency.

Remember train smart on and off the water and enjoy the challenge because if it’s not challenging you will lose interest and consistency and slow down your progression.