The Psychology of Training After 45

Dan & Ron – a couple of my favorite veteran athletes

I’m more than halfway along my journey from 45 to 60.

The biggest change is the reduction in my total pool of energy.

To cope, I’ve been open to changing my approach:

  • Adding: mobility work, heart rate variability metrics, additional easy days
  • Removing: alcohol, caffeine, travel, driving

Have the changes worked?

Honestly, tough to say!

It’s a paradox… less overall energy provides motivation to make changes in the hope of getting some energy back!

The other big motivator is fear.

Fear of:

  • Decline in sexual function
  • Decline in muscle mass
  • Increase in body fat
  • Getting “slow”

Let’s dig in a little.

Somewhere between 2000 and 2022, I convinced myself that coffee was giving me energy. When I tested that assumption, it proved false.

I continue to have false beliefs – I’m on the hunt for them.


Sex Drive

One of the best ways to measure if we are coping with our total stress load.

Not just training load.

Sex drive captures the total package of stress in our life as well as health status.


Muscle Mass

One way to resist “looking old” is to get jacked.

One way to resist “feeling old” is to get strong.

Strength training works.

Thing is, doing it well, requires quite a bit of energy.

How best to optimize?

My choice has been to use multi-year cycles.

Get strong once a year and get _really_ strong every 5 years.

When I swing too far towards strength training, my endurance suffers and that has a negative impact on my quality of life.

My approach ends up being a pendulum, between strength and endurance.



Here’s the hazard – a fear of fat, can turn into an obsession with body weight.

As we drive body weight downwards, we can create a negative spiral of losing muscle mass and, eventually, strength.

It takes years for this process to play out.

Personally, I was to be strong for as long as possible.

Strong like Ron!


Few years back. Ron broke the course record in the 65-69. Finished 2nd

Slowing Down

The reality => less overall energy, means less training load, means less training response

We’re going to slow down.

When we let our fear drive our training selection, we can make matters worse.

  • Too much high intensity (Zn 5, Severe & Extreme Domains)
  • Too much sustained intensity (Zn 3 & 4, Heavy Domain)

Use expensive training with intent.

Specifically, as we age, avoid strategies with a high risk of injury.


Injury, and the associated gap in training, results in a step-down in function.

Not gradual and, increasingly, challenging to build back.

Ron stuck with it, took an hour (!) out of 70-74 AG record and won in 2007

What’s the prescription?

Keep fear out of the driver’s seat.

Pay attention to natural signals – mood and sex drive are important metrics.

Balance working towards a “fit future” with enjoying the present.

Feel superb, frequently.

Enjoy the ride.