I am a Woman of Certain Age.
I love that expression. It doesn’t say quite old you are, and gives you a certain je ne sais quoi as quite often you will meet women who could be anything from the age of 35 to 50. Age can be quite secretive and deceiving. So that is where I will sit. I am somewhere between the age of 35 and 50, depending on how I feel when I wake up in the morning!
In the world of triathlon, I am surrounded by women of my age. More than 1 million people stepped up to a triathlon starting line last year—37 percent of them women, according to USA Triathlon. Comforting thought. More so, I am surrounded by women of similar issues, weight fluctuation, career progression, full-time motherhood, and general female issues that many fear to speak about. I have discovered over the years that cycling not only gets you fit but also brings a closed forum in open air to discuss life in general, problems with your boss, difficulties with health, a committee for laughter and the sharing of silly secrets.
More and more women are waking up to the freedom of swimming, cycling and running, and discovering that being outdoors in a group of active women with different desires and aspirations, life experiences and ages can be a much more rewarding experience than that daily lone slog in the gym.
Triathlon training, while often done alone (as you race alone and not in a pack), can often be very social. I speak to ladies on rides and the conversation surrounds shoes, bags, pants, tops, creams and even makeup but this is not your sex, Prada or Estee Lauder conversation. This is the Liv, Betty Designs, Catlike, and Vanderkitten and Hoo Ha Ride Glide conversation where chamois is everything and creams are geared at having a comfortable undercarriage as opposed to blemish cover-up and anti-wrinkle treatment. Clipping in and out is no longer related to Kirby grips or the want of hair accessories but whether your cleats are properly positioned on your pedals and whether you need wedges or not. Hats are not for Ascot, but for swimming which have the least hydrodynamic drag. Goggles are not for reading but for seeing the beautiful ocean as you glide through it. Curious?
The triathlon industry is a growing multimillion dollar industry, sporting most of the world’s top brands of cycles and now even some of the biggest names in triathlon and cycling events, such as Ironman, UCI, ITU and the Challenge Family. Ladies do not be intimidated by this. Whether your bike is an entry level bike or from Bianchi, or whether you are a social or an avid rider/runner/swimmer, your participation and company is valued equally. There is something for everyone in the tri scene and a ride for all abilities.
There are many reasons or excuses to stay indoors. I have loads. The washing, some work, cooking dinner, family time or even the slightest breeze outside can provide a lame excuse for not getting out on the bike or getting into the ocean. I have to remind myself frequently that the benefits from triathlon are plenty, aside from the excellent social side and the opportunity to meet like-minded and interesting people. See below some of the benefits of triathlon (credit to Women’s Health Magazine)
“All that cardiovascular action is good for more than just dropping a few pounds: A recent study in Radiology found that triathletes have larger, healthier hearts and a 17 percent lower heart rate (fewer beats means your ticker is so strong it doesn’t have to work as hard) than other athletes.”
You will also get all over toning, particularly the glutes, calves and quads. Us cyclists have killer legs.
Bike riding boosts energy – A study published in the journal Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics found that bike riding improved energy levels by 20 percent and decreased fatigue by 65 percent. Why? Cycling triggers your brain to release the neurotransmitter dopamine, which is linked to energy, says lead author Patrick O’Connor, Ph.D., a professor of kinesiology at the University of Georgia at Athens. There’s no need to ride hard to harness the perk. People in the study who pedalled at a low to moderate pace three times a week fought fatigue best.
It saves your joints. Because of the amount of cross-training, triathletes build stronger muscles around all of their joints, which reduces their injury risk.
All your muscles will feel it. Find a hill that takes three to 10 minutes to climb, suggests Rebecca Rusch, a world-champion mountain bike racer. Ride up two or three times, spending roughly half the time pedaling out of the saddle. Pedaling while standing engages your core and triceps as you stabilize your body over the bike.
Triathlon training protects your heart – the number one killer in the US and two top risk factors are high blood pressure and high LDL cholesterol. In one study, researchers had 32 women ride at a moderate to high intensity three times a week for at least half an hour. After a year, they’d lowered their blood pressure and LDL, as well as significantly increased their aerobic fitness.
I hear many women say that they won’t come out on training rides until they are fit. Please would those exact ladies sign up for rides. Being with others who ride with you will be a confidence booster and the more time you spend on the bike the stronger you will get. You don’t have to be fit to come on rides. I lead a social 50km ride every Thursday morning at 0630 geared at women who are have not ridden for sometime or need to get their pedals moving again, or similar need a HR ride at a slower pace.
See you out there.
Triathlon Groups in Dubai:
Women’s Triathlon Social Forums
Where to buy a bike in Dubai
Get your bike fit with Barbara Ihrig at TriPod – the only certified female bike fitter in the UAE.