Triathletes, 40-Somethings, Going for Youth

A growing number of men in the 40-to-49 age bracket are becoming triathletes.

Comments: 46

  1. Lots of emphasis on $ for coaching, equipment, etc. It doesn't have to be about bling, bottom line is "motor matters most."

  2. He's worried about getting chicked? Strap your helmet on, Mr. Goodman. There are loads of fast women out there training as hard or harder than you are. It's just a matter of time. You'll get over it. Good luck.

  3. Hold on. 62 (which I am) is the new 40. My best this past summer: second in my age (no jokes about there only being one in my age group). I have now hired a coach, am training 6 days a week, improving my swimming and running times and spinning to improve my fitness. The new Tri Bike is coming. My goal: to win one of these things and it isn't going to be easy, given the competition that is out there. Why do I do Tri's at 62? Simple. It is darn fun. Am I defying aging? No. I'm defying aging the way my parents aged. And staying in darn great shape, to boot.

  4. Started doing triathlons this summer and did 3 already. Spent $300 on a very decent bike and no more than $200 on the rest of the equipment that I use to swim in the pool, to bike to work and I will use next year as well. I am 38 years old and I tell you, you dont need a trainer to compete. And I get chicked all the time and I love it because it is a lot nicer to look at the rear of these chicks rather than 40 something MAMILS (middle age men in lycras) ;-)

  5. Triathlons are a great motivator for me to stay on a regular fitness program and not be bored to death. It's also fun that there are a wide variety of events in terms of length and geography, and, all types of people participating. I'm in my 50s and most inspired by those who are in there 70s and still going for it.

  6. Is it my imagination, or is this author's insight into positive motivation for doing triathlons a bit shallow? It doesn't need to come out of insecurity or fear, you know. Try one, you'll see.

  7. Did one triathlon in 2005, and have never returned to the sport due to this overwhelming fear of swallowing E. coli during the swim portion.

  8. Is there any other sport that attracts as many narcissists as the triathlon?

  9. Oh, and a telling detail: the top keyword-targeted ad pulled up by Google Adwords for this page is for a firm offering hair transplants.

  10. Let's take turns pulling, Lisa, these guys sound like mighty fine targets to me. BTW, it hurts even worse when you're chicked by a 50-something.

  11. I know several 40+ year old triathletes who are near the top of the sport and still winning races among the younger crowd (myself included - as I did not win my first multi-sport race until age 41!). With age comes a certain wisdom on balancing training, job, and family as well as knowing rest is key to getting faster!

  12. Wow, this article is really sexist and elitist. Of course a magazine based on advertising revenues and a marketer of expensive sports equipment are going to emphasize purchasing highly expensive equipment. But most of the men interviewed discuss staying active and avoiding injuries, not that they want to be reading "testosterone-fueled" articles or that they're afraid of being "chicked." Not very good reporting...

  13. The average Ironman athlete spends $22k a year? I'd LOVE to see some data to back that statistic up. Hey NY Times, have you ever heard of this thing, I forget what it's called...oh yeah. REPORTING. Ever think to ask the K Swiss rep where that figure comes from?

    Of course, I can only speak from my anecdotal experience. Sure, there may be some people who blow tons of cash on the sport. And truly, just paying for lodging and the IM itself can run a couple thousand. But unless you're buying a new bike and wetsuit every year, which very few people do, there's no way the average Ironman spends more than $5-10k a year. Note also that many athletes eschew expensive coaching after a few years because they've learned to self-coach.

  14. Worried about getting "chicked"? To me, that's pure macho jock sexism. In any triathlon, only a handful of guys are NOT going to be finishing behind female athletes! And there are a lot of really good female athletes out there.

  15. "There are ... tri-specific running sneakers...." Sneakers? The reporter just lost all credibility with runners.

  16. I enjoyed this article until I read the comment about being "chicked." Did the sexism really have to be added to this? Geez.

  17. One of the great things about triathlon is how women are redefining the standard in terms of both overall performance and participation. Looking forward to more coverage of this fantastic sport, including the female athletes in it.

    Margreet Dietz, author of Powered From Within: Stories About Running & Triathlon and Running Shoes Are a Girl's Best Friend

  18. "Is it my imagination, or is this author's insight into positive motivation for doing triathlons a bit shallow? "

    Hmm, several commenters here seem to have the same imagination. What is especially odd is that the Times splashes a huge amount of ink promoting the NYC Marathon.

    And for the truly mercenary, wouldn't a demographic willing to spend $22 K per year on triathlons (as if!) be an attractive target market for the Times? Or did they somehow confuse triathletes with Tea Partiers?

  19. I'm 50+ and swim at a pool where I often "chick" male swimmers. They are frequently really horrible about it. This macho nonsense has gotten old and very tiring. Guys, get a life.

  20. I cannot believe you are not already incredibly used to getting "chicked."
    I am several years older than you Eric, a woman, and I would be more than a minute ahead of you in that mile time mentioned in the article!(and I am not considered a very fast woman). Good luck with that, I guess whatever keeps you motivated....

  21. I thought we could learn something from the boomers re: denial about the natural passages of life. There is nothing sadder than someone chasing a life stage they have aged out of. You can be optimally fit at any age, but it shouldn't cost $$$ nor should it take over your life or involve "performance." I look at these people and shake my head.

  22. D (17) is right. I was reading right along until the end, when sexism and male insecurity came into the article out of nowhere.

    May Mr. Goodman lose all his future races to a woman.

  23. That comment about being "chicked" is pathetic. What a fragile ego that person has. I pity him.

  24. It's not narcissism, it's functional denial, and it works. You're not getting older if you keep feeling younger.

  25. Just bicycle commute, you will accomplish the same things without the extremes.

  26. As the men in my office age, I feel more in more of my Monday mornings are taken up by them informing me of every minor athletic achievement. won the ring toss...

  27. I did 13 of these in the 80's, even some euro lengths, and then started a family. In my last one in 96, I overheard a bunch of people(men and women) with low body fat talking about going to Jersey Shore next weekend, then Cape weekend after that, and on and on. Never did another one. MOst people i know because of the economy are exercising less, not more.

  28. Triathalons are about so much more than gear. This article is so shallow. Did I close my eyes and travel back to 1950? Did the NYT really just end a piece with a quote from a man worried about getting "chicked?!" Where is the reporting? Does the NYT have any standards for their freelance writers anymore? Let your interns write these features. I'm sure they'd do a better job.

  29. Another subset of men to avoid.

  30. I'm sick and tired of hearing that 40 is the new 20, and so on. That makes it sound like being 20 is better. It's not. I've become much wiser with age and I would never want to be a stupid 20 again. I've very happy with my age. You are what you are. If you choose to become a lump, you become a lump, no matter how old you are.

    Personally, I'm 53 and work out at least three days a week. I do it because it gives me more energy, more abilities and because it makes me feel good. I'm not looking to compete with anyone else, or to become 20 again. I'm also not doing it to pick up chicks or because of what anyone else thinks. I could care less. I'm doing it for me.

  31. All good, but there is still running. Running is the only sports bad for the knees and joints, no matter what. One should create a thriatlon version where running is substituted by something healthier. Definitely.
    Running is great fun, but not everyone wants to risk looking like a 85-year-old runner down the road, or feeling like they have legs of one. Running is definitely on the way out, if only in a few decades.

  32. I agree with many of the comments about this article. I never used the word chic'd and the last quote is not mine. Humans can not beat aging or death. These are two constants in life. The point is for anyone - women and men - to do their best to stay healthy and fit.

    If I had a chance to see, read, or edit this article before it was published the focus would not be money or gear or starting controversy between the sexes. It would be truly about the health benefits of doing excerise while entering the later half of our lives.

  33. why is the nyt always so obsessed with framing things in terms of age and aging? who cares about someone's numerical age? why do these articles always imply that people are resisting something rather than just living? maybe the times writers should reflect on their own neuroses a bit more? some better supervision? before projecting it on everyone else?

  34. I've played competitive sports all my life and I like running, biking and (not so much) swimming. Cross training keeps me fit with less of the pounding of running. And so, I'm a 43 year old triathlete.

    As noted, you can definitely do triathlons on the cheap, but the gear is great and not necessarily more expensive than other hobbies (sailing, skiing, motorcycling, etc.). The bikes are marvels of design and engineering. Riding fast on a Cervélo is pure joy. Also, distance swimming in the open ocean is amazing: a beautiful and rare experience.

    The races are whatever you want them to be: competitions, personal journeys, gatherings of like minds, whatever. The Ironman is an iconic, premier, athletic challenge, so incredibly hard it takes courage just to commit to training for it. Bravo to all the Ironmen and Ironwomen! Some day, I'll join your ranks.

  35. I, too, was stunned by tunnel vision of this article. "Mr. Goodman is part of a generation of athletic, type-A men who are entering middle age and trying to hold on to their youth through triathlons." Seriously, that's your angle? And the only woman you could find to interview on this topic was the wife of an interview subject?

    But the NYT only reflects broader patterns about how this sport is often reported: as the province of independently wealthy (it would seem) athletes, or Type-A corporate types (generally men) who are implicitly trying to compensate for something hollow in their lives. I did my first sprint-tri at age 44 this year, and I've never raced in anything in my life. I did the same time as an 18-year-old guy. But to be fair, it was probably his first race. Oh, wait! It was *my* first race, too. I'm sure any day now he will recover from the humiliation of having nearly been "chicked" by a woman more than twice his age.

    You don't do any service to this burgeoning sport by representing it as financially burdensome. I bought my used road bike for $50 about 10 years ago -- it has over 4,000 miles on it. And it helped me pass quite a lot of other participants. My running shoes cost about 30 bucks. I got spring suit (short wetsuit) for $55. Ok, I did drop $55 for my cycling sunglasses, but I'm sure I could have gotten away with a pair for $18. My outlay for trainers? (please) I got a ton of advice and encouragement from an online forum for . . . (calculating) nothing!

    Three female colleagues of mine and I have been talking about training for a triathlon next summer: one is a women in her 30s who did her first tri this year about a year after giving birth to her first child, another is a woman like me in her 40s who's never done a tri, and the fourth is a breast cancer-survivor who thought this new challenge would be a good way to celebrate turning 50. Thank you for writing this article. It is going to annoy the hell out of all of us, which means we're actually going to have to follow through on our plans!

  36. Eric is extremely respectful of women – and especially women athletes! The “chicked” statement is not his own and is simply sensational. He is regularly challenged and motivated by females of all ages during his races and training sessions. Based on my sideline observations, triathlon is a very positive, welcoming sport. This article simply does not reflect that truth.

  37. I would never enter a Triathlon due to bad knees and a replaced hip. However I ride 200-250 miles a week and love the peace and solitude. I am passed, sometimes by women, sometimes by younger men and sometimes by older men. I do not care. I also pass the same and take not triumph from the fact. We will all be passed and pass . The beauty of a well fitting bike, the country roads where I live and the sounds and feels of a body at work are all that is required. Trying to win a trophy is irrelevant. I am 57 and started doing this seriously at age 17. I look forward to many more years of the same and hope that those in a race to win will find the beauty and peace that is with me every time I am on a bike.

  38. I took up triathlon at age of 39 after playing hockey. I got tired of nutjobs thinking they still had a chance to make the NHL and acting, since taking up the sport I find out I've become a cliche. LOL. I liked the article, though I think the term for this guy is a "Fred", IE someone who over does it with the equipment and toys for short races. I also think the "chick-d" thing was a little pathetic. There are a lot of fast women racers. Getting passed by women is no big deal, but since they always write your age on your calf muscle, its always humbling to be passed by a sixty year old.

  39. There are many negative comments here. Why? Isn't it what we should be doing? In our current obesity epidemic society, this article is trying to motivate us to start exercising. It can be any kind of sports, not just triathlons. I, myself, started triathlons at age 35. I am still keep doing that. It gives me many benefit physically and psychologically.

  40. This article was bogus. I guess I'm the guy described in this article. I'm 39, I run a business and have a family and I have raced triathlons for 17 years. I took 4 years off after having a bunch of kids and was really unhappy during that period.

    It's not about "going for youth" even vaguely. It's about being healthy and feeling good. I recommend some of the sloths on this thread (and the writers of the article) read "Born to Run". We are genetically engineered for endurance and when humans don't exercise, they are less happy and have a million and a half health problems.

    And if "exercise is narcissistic" - which personally I think is the way someone who doesn't exercise justifies it and deals with their own ego issues - then at least it's focused on something that makes you a happier, healthier and a more positive person.

  41. Goal setting is another important aspect of triathlons that the author failed to emphasize. Training for and participating in triathlons sharpens skills for setting and achieving realistic goals in reasonable increments - skills that can be very helpful in work and in life.

  42. Puhleaze. The sanctimonious attitude here is incredible. Fact: triathletes are mostly male. Fact: the tri market is mostly male. They spend over 85% of the money, because expensive tri gear is the new mid-life crisis sports car. Get over yourselves. Just because someone else spends a lot of money on their gear and you didn't doesn't make you God's gift to Man. Or Woman. Please, try to make the world a better place, not a bitter place.

  43. The position of the "gentleman" on his fancy TT bike is almost as lame as his insecure ranting. I get more aero on the hoods of my road bike than he can when he's on his aerobars. Thousands of dollars in aero equipment is money down the drain with a horrible position like that.

    Also, nothing exemplifies the me-first mentality that's rampant in triathlons more than the practice of having shoes clipped into bikes for a purportedly faster transition. Here's what actually happened, to the pros nonetheless.

  44. Too bad the woman who wrote the article forgot to write about the women who have also taken to the sport - nothing wrong with trying to stay fit.

  45. Why is maintaining fitness or a pursuing a little friendly competition in life labeled as an attempt to recapture youth? Believing that fitness is only for the young or competitive athletes is a big reason for the US healthcare woes.

    Further, as an ironman finisher, I can assure you that $22K a year for the average Ironman is an absurd fabrication. I have high-end equipment and travel all over the world for races and I haven't spent that amount in 4 years. I seriously doubt the average would be that high if you were including sponsored professionals. And Ironman is not the longest triathlon, there are races up to triple Ironman distance. Really poor reporting.

    Finally, if Mr. Goodman can only run a 6:30 mile, he's getting "chicked" A LOT in every race, and there is nothing wrong with that.