Influence of race distance and biological sex on age-related declines in triathlon performance: Part A

Sam Shi Xuan Wu, Jeremiah P Peiffer, Jeanick Brisswalter, Wing Y Lau, Kazunori Nosaka, Chris R Abbiss

Abstract


This study examined the effect of biological sex and race distance on the age-related declines in swimming, cycling, running and overall performances of the sprint, Olympic, Half-Ironman and Ironman triathlons. Individual discipline and overall performance time of the top 20% non-elite males (n=468) and females (n=146) were compared by categorizing into four 10-year age-groups (20-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50+ years) and normalising to the mean performance time of the fastest age-group for each race. An earlier, larger and faster rate of decline (p=0.01) in performance with ageing was observed in females (≥30 years, 9.3%, 3.0% per decade respectively) and males (≥40 years, 5.9%, 2.2% per decade, respectively) for the longer events (half-Ironman and Ironman) compared with the shorter distances (sprint and Olympic, ≥50 years for both sexes). A greater magnitude of decline was observed in swimming for both sexes, especially in the longer events, when compared with cycling and running (12.8%, 5.6%, 9.3% for females, 9.4%, 3.7%, 7.3% for males, in the swim, cycle and run disciplines, respectively). These results indicate that both race distance and biological sex influence the age-related decline in triathlon performance and could aid athletes in optimising training programs to attenuate the age-related declines in performance across different disciplines and distances. Specifically, older athletes may benefit from greater emphasis on swim training and factors that may influence performance during longer distance triathlons.


Keywords


Sprint triathlon; Olympic triathlon; half-Ironman triathlon; Ironman triathlon; gender

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