Top 5 advice – Personal [email protected] at 53

 In Magnus Jonsson

The challenge “faster +50” continues and 2019 was a semi successful year. On the negative side; I didn’t manage to do a faster overall Ironman race. On the positive side; I came back racing 2 Ironman races after 15months of operations, antibiotics and illness and I managed to do a personal best in the swim and run disciplines. After reflecting a bit on what I think was the most important factors leading up to the results, I want to share my conclusions and hopefully some of the advice might be useful for others.

Ironman Mexico 2019 – Swim:

49:24 (no wetsuit) previous PB was 21 years ago in Ironman Australia 1998 – 51;41 (wetsuit).

My 5 top advice:

  1. DRILLS: As I still hurt after the broken clavicle I have not done much speed work – but more drills and more focus on getting the best position in the water and efficiency. Anytime you swim with former swimmers you will note that they do drills almost every session – even if they have been swimming for +15years.
  2. FEW BUT GOOD ADVICE: One of the best swim coaches I have ever met gave me one or two pointers that I have focused on for the past 6 months. That has really made a difference. Anyone can point out lots of things to work on but a really good coach can identify what really will make a difference for you specifically.
  3. TRUST ENDURANCE: I was a bit worried that I would become slow from only doing distance training – specially when you see all people (Triathletes – not swimmers) mainly doing intervall, high intensity stuff. Never felt better in both Italy and Mexico and had two races under 55min in choppy conditions.
  4. BUILD INTO IT: Finally, I have realized that most Ironman races has quite a relaxed start with “rolling start” and you don’t have to sprint the first 400meters anymore (except Lanzarote which still is a beach/mass start). So I have started to take it a bit easier the first 1500m and then increase towards the end.
  5. DO YOUR OWN SWIM: Sure you can gain by drafting on the swim and it’s allowed – but I think it really sucks to have to follow someone who is not swimming at the exact pace I like – so I rather go on my own and enjoy the solitude.

Ironman Italy 2019 – Run:

3:23:55 previous PB was 22years ago in Ironman World Championships, Hawaii 1997 – 3:26:02

My 5 top advice:

  1. EFFICIENCY: I was injured during the summer and had to take a few months off from running. Once I started again my main focus was to run as efficient as possible – I was not able to do any intervalls and high intensity as the injury came back as soon as I tried.
  2. LAND, PUSH AND REPEAT: Similar to swimming I have the benefit of the best advice from my physiotherapist Johan Lind at Friskvårdskollen. The reason I got injured was likely due to a slight misalignment in how I land and with his long experience and knowledge in running we made two small adjustments that took away a lot of discomfort and made it possible for me to increase my running distance up to 75-80km/week.  The adjustment also made running so much more fluid and the calf pain that I always have had after my +25km runs disappeared.
  3. PACING: In most my races I have done what most triathletes do (at least what we used to before GPS watches and heart rate monitors). I would jump of the bike and run “as I felt” for as long as I could. This typically means running to fast until 28km, blow up and struggle the last 14km to finish line. My good friend Bernhard told me before Ironman Lanzarote 2018 to decide on finish time instead and run every kilometer at the speed that would deliver that time. That worked really well and is exactly what I did again in Italy.
  4. CADECE: Berhard have also identified that my cadence is a little slow and over the past 2 years I have gradually lifted it. Changing fundamental things like cadence takes time and focus – just like Berhard said, a few steps per minute might take a year to become comfortable with but reduces impact and stress over time.
  5. STRENGTH: I have been religious about getting my core and stability training done twice per week (prescribed by Johan Lind at Friskvårdskollen). Its boring as hell but it’s much worse to skip it for a few weeks and feel how the body starts to sag back into poor posture and the soreness you get after running on a weak core. After 50 I doubt it’s even possible to get up to 75-80km/week running on top of 10hours biking and 10,000m swimming without core/strength training – at least not if you are a “full grown” (82-83kg/191cm). Perhaps guys who weigh 55 kg can handle the impact – but when your build like a moose it’s a different story.


So how’s the overall “faster +50” challenge going?

It depends how you want to look at it: I’m more or less back racing at the same pace as 20 years ago. If my challenge was to beat others, I would be happy as I now place on the podium much more often than I did when I was AG25-30. But I am really not interested in how I place against others. There is nothing to be gained racing against other who are +50 (other than perhaps ego-boost for those in need of such things).

My goal remains; to become faster than I was – in actual finish times, by being smarter than I was 20 years ago, to train better, have more patience and gratitude for the fact that I can. This year was one step towards the goal. I am getting older and will really need to have a perfect preparation and race to be able to beat my old times. Next try should have been Ironman Lanzarote 23rd of May, 2020 but due to the current pandemic I’m not sure when I will be able to race 2020.


Recent Posts

Leave a Comment