While elite athletes headlined last week’s ITU World Triathlon Grand Final Chicago competition, age groupers also had the chance to show the world what they can do on the city’s lakefront. The ITU Age-Group World Championships took place Sept. 17 with a sprint event and continued Sept. 19 with the Standard (Olympic) distance race.
For age group athlete Michele Tuttle of Columbia, Maryland, the race was familiar territory. Tuttle, who competed in both the sprint and Olympic races, took third in the 2013 ITU Age-Group Sprint World Championships for the Female 50-54 age group and eighth in the Olympic race in the same year.
“The sprint is the stronger one, and the Olympic is more for fun, but I’m always racing if you put a timing chip on me,” Tuttle says.
Tuttle, who began competing in triathlons seven years ago, is one of hundreds of masters-aged athletes that will raced last weekend. While many triathletes peak some time in their 30s, athletes can continue to maintain a competitive edge by adjusting their training to allow for more recovery time, Tuttle says.
“Part of [training] is consistency, but part if also being willing to take an off-season,” Tuttle says. “Especially being older, there’s only so much racing I can do. I only race once a month at a high level. I pick my events carefully and train specifically for them.”
Tuttle, a registered dietitian, also works to make sure her nutrition supports her training.
“You can’t outrun a bad diet, or out-bike it or out-swim it,” Tuttle, whose training was sponsored by the Wheat Foods Council, says. “Exercise is one thing, but training this hard means that there’s a lot of damage, too. I eat lots of fruit and vegetables, protein, focus on glycogen replacement and grains. I eat a lot of wheat because that works well for me.”
Tuttle was the third U.S. woman to cross the finish line in the female 50-54 age group in the sprint race, finishing fourth overall in her age group with a 1:15:36. She took eighth in the Standard distance race.