Triathlete dives into water

Stepping Up From Triathlete To Age Grouper

If you’re a competitive triathlete who wants the thrill and excitement of competing nationally and internationally, but without the stress and pressure of being a professional athlete, then stepping up to becoming an Age Grouper is for you. Find out more about what it takes, how to train as an Age Grouper, and what it’s like competing in a World Championship with insights from Roslyn McGinty. Roslyn has represented the Team GB Age Group triathlon team in both Middle Distance and Long Distance events and has won a Silver medal at the World Long Distance Championships. 

What does Age Grouper mean in triathlon?

Being an Age Grouper in triathlon means you are in-between being a regular, non-competitive triathlete and a professional athlete. It gives everyday people with full-time jobs and families the unique opportunity to compete on a world stage and represent their country in the sport of triathlon. All this, without the need to worry about securing sponsorships and managing life as a professional athlete.

Roslyn says, “It may not be as hard to qualify as you think, so anyone interested should definitely look into it. I have made some amazing friends both within Team GB and internationally from competing at events over the past twelve years.”

If you’re interested in racing in Europe and the rest of the world, it also gives you the chance to experience foreign countries in a way you never would otherwise. Roslyn says, “I never have to make difficult choices about where to go on holiday. My races are my holidays and I have travelled all over the world to race.  Wearing the Team GB kit and representing our country feels really special.”

How to qualify for the GB Age Group team

So, how do you become a triathlon age grouper? Firstly, you must be a member of Triathlon England, Triathlon Scotland or Welsh Triathlon and you must have either a Core or Ultimate British Triathlon membership which includes your race licence. You must be a British Citizen to race for Team GB and depending on the race distance that you choose, there are different qualifying criteria.

What are the age group categories in triathlon?

There are separate categories for males and females, which are then split into age groups as follows:

20 – 24

25 – 29

30 – 34

35 – 39

40 – 44

45 – 49

50 – 54

55 – 59

60 – 64

65 and over

British Triathlon Age Group qualifying times

In order to qualify for the Team GB triathlon Age Group team, there are no set qualifying times. Instead, qualifying is based on the finishing time of the winner in each qualifying race. There are 4 places available per age group so you must finish within the top 4 to qualify. 

For Super Sprint, Sprint, and Standard Distances, you’ll need to check which triathlon races are eligible for Age Group qualification and register your intent to qualify before race day.

For Middle and Long Distance races, you register your intent to qualify after you have completed the race. Make sure your race result meets the criteria outlined by British Triathlon.

How to train as a triathlon Age Grouper

Triathlon Age Groupers, although not professional athletes, are still the top in their category. This means that racing as an Age Grouper is very competitive and you’ll need to train hard. Roslyn says, “I am a firm believer that consistency and discipline are key to reach the required standards to compete at this level.”

Joining A Triathlon Club

Triathlon Clubs are a great way to meet like-minded athletes and many people find the camaraderie and accountability of arranging to meet a training partner to be essential for them to stay focused. Roslyn advises, “If you are new to triathlon, I would highly recommend becoming part of a club, as the knowledge, support and wisdom you will obtain is well worth it and there are often coached sessions available too.”  

Hiring A Coach

If you’re trying to decide whether it’s worth hiring a triathlon coach, there are a few things to consider. Roslyn explains, “Having a coach is great, especially if you are new to the sport. Or if you’re experienced and want to find marginal gains. I find a coach works for me because I struggle to find the time to plan my training and having a triathlon coach helps deciding when to back off with training ready to taper or to recover from a race.”  

Measuring triathlon success with data

If you’re going to train and race at the level of a triathlon Age Grouper, you’ll need to measure your training metrics and analyse your data to make improvements to your performance. A device like the INCUS NOVA will allow you to train smarter, improve your technique, and make sure you are getting the most out of every single session. You may be surprised at how easily INCUS data can help you to swim faster and run faster.

Typical Week of Training For A Triathlon Age Grouper

Roslyn gives an idea of what a typical week of training looks like. 

Monday - Rest day.

Tuesday - I often do a double session. A hard bike interval workout in the morning and either an easier turbo in the evening or during the summer I might swim in the local lake.

Wednesday - I do a 1-hour run in the morning.

Thursday - I do an easy spin on the bike with some activation in the morning. I then race virtually in a team time trial on a Thursday evening with my teammates who are all over the world.

Friday - I do a long and/or intense swim session.

Saturday - I do a long bike session. This tends to be an interval session and I usually ride this remotely with friends.

Sunday - I do a long run on a Sunday and if I have friends nearby I will have a social mountain bike ride too.

I also do two sessions of strength and conditioning a week. I generally do this at home or at the office. It is amazing what you can accomplish without gym equipment - I improvise a lot!

Training Advice For Triathlon Age Groupers

When it comes to training, Rosyln has the following advice: 

  • Don't take it too seriously!  
  • Be disciplined and consistent but make sure that you enjoy your sessions. 
  • Don't shy away from your weaknesses, instead work out a method to overcome them. 
  • If you struggle with a lack of motivation, try to find a training partner. 
  • If there is a session that you particularly dislike or struggle with, find someone to keep you company.  
  • Don’t be afraid to fail.

Triathlon Age Group World Championships

One of the biggest benefits of being a triathlon Age Grouper is the opportunity to compete on an international level. So what’s it like to compete at the Triathlon Age Group World Championships? Roslyn explains, “Competing at the Age Group World Championships is a fun and friendly experience. There is a parade of nations prior to the event as well as a pasta party and a team hotel which all adds to the hype and atmosphere. There are Facebook groups with plenty of banter before the races and they act as a port of call to help with any issues prior to the race or even once you have arrived.”

As well as being fun and friendly, World Championships are fiercely competitive. Rosyln says, “Competition can be stiff but I wouldn’t want it any other way. I have made many friends over the years both in Team GB as well as athletes from other nations.”

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