Thursday, December 13, 2012

How many races do USAT All Americans do?

I was checking out USA Triathlon rankings for my age group; turns out I should make the All American (top 5% group) for the first time ever which is pretty cool. Anyway, browsing through the numbers, I noticed two things. First, an All American in my age group has 38 races! I cannot fathom that! Second, my 9 races were among the most -- only 5 out of the 91 All Americans in the 45-49 age group have 9 or more races.

That got me wondering, how many races do the top triathletes do, and are there differences by gender and by age?

Standings are not final until sometime in February, but I worked with the data that was posted as of this morning, December 13, 2012. These include the pros too and I believe they get pruned out before the final rankings, but I think having their data in here makes it even better.

Averaging across ALL the All Americans, I found that females averaged 5.44 races (n=647, sd=2.49) and males averaged about the same 5.48 (n=1273, sd=2.39).

Here's what it looks like by gender and age group:

Predictably, there's a bit of a 'U' shape when life is the most hectic there in mid-life probably due to kids and a shift in priorities and we race a little less. Sample size drops fast after 64 so those numbers are a little less stable. Still, there were no real discernible gender differences here.

We all know there is a "sweet spot" for racing so that it's enough to stay sharp but not so much that we are in a constant cycle of taper and recovery. I will probably hit 9 races again this year, but that includes a double at Nationals and one that is just one town up and requires no travel. Some people can tolerate more racing, some less. For me, travel is my limiting factor, in terms of time, expense, and disruption to the family flow.

I also graphed the number of qualified triathletes (3 or more races) by gender and age group that shows the drop off after 40-44 and also the pretty significant gender gap. What's up with that?