When it comes to running and triathlon training, injury prevention should be the focus of your training. All too often athletes are under the illusion that they are superhuman and subsequently place their bodies under huge amounts of stress as they seek to make rapid gains in their fitness. What they don’t realise is that too much training can actually not only lead to a decrease in fitness but can also lead to show stopping injuries that can put a complete halt to any race plans.
Follow these top tips to help reduce the risk of injury and prolong your running or triathlon career.
Top Tip #1 Rest & Recovery
Believe it or not, one of the most common caused of injuries in running and triathlon is from people over training. By undertaking too many training sessions too quickly, athletes don’t allow their bodies time to adapt, repair and grow into their new training program. All too many people who start out with the best intensions end up biting off more than they can chew in the first few weeks of their training and end up having to spend the next few weeks recovering from injuries that could have easily been avoided.
To give your body time to adapt and repair, make sure that you only train every other day during the first few weeks of any new training program. As you slowly increase the mileage and the number of your training sessions you can slowly start to reduce the rest days but only if you subsequently reduce your mileage by 20% ever few weeks to head off any of the first signs of injury.
The golden rule that I follow is to always have at least one rest day during the week. Not only does this make sure that you recover enough from a week’s worth of hard work but it also means that you can go into the next week of training with new vigour and a new mental resolve. Over the long run this will pay dividends as the quality of your training will improve (and also your training/personal life balance!)
Top Tip #2 Slow Down To Speed Up
One of the best ways to speed up is to slow down. This age old running rhetoric still holds true today as switching out some of those intense sessions for longer slower sessions can boost your training for the better.
Slower paced sessions focus on keeping your heart rate down below the lactate threshold, not only improving stamina and endurance but also slowly getting your body used to training over longer distances. Too many fast sessions can place a large strain on your venerable joints and tendons, leading to acute injuries such as rotator injuries and impact injuries such as stress fractures. You should never under take a program that incorporates lots of consecutive intense training sessions without placing some longer slower sessions in the middle as this will also give your body time to recover from those fast sessions as your switch to using different muscles.
Top Tip #3 Cross Train
I cannot stress how important it is to build different types of exercise sessions into your weekly routine. If you simply undertake the same training sessions over and over again you will not only quickly stagnate but you will also massively increase the risk of picking up an overuse injury such as Tendonitis. Quickly those smaller muscles that you rely on for stability will become worn down as the constant repetitive training will wear them down and they will stop being able to do the job that they were designed to do – keep you running, cycling or swimming efficiently.
To ensure that you give those small muscles a break and improve the strength of other lesser used muscles it is important to cross train. If you are a long distance runner or cyclist then you should think about hitting the pool every once in a while and every endurance sport can benefit from a regular gym session involving resistance weights to build muscle strength and tone.
Top Tip #4 Ice
As an endurance athlete ice will quickly become your best friend. From preventing swelling in over-trained joints, tendons and muscles, to soothing burns caused by cycle crashes, ice has a thousand uses. Make sure you have a few bags of frozen peas in your freezer and don’t be afraid to use them!
If you are unfortunate enough to pick up an injury during the course of your training then rest and recuperation is the best option. If on the other hand your injury isn’t your fault then it may be time to call in the experts. Click here for more information.