What to Do When You Are an Injured Triathlete
For the past 3 months I have been training for an upcoming race in Austin, TX on May 30, 2017. I have upped my game significantly in order to be ready for this race. I am swimming about 8000-9000 yards a week now, riding and running a lot too. My training volume has been at an all time high these past several weeks. I have been feeling confident in my strength and speed and feel pretty on top of my game. So last Saturday after a 40 mile ride I came home to do a one hour run (which I was supposed to do the day before but was too tired.) I felt a little sluggish at first and the temperatures were heating up a little as I started out. I felt a little ankle pain as I started off which got progressively worse as I ran on, but I kept on going anyway since I was 2 miles from home. I noticed at church that the top of my ankle was burning when I put on my high heel shoes. I could hardly walk normally up to get communion. So I laid low last week and did zero running and I couldn't ignore the pain anymore so I made an orthopedic appointment for yesterday. The pain was starting to shoot up to the side of my knee because of the way I am walking on my sore foot. About 3 doctors saw me yesterday and they all diagnosed me with posterior tibial tendonitis. The last doctor thought maybe I have a stress fracture but isn't sure and an MRI will tell me this tomorrow. He also told me I have some of the flattest feet he's ever seen and basically insinuated that I am a walking example of somebody who has a short lived running career. LOL if he only knew how many times I have been told that.
They sent me down the hall to be fitted for a prescription orthotic, which I really can't stand wearing those in my shoes. They make me feel like I am running on the outside of my feet. They also told me I will be wearing a boot for a few weeks until the soreness subsides.
I walked out of the office still processing all of this. I was kind of in shock but not really because I know I have a persistent injury. I just didn't want to hear the actual words I guess. They shut me down completely from all impact -jumping, weight bearing, pushing hard-all the stuff I normally do all day anyway. I gotta say I had a huge cry in the parking lot, at my gym with my friends, and all night last night when it started to sink in.
I have had this injury once before. The foot doctor told me back in 2000 that I had very flat feet and that this would be something I would always have to monitor throughout my running career. So this absolutely does not come as a shock to me except for the fact that it hurts in a few different places, not just the posterior tibial tendon...
So NOW WHAT?
After a few days of off and on crying, this is just like any other misfortune that comes my way. It's how you pick yourself up off the ground and TAKE ACTION to fix the problem. So here are my BEST tips to get over your injury the smartest and fastest way possible.
1. Remind yourself that there are way worse things that could be happening to you. You have not been diagnosed with an incurable disease. What you have is TREATABLE and will eventually heal. I always say this and it's so true: There are people praying for what you take for granted. This means there are people out there suffering way worse conditions than you. Yes being injured sucks but put it in perspective.
2. Make a plan. Take in all your information on what is exactly broken, strained, fractured, etc and WRITE DOWN what you will do each day to get it healing. Plan your PT appointments, chiropractor appointments, massages, etc each week and stick to them. The little things add up to final healing.
3. Do what the doctors tell you. They see this stuff all day long. If this means wearing the boot for a while just do it. If it means no impact on your injury then no impact on your injury. The one doctor told me that he sees athletes all the time who won't let an injury heal and they just keep on coming back with no change in progress. What's the point of that?
4. Do Physical Therapy. They have all kinds of great options to help athletes with injuries now. If you can work that in then GO!! Ask for some exercises you can do at home to help with the recovery process.
5. Remember the other 2 sports. If this is a running injury, then take advantage of the pool and strive to improve your swim. Bring your running shoes to the pool and run in the deep end. If you can ride the bike, then do more of that instead of running. You can also strength train and hit the weights. Check out my video for how to strength train if you are wearing a boot!
6. Try to enjoy the less intense training for a while. Remember that your body is actually making gains right now through resting. Spend time with your kids and your family. Cook healthy meals, do a day trip. Take advantage of the time off and do things that you wouldn't be able to do if you were training hard.