If you are an athlete chances are that you will at some point in your racing career experience an injury or two. Or three. We love our sport so much and we give so much of ourselves to it, sometimes without taking into consideration the toll it takes on our bodies. This has been a lesson I have had to learn the hard way over the years. The year 2018 was a year of FIXING things that were broken and giving myself ample time to recover. After 2 major foot surgeries and all the rehab, I'm pretty certain I could write a book on injury. I speak from experience here.
Injury starts with small, bearable pain that may be nagging, but not enough to stop an athlete from doing that sport. But these are the very little injuries that turn into something bigger, and most of the time this is because of neglect on our part. Triathletes are usually on a timeline, and our training hours are precious to us. We don't want to let anything get in the way of our training or our A RACE! Most triathletes will push through the pain in an unhealthy way in order to get that check in the block.
I've been injured more times than I care to count, but looking back I'm pretty certain many of these could have been avoided if I had trained smarter and looked at the big picture. So take a look at what I have listed here and think about incorporating these into your own training.
1. Always warm up before any training session. You never want to go from 0 to 60 without easing your body into the ride, run, or swim. For running and biking, it's always a good idea to do the first 5 minutes at an easy pace. For swim, a land warm up is always good such as shoulder/arm swings, jumping jacks, high kicks, etc before you get in the pool followed by 10 minutes of easy swimming.
2. Use the 10% rule when it comes to increasing training volume (according to Ironman University). Gradually increase your mileage or yardage each week a little at a time, otherwise you are asking for injury. So if you have not run in a while, it's best to ease back into it by starting off at low mileage and intensity and gradually building from there. If you are coming off of some significant time off, it's best to start off at the lower end of your training zones (ZR/Z1) until you have a significant base built before you get into harder efforts.
3. Use good self care resources such as Chiropractor/Massage/Athletic Trainer. I am a HUGE fan of good self care and I tell my athletes often that they need to have a PLAN in place to take care of themselves for recovery. Treating yourself to a massage a few times a month is not only a luxury but in my book it is necessary for relaxation and recovery. Triathletes put a TON of stress on their bodies and it just makes good sense to be nice to it when we can. I have a chiropractor that I use often and I communicate with him about what is going on with my body, what I am doing for training, and how I am feeling overall. If something hurts I have him work on it and always ask for exercises to do at home. Being proactive will help avoid injury in the long run.
4. PiYo Workout. I swear by this program. It is very nice for athletes because it is one stop shopping for strength, cardio, and flexibility all in one workout. You can also pick and choose which tracks you want depending on the goal of your workout. This program will lengthen and stretch your quads, glutes, hamstrings, hip flexors, and lower back like no other. The dynamic movements will keep your HR up and give you a great sweat too. This is a great program to do on a cross train or strength training day. For recovery, sometimes I do just the flow section for a deep stretch. You can get it by clicking HERE.
5. Eat high quality food for repair and recovery. You'll want to load your plate with lots of fruits, vegetables, and protein for building and repairing tissue. I add a collagen supplement for healthy joints and ligaments, and I usually get this in the all natural section of the grocery store in powder form. In my opinion, if you want REALLY good all natural nutrition that covers all the bases, then get a month supply of Shakeology. It's your daily dose of dense nutrition- it's actually a meal replacement loaded with protein, phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and digestive enzymes. It's very low in calories when you add ice and water to it and it tastes like a milkshake. I have been drinking this for almost 5 years and I love it. The benefits are countless. Want to try it for a month? Click HERE.
6. Sleep well! I hear and see this all the time and it's true! I usually get about 7.5 hours of sleep per night myself, but I do notice that on the night that I get eight + hours I definitely feel more refreshed the next day. Not only do fitness gains happen in the recovery, but our bodies repair themselves when we SLEEP.
7. Listen to your body. According to Ironman University, an athlete whose resting heart rate increases 7 or more points upon waking after a hard workout is not fully recovered. Other signs of fatigue that have the potential to lead to injury include unusually sore muscles, loss of hunger, higher RPE during workouts, broken sleep, night sweats, and apathy toward training. (Ironman University)