At the time of writing this the triathlon season is slowly coming to an end. I set myself the goal this summer of competing in a triathlon to see what all the hype was about... and I loved it!
If you’ve ever taken part in a triathlon or you’re part of a club, you will have come across an awesome group of supportive people who are addicted to doing their best. You’ll also notice that many are training and competing through injury, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but is not ideal of course, so I'd like to discuss some of my thoughts about this in this blog.
Here are my top four tips (from a Podiatry perspective) for avoiding injuries while training for a triathlon...
1. Don’t overdo it!
Trust me, this sport is very addictive. And when I say addictive, triathlon can be compared to having some popcorn at the movies, once you have a bite to eat, you’ll want to go back for more. I have noticed that throughout my triathlon club there are a slew of injuries that could’ve been easily preventable with a more conservative approach. Many triathlete’s strong point tends to be the running leg. Running is cheap, easy and accessible, but is also a leading cause of overuse injuries. Research has shown that a 10% increase in activity from week to week is a great way to prevent running related injuries. So download Strava or another application on your phone to track your mileage throughout the week. If you’re fortunate enough to have a GPS watch, even better. Remember if this is your first triathlon, your goal should be to just finish!
2. Brick training sessions
What’s a brick session you ask? Want your legs to feel like jelly? Complete a brick session!
In all seriousness though, a brick session is where at least two of the disciplines are stacked into a workout with no rest in between. Sure, it might sound easy to jump off your bike and go for a run, but I assure you it’s not. Many injuries relating to running occur due to fatigue. I’d be lying to you if I said my calves and achilles weren’t cramping on the runs in a brick session. Likewise, I can guarantee you my running form wasn’t pretty due to my fatigue. So it’s a great idea to slowly incorporate brick sessions so that your body will adapt to the stimulus you’re putting it under and adapt so that you can perform at a higher level and reduce your risk of injury.
3. Cycling can seriously hurt your feet!
Podiatrists often see runners due to the amount of repetitive strain and force placed on your body when running.
If you’ve ever seen a cyclist on the roads you may notice that they have cycling shoes. I came to learn that most cyclists use clipless pedals to provide more efficient power transfer from the legs to the cranks. The problem with this is that the fit and design of these shoes can cause problems in the form of numbness and burning during longer rides. Pedals tend to attach under the ball of the foot and this can result in more pressure on this area. Now, lucky I know a good Podiatrist as it’s extremely beneficial for cyclists to have a pair of cycling orthotics to help redistribute this pressure away from the forefoot and allow you to ride like pain free.
4. Have fun! Listen to your body!
Remember this is all for fun. It’s not much fun being injured so listen to your legs and your feet. If they’re sore you can always train for swimming instead to reduce the impact and rest the feet for a few days. If there’s anything that you’re concerned about or believe may be something more serious, see a health practitioner sooner rather than later. A Podiatrist is a great place to start!
Train safe, guys and enjoy that amazing feeling of finishing a race!!