With the triathlon season in full swing, many of you will be putting down some of the most intense training of the year in pursuit of personal bests, age group victories, qualifications and other goals. The push for performance is an admirable pursuit, but it often leads you teetering on the edge of what’s possible. When you find yourself on this edge, you may end up tipping over it and landing yourself with a midseason injury.
The tricky part of a midseason injury is that they often occur near the point an important race (or races). As such, athletes push to try and find ways back into form more quickly than they might have had the injury occurred in the offseason or early in the year. In my 12 years of racing, I’ve had my fair share of bike crashes, running crashes (seriously), rolled ankles, overuse injuries and illnesses. However, I have always managed to put myself back together in a timely manner so that I can return to normal training.
Below you will find some tips on getting yourself back in the game as quickly as possible:
- Do not go into overcompensation mode. As triathletes, it can be easy to justify an excessive increase in training one or two of the disciplines if the other is put on hold. Often times, this is seen with running injuries. Athletes immediately move into heavier cycling and swimming loads because running is no longer an option. I believe, at least initially, that this is a mistake. When you are in the acute phase of an injury, I would hold steady with the training you are currently doing, or better yet, reduce the overall load. Use the extra time you have freed up to rest and rehabilitate instead of trying to train more.
- Train under your tolerable stress level. This is a tip that I have learned from Endurance Corner’s Dr. Jeff Shilt (he has helped many athletes with injuries). Injury requires rest and rehab, but eventually there is a return to running, cycling or swimming (or all three) and as you do so, you need to establish a training stress level that is tolerable and repeatable. More often than not, I see athletes try and rush back into normal training as their symptoms subside. This often leads to one of the worst scenarios: chronic injury.
- Continue rehabilitation beyond the cessation of symptoms. Any time a doctor has prescribed antibiotics to me they always tell me to keep taking the medicine until it is finished, as opposed to when I start to feel better. The same can be said when your injuries begin to heal. As pain and discomfort subsides, don’t discontinue all of the rehab and prehab routines you have developed. By doing all the right things when you are healthy, you can avoid the pitfalls of injury because of neglect.
Injuries are never fun, but they are not the end of the world. By applying due diligence to your rehab, like you do with your training, you will be back to racing in no time.