As triathletes we live on the edge. We push the boundaries trying to eek the life out of every last second of the day. However the flip side of this achievement based existence is that it does place us at a greater risk of injury and some health issues. So while some risks go up (but others like heart disease go down) there are things we can do to reduce the risks.
- If you are new to exercise, especially if you are over 40, then you should start with a medical check-up just to make sure there are no underlying issues to consider. A simple blood test can help establish baseline data that we can compare against in the future.
- If you are feeling unwell give training a miss. Mild intensity training can boost immune function but as soon as we go long or hard the immune system can be impaired leaving you more vulnerable to a minor tickle turning into a major issue.
- If you have symptoms that are not going away such as shortness of breath, have it looked at. Exercise induced asthma in most cases can be easily fixed
- Likewise any change in how your body is functioning (headaches, bowel movements, nerve issues) is worth exploring with your doctor
- If sleep or stress levels are becoming a factor then it is also important to consider what impact it may have. There is only so much no doze and coffee you can consume to get you through a day! Take some time off to recover and refresh
- Invest into technique. Most injuries have a technique related element to them
- If you have a history of injury it is worthwhile chatting to a physio about a musculoskeletal screen to help identify potential risk areas (tightness, weaknesses, imbalances). Then the real challenge starts- doing the exercises they prescribe!
- If you are over 40 and about to start some endurance work it is worthwhile investing into a strength program ideally set and initially overseen by a by a professional to make sure you are doing the exercises correctly. Glute and core strength is all the rage at the moment but you can’t go past squats and deadlifts but they do take some time to perfect.
- If you start any training make sure you listen to your body. Pain is a sign that something is not quite right and it is always best to quit while you are ahead so you can live to fight another day.
- If it is your first time out running with a group. Run the first few minutes then stop, look back and wait for the next group to come through- this is where you need to live to start with. Once you have a few weeks of training in you and you are pulling up fine the next day, you can look to build things. Even then it is still important to leave a little bit in the tank- don’t go all out until your body is ready. This is where checking the ego is crucial.
- Diet can play a role for both the positive and negative. If your diet restricts food groups (especially meat) then it is worthwhile having a blood test (iron) to make sure there are no limiters on performance. Likewise when you lift training loads it is important to consider carbohydrate, protein and fluid intakes. I have seen too many people underdoing the carbohydrate intake and struggling to train effectively. If you are going down the low carb pathways then it is advised that you work with a sports dietician to make sure you are making the most of your opportunity.
- Its warming up so make sure you drink enough during the day. Your urine should be clear by mid- morning and then you aim to simply top up during the day. And if you are training in the heat make sure that you factor in the impact hotter temperatures can have on your paces and power numbers
- Build recovery into your training, plan easy days, easy weeks or easier sessions. Use this time to recover both the body and the mind. While there are many tools such as HRV or blood oxygenation that are becoming the latest have to recovery measure, the reality is it will be a combination of factors that create fatigue so your aim is to develop your own tool that works for you.
- Over the past few weeks I have had plenty of sessions where I wasn’t keen to train only to go out and produce a great result. For me the trial mile is always a good KPI for how I am feeling. Just get through the warm up first and then make some decisions about the training.
As we build to Moana training intensity will be increasing so make sure you are smart and listen to your body and what it is trying to tell you. Pain is your brain trying to tell you to stop as you are too close to the edge and the risk of damage is going up. Your challenge is to work out if it is hurt pain or harm, pain. Hurt pain we can live with harm pain is the one to avoid.
Get it right and the results will come we often just have to be patient.