6 top tips for better injury prevention
As triathletes we all live in fear of them –we all are a nightmare when we have one – but do we do enough to avoid them…. I am of course talking about injuries
When I take on new members to my squad – I make them sign up to the following six simple injury minimisation principles (as the only thing worse than being injured is having to coach an injured athlete!)
1) Warming up/cooling down is part of each session – this goes for all disciplines and applies no matter how time crunched you are (I actually advocate compressing main set if do not have full time for entire session) – as simply blasting straight into your 5km race pace intervals on cold muscles will only result in disaster
2) Make time for foam rolling/stretching routine rather than see it as another session – Athletes are far better off setting aside 10-15 mins each night to stretch/foam roll the key muscles (Glutes, hamstrings, calves, quads, hip flexors etc) whilst watching TV or chatting to your partner – than having a specific (and often easily skipped) twice weekly hour long gym session.
3) Eat well – Nutrition is key not only for fuel (carbs) but for the body to repair (protein). There is no point signing up to an IRONMAN or 70.3 plan – if you are not going to match your healthy lifestyle with a healthy diet. Don’t panic this does not mean you will never eat chips again (trust me I would not be in this game still if that were the case) – it simply means making more of the right food choices during the day and week … think more green than brown!
4) Bendy is trendy (and useful) – this is more for the senior athletes over 40 years. I find that most of the people coming from a unisport background have AWFUL flexibility. For these guys/gals – I recommend that on a recovery day – they sign up to some yoga/pilates classes (or buy a DIY DVD) and the positive impact on their performance is quite dramatic
5) Rest! – With few exceptions – when I review the previous typical training routines of new squad member – the one thing that is always missing is rest days or recovery weeks. You can only push the body so much until it needs time for muscles to rebuild/consolidate the gains. Give it this time – you will soon reap the benefits. Having a clear plan or Coach will help you monitor this more effectively but if self coaching – do not underestimate the importance of this fifth discipline!
6) Monitor/listen to your body – Linked to point 5 above – I have the squad keep an eye on certain metrics (mood, fatigue levels, resting HR etc) with an agreement that if we see certain flags e.g. a normally highly motivated athlete reporting bad mood for 3 days in a row or his resting HR is +5-10 beats more than avg out of the blue – we look at changing the plan for that week – might be a lighter session than planned – might be an additional rest day. We listen to the body or we end up injured or run down or both
None of the above six points should be news or revolutionary to any athlete and individually none of them are too complex/expensive to do. But the real trick is to integrate ALL of them into your next training block to have the most effective injury avoidance strategy you can.
Steven Moody has starred in the corporate rat race but found his greatest source of satisfaction came from his 15 years of endurance racing including numerous Ironman finishes (to date).
Realising this fact, Steven abandoned his cubicle and moved into full time coaching. Steven is now Ironman University, Triathlon Ireland and Training Peaks level 2 certified and in 2017, was awarded Triathlon Ireland Coach of the year.
Browse his pre-built training plans for Strength, 70.3 and IRONMAN or if you have queries on personal coaching/training plans you can contact him via firstname.lastname@example.org