For some of you the season has already started and it will probably go all the way to October, November or even December if you’re doing a late Ironman.
The biggest concern that all athletes have is always to stay healthy so that they can get to the starting line of every race injury-free. The majority of the injuries I see in athletes have been caused by running, usually from inappropriate volume, inappropriate intensity, poor mechanics, wrong shoe choice and/or excessive pounding from running on concrete or pavement. This article will focus on injury prevention.
In this post I’ll address inappropriate volume of exercise since I see this as the biggest problem (with the easiest solution) among most triathletes. So before you go on your next long run, please read below to understand what type of athlete you are and to better judge your volume. This can all help injury prevention, while maximizing your recovery.
Tips for injury prevention
Body Type – If you’re a heavy, tall or very muscular athlete, the impact your body will have when touching the ground is much greater than the impact a Kenyan runner that weighs 90lbs will have, for example! The eccentric load on your quads caused by the landing, added to the load on your joints, is much greater for heavier athletes. This load will cause more damage to the body, impairing recovery time. This usually results in losing training consistency as the athlete is too sore to train the next day. So basically the heavier and/or more muscular you are, the less volume you can run.
Experience / Efficiency – If you have a running background, you have trained your body with the skills and motor patterns of running, so that you can move more efficiently than a beginner athlete that has just started running. If you are a beginner athlete, you have not mastered the skills of running yet and long runs are not recommended. You should instead work on frequency and improving efficiency rather than focusing on long runs for injury prevention.
Age – As we get older, we start to lose muscle mass, our joints are not as “lubricated” as before and we also lose our motor skills (the ability of moving efficiently). The reduction of testosterone and human growth hormone production (important hormones for muscle repair), that happens with aging will also compromise the recovery. The older we get, the less we should focus on volume and instead focus our training on strength, mobility, elasticity and motor skills development. Once again, frequency of training is more effective than quantity as you age.
Injuries – Your injury history should be respected and used as an “alert” to you, as it is a sign from your body that you have, for some reason, overused or improperly used your muscles and/or joints. If you know that increasing your mileage to a certain level has left you injured in the past, then this is a good indication that your body doesn’t “appreciate” the extra miles. So be smart and don’t make the same mistake again. If you see yourself with one or more of the characteristics listed above, be careful when adding the extra time on your long run. Endurance gain in relation to time spent running is not a linear curve so if you add 10% to your total running time, it does not mean that you’re gaining 10% of endurance. Instead you are increasing your chances of getting injured by way more than 10%.
Injury prevention is key to help you stay healthy, train consistently and race faster!