Triathlon training: Tips to avoiding injury

Scott Gormley Physiotherapist
Friday 19 June 2015
Whether you’re taking on your first event, or want to avoid the mistakes of former endeavors, injury prevention is an important part of triathlon training.

When an injury takes hold prior to or during the event, it prevents us realising our full potential and puts all of our hard work to waste. But there are some simple tips, from Nuffield Health physiotherapist Scott Gormley, that can help you avoid injury:

1. Be realistic when choosing your event

Scott, who is a regular triathlete, says it’s essential to pick the right level of triathlon to match your level of fitness. 
The triathlon is a very varied competition starting from the sprint triathlon (where you swim  400m, cycle 10km and run 2.5km), all the way to an Ironman triathlon (where you swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles and run 26.2 miles). 

Try the sprint for your first event and take yourself up the ranks to get your body used to the trials of the event and ensure you don’t push it too far.

2. Follow the ‘10 percent rule’

Once you have selected the right level of triathlon, sign up to one that is at least six to eight weeks away, Scott advises. 

“Even people who regularly compete in triathlons should aim to give themselves that amount of time to train as it will allow their bodies to adapt and build strength gradually,” he says. 

Scott advises following the 10 percent rule: Increase the distance or time you are exercising for by 10 percent every week. The gradual speed of training means you won’t over stretch your body, which is a fast track to injury.

3. Planning is motivational

People are more likely to stick to a training plan if they write it down, says Scott. It acts as a written contract to yourself and an easy reference guide, so get your jotter out and start planning!

4. Stick to your routine on the day

“You’d be amazed by how many people I see who have been following a sensible, gradual training plan and then change everything on the day,” Scott says. 

“Everyone is individual and what works for one person might not work for the next, but training lets you see what works for you. If it’s been working for you in training, it should work for you on the day.”

This includes sticking to the same diet, hydration and warm up that you’ve built up to in your training. 

5. Drink lots of water

One of the most common health concerns during competitive events is dehydration. Your body will be working hard and producing lots of sweat to keep you cool, even when you are swimming. Dehydration is a serious threat to your health and your performance, leading to a loss of strength and dizziness.  

Make sure you drink enough water both in your training and on the day. Attach a bottle holder to your bike to ensure you always have water available to drink.

6. Wear Lycra

Another painful problem during triathlons is chaffing. Lycra is not only light and non-absorbant, it will also help reduce the amount of chaffing you suffer on the day. 

As with your training regime, make sure you wear kit that you have worn in, especially your running shoes. Blisters and chafes may be minor injuries, but in the worst cases they can prevent you completing your event and cause long-lasting sores.

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