Injury prevention for triathlons

Peter Bryan Triathlon coach and lifeguard More by this author
Triathlons are intensive challenge events that test your fitness across three disciplines. Make sure you stay triathlon fit by following coach Peter Bryan’s injury prevention advice.

Injury can prevent you from completing your triathlon and can have more serious implications for your wellbeing, so preventing injury is an essential part of training.

If you aren’t used to competitive events or intensive exercise it’s wise to first check with your doctor to ensure there are no underlying health issues preventing you from participating.

Warm up and cool down
If you’ve got the all clear from your doctor, the next thing to remember is to start every training session with a warm up to prepare your body for the activity ahead.

For swimming and cycling (low-impact activities) this could be as simple as completing a gentle swim and cycle before starting your session. A good warm up is all the more important for the run (impact activity). Allow yourself 15 minutes to warm up with three five-minute sessions moving from a gentle walk to a jog and then slowing down to a mid-paced walk.

After your training session it’s important you cool down with a similar routine, allowing your heart rate to lower while keeping your blood flowing. This will help eliminate lactic acid and prevent muscle cramps.

Stretching is extremely important at the end of every session to prevent cramp and keep your muscles supple. Start with a gentle static stretch and build the time of holding that stretch. Don’t bounce because you could pull a muscle or damage the tendons. 

Include strength training in your routine
Strength training is important to keep the bones, tendons and joints strong and prevent injury. Try to fit in two sessions of strength training per week and leave at least one day between the strength sessions to recover.

Always listen to your body. It’s better to miss a session and continue next week, rather than push and become injured or ill and not be able to train at all.

Be prepared for the elements
Being prepared for the elements isn’t restricted to your event day. Triathlon training requires you to prepare by running, cycling and swimming outdoors over a prolonged time period. In every training session you should dress appropriately for the conditions, always take plenty of water with you and stop your session if you feel like you might be over-heating or conditions are too poor.

It is advisable that you swim in the open water before taking part in an open water triathlon. Open water swimming is very different from swimming in a clear, clean swimming pool. The area of water is much larger, the water can often be dark and cold and you will not be able to touch the bottom to stand. Because of the cold, wearing wetsuits is more often than not required in British waters, but it can feel very restricting when wearing a wet suit for the first time.

Finding a safe place to swim in the open is very important. There are a number of safe open water facilities around the country and these can be found at

Monday 11 April 2016

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