Top Three Ways to Protect Yourself While Training for a Triathlon
“My goal is to run and train for a triathlon this year”… sound familiar? This can be a very invigorating and motivating goal to attain. However, most people end up training too hard while not listening to their bodies and in the process get stress fractures, sprains, and strains. Here is a list of my top three ways to prevent stress fractures, sprains, and strains throughout the body during certain types of high impact exercise.
#1 Get Some Good Running Shoes and Avoid Running on Hard Surfaces
Get some shoes that save your joints and allow you to run non-stop and pain free. I am 6’3 220lbs and have had two knee surgeries. I finally found some shoes, the Hoka Bondi running shoes that have allowed me to continue running full Ironman’s and more without feeling too much pounding on the joints. Another way to avoid stress fractures is to avoid hard surfaces like concrete or asphalt. Choose dirt trails, sand, or grass to run on in order to save your joints for the rest of your life.
#2 Try Adding Rowing to Your Training Schedule
High-Impact exercises such as running have been shown to actually increase bone density over time. However, the continuous day after day impact and jarring on the bones, joints, and ligaments can gradually weaken the bones and cause harmful damage over time. Just like anything else throughout your body, the bones need a reasonable amount of time to respond and aggressive doses of stress and impact cannot necessarily be managed effectively ultimately leading to an injury. Instead of just running every day, monitor your workouts and try to alternate day to day while participating in low-impact exercises like rowing or cycling every other day to compliment your running. Not only will this prevent stress fractures and other injuries due to high impact, it may help to promote stronger supportive running muscles throughout the body. There really aren’t any better exercises than the low-impact, calorie-burning, workouts that indoor rowing classes provide.
#3 Avoid Overuse and Overtraining in Order to Maintain a Healthy Body Free of Stress Fractures
While rowing in college at UC Berkeley and then on the US National Team it seemed like the logic behind training was ‘training more and training more often is always better.’ In 1998, when it was my freshman year at Cal, it was all about how many miles could we row each day. Our goal was at least 16 miles a day on the water or on the rowing machine. After my 1st year in college it seemed to get more and more involved until I found myself training seven days a week and rowing three times a day with little to zero time to rest. This training led to many athletes suffering from stress fractures and other complications and sickness. Overuse and overtraining is considered to be one of the major causes of stress fractures, sprains, and strains. Running, rowing, or any other sport while training too many hard days without enough time to recover can lead to an incredible amount of stress throughout the body. Even a single workout or goal/practice can have a detrimental effect on the body and can lead to a stress fracture. These injuries also are attributed to muscle imbalances throughout the body. That is why it is so important to cross train and look at different exercises like yoga, weight lifting, indoor rowing, or cycling in order to create a balance between major muscle groups in the body.
*Set Realistic Training Goals and Keep a Logbook to Keep Yourself Motivated Throughout the Year
In starting an exercise program try to be realistic and conservative in order to avoid serious injury. Outline a training guideline based on your own past experiences and plan appropriately. General guidelines call for three workouts spread out during the week for 30-45 minutes each in duration. As your fitness gets better after a month or two increase the amount of time you work out and also the frequency. Use the F.I.T.T.”E.” Principal in order to get in better shape at a faster pace. How (F.) Frequent are you working out per week? How (I) Intense are your workouts? How Much (T) Time are you spending during your workouts? What (T) Type of workouts are you doing? I actually personally added the ‘E’ to the equation because you are what you eat! You must think about what are you (E) Eating to make sure you get the proper amount of fruits, vegetables, and berries in your system.
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