This is an extract from an email sent out to one group of our athletes from their coach in early spring time as training load increases for the European race season and the risks of injury can increase:
We are all training harder than ever, more than ever,and smarter than ever and the effect is starting to show. However, as you start to push yourselves further in to a state that we all strive for which is called “over-reaching” in which the best adaptation to training happens you also need to start to think more about self care.
I will say this;
“Getting Injured is not just bad luck. It comes from a chain of events leading up to the injury that can be avoided in most cases.”
So, how do we help avoid these setbacks an allow us to get great consistency in our training over weeks, months and even years. This consistency is the key to unlocking your maximum potential rather than 2 steps forward and 1 back all of the time.
- Massage – this can be in the form of sports massage for an hour approx every week or two (something I would advise strongly) and/or self massage in the form of rollering with foam roller and tennis ball (something I think should be done every 1 to 2 days but for only a short period of maybe 10 to 15 mins)
- Stretching and Mobility – The jury is out officially on stretching but i find it works for me, especially my hamstrings. Mobility exercises are anything that involves good range of motion and opens the joints and dynamically stretched the muscles. This can really help recovery as it normally aids circulation. Simply getting out of the office chair and moving around can also help things stiffening up…
- Sleep – This is the number 1 recovery aid and without quality sleep things unravel very quickly. Work our how much sleep you need and what bed time makes you feel best. This may be very early but then you are up nice and early and on with your day. The amount of sleep you need is down to the individual. Some people can function well off 6 hours but the majority of us need 8-9 hours when training hard.
- Rest – As opposed to sleep, try to find an hour here and there to get off your feet and relax. It is very hard, I know, but a bit of music on while I write some training plans with a cup of tea and my feet up goes along way to aid recovery. 15 mins in a dark room with your eyes shut can really help lower your cortisol levels even if you don’t sleep.
- Nutrition – Eating well is also key to your bodies ability to repair well. Lots of quality protein, fresh fruit and veg (more veg than fruit if you can), plenty of carbs around training sessions and ensuring at least 20g of protein and 60g of carbohydrate immediately post training session (all sessions) is important.
- Physio etc. – If you get injured, who will you see? This is something you build up over time but having a good team of people you can use at short notice is key if an injury occurs. Over the years I have got to know a great Chiropractor who I see every 2 months even if I am ok for an MOT (prevention is better than cure), a great Physio along with several options for massage and other therapies. All of these things cost money, but the one thing I see all of the time is that regular use of these people over time saves money as once you get injured the cost of treatment and the time off work to get to appointments etc soon mounts up.
- Warm ups and Cool downs – I very often see athletes start a swim set doing the first 100m of their warm up faster than they swim during the main part of their swim set, or starting a long run at the same pace they hold throughout the session. Ease in to your session at the very least and at best a very thorough 10-15 min light warm up is optimal including some dynamic stretches of all major muscle groups. After the session, think about the cool down as the first steps to being in great shape for your next session. Perform the cool down very easily with the overall effect being that you are trying to slowly lower your heart rate back down to below training levels while keeping blood circulating to all your muscles allowing time for waste products to be removed from the body. You will feel much better at the start of the next session. We often see very competitive athletes avoid the cool down and warm up as it will impact how good their workout looks on Strava, Training Peaks etc….. If this is you then do the warm up and cool down as separate timed sessions and then your online friends will still think you are a hero in the main set! You could just take the attitude that if it looks slower on the internet then you will surprise people come race day!
Within the team at Total Tri Training we all have a wealth of knowledge on this through our own experiences so if you need any advice or help on this do ask questions – it is what we are here for!