If you’re a triathlete with a running injury or are worried about a niggle, a few simple principles can reduce injuries and recovery time.
Running injuries are part of almost every triathlete’s career in the sport. Physically and sometimes mentally debilitating, getting over them efficiently is key to getting back to training and racing. The good news is that a common-sense approach, listening to your body and seeking advice when you need it can arm you to take on virtually any injury challenge.
Doing Nothing Doesn’t Work
The first thing to remember is that when it comes to running injuries doing nothing doesn’t usually work. Many people’s response to an injury is to stop running completely and hope the problem goes away on its own. While this occasionally works, without treating the cause of an injury, the injury is likely to return once you get back to running.
This definitely doesn’t mean you should run through injury! Rather, that it’s important to actively seek solutions as soon as you can – it could save you months of potentially needless inactivity that may not even fix your issues.
Quick Fixes Might Not Cut It
We all want to cure our injuries instantly, so we seek quick fixes. Things like self-massage, ice therapy, compression socks and new running shoes can all help, but they’re not always enough on their own. Beware going down a rabbit hole of Google searches for products that promise instant results – if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
Call In The Experts
If your symptoms aren’t gone in a week you should see a sports injury specialist who can diagnose, treat you, and give you a set of rehabilitation exercises. Seek a specialist who’s experienced in dealing with runners, even if it means travelling further.
Ask plenty of questions and make sure you fully understand all the exercises you’re prescribed – not just how to do them correctly, but why they’re likely to help, too. Don’t expect someone to wave a magic wand, though.
Commit To The Programme
Once you’ve visited a physiotherapist or other sports injury professional, you need to invest in your rehab programme, rather than expecting a miracle cure. The responsibility is on you here – stick to the routine with vigilance, listen to your body and avoid the trap of doing more than you’ve been told to, something hardwired into many triathletes!
Rehab exercises can be boring, but if you’re not running, you should commit to them with all the zeal you would your normal running training sessions.
Get Back To Running Slowly
When things improve a little, or under guidance from your injury professional, you can make a gradual comeback. Any return to training after an injury you should do it gradually so that your body has time to adapt.
Once the worst of your symptoms have subsided try a short and slow run – say 10 minutes. If you get through it unscathed try another short run two days later. Keep up this regime of running with at least 48 hours in between, gradually increasing the duration, but only by around five to 10 minutes per week.
Be Mindful Of Mindset When Returning To Running
Sometimes, returning after an injury can feel like a mind game where instead of running freely, you’re constantly worrying about the injury.
Firstly, don’t expect to be totally symptom-free during all your runs. Don’t be too frightened by the odd ache or pain; injury sites often become sensitised over time, so the injury feels worse than it actually is.
The important thing is to note whether your symptoms are getting gradually worse or gradually better – you’re rarely 100% injured or 100% cured, just somewhere in-between! Try grading your symptoms out of 10 after each run so you can fine-tune your training accordingly and feedback to your physio.
Don’t Be Hard On Yourself
Whether the injury was your ‘fault’ or not doesn’t matter, so don’t beat yourself up about it. By being proactive with treatment, taking recovery seriously and returning to running sensibly, you’ll give yourself the best chance of getting back to your best.