Ironman Injury Prevention – 7 Tips

Finishing the 2008 Ironman Wisconsin Injury Free

Injury Free at the 2008 Ironman Wisconsin Finish Line

One of the most important aspects of training for any Ironman triathlon is slowly building up endurance for the long distances while staying free from injuries. When spending 15 to 20 hours per week swimming, biking and running over the course of six to nine months, it is important to take steps to avoid injuries which can become simple nuisances or serious hinderances to completing the training and the race. As I make the final preparations to travel to Zurich for the Ironman Switzerland and my Tri for Ned on July 12, I thought I would share a few thoughts about how I’ve worked to stay largely injury free.

1. A basic problem that many beginning runners have is blisters. Not being acustomed to new shoes and the pounding of the pavement can cause painful hot spots on your feet. To combat blisters, getting fitted with shoes that feel comfortable AND fit your running style is key. Instead of picking up shoes at the mall or at a large department store, it is best to go to a running or triathlon store where experienced staff can watch you run outside or on a treadmill and make recommendations about what shoes might be best for you. This might add a little cost, but it’ll be well worth the investment over the many miles of training. Also, be sure to get synthetic socks that fit well and don’t bunch up in your shoe. Finally, pick up some BodyGlide. It’s an anti-chafing balm to help combat blisters and hot spots. The proper application (it rubs on like a deodorant) can solve almost all blister issues before they start. Apply liberally before any workout. It is also helpful when preparing to sit on the bike for hours on end. You get the picture.

2. Stretching is key to preventing nagging soreness. By putting so much stress on your muscles over the months of training, I’ve found that it is easy to become less flexible. So, every morning when I wake up I make sure I do some basic stretching exercises to maintain flexibility. Stretching thoroughly before a training session is important, but stretching after may be just as key to helping muscles recover from the strain and stress.

3. Taking in protein following long workouts is also crucial to helping muscles recover. I like Boost high protein energy drinks. Consumed within 15 minutes after a long workout, they provide about 240 calories and help those sore legs get the nutrients they need to recover and get stronger.

4. Because of the pounding that your joints can take over the course of a long run or even bike ride, icing your sore spots – particularly knees or hips – can prevent inflamation and next-day soreness. After a long run, you can simply jump in a cold lake (while training for the 2005 Honolulu Marathon, my Team in Training group used to stand in the chilly water of Green Lake or Lake Washington for 10 minutes immediately following a long run), take an ice bath or wrap your legs with cold wraps. I’ve found that the Trio Hot and Cold wraps are very handy and can simply be kept in the freezer until you need them. You can pick them up at Target.

5. The proper application of a Band-Aid over the nipple will help prevent the bloody mistake that guys will not want to make twice. Don’t leave home without them on. I think the cheap plastic ones work the best because they stay on through rain and sweat. The pain of ripping them off after a workout is far better than causing yourself pain like these guys endured. This is not an uncommon sight at races, but it is one that makes me cringe. And, don’t wear a cotton shirt. That’s an invitation to unwanted chafing.

6. Wear sunscreen. You’re going to be outside for a long time, so remember to put on the sunscreen before you even get dressed for your workout. My favorite is Kinesys sport sunscreen, because it withstands to sweat of a workout. Coppertone Sport continuous spray is also good and is less expensive than Kinesys, though I’m not sure it has quite the staying power.

7. Finally, listen to your body. Over the many miles of Ironman training, your ability to tell the difference between soreness and the beginnings of a possible injury will become more finely tuned. If there is nagging pain in a joint or muscle, vary your workout schedule or take a day or two of rest. Swimming is obviously low impact and is a good way to keep working on one of the triathlon disciplines while giving your tired legs a break. If you are hurt, you won’t be able to stick to your training schedule. So, focus on staying healthy and then work on keeping up with the training.

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This entry was posted on Monday, July 6th, 2009 at 10:42 AM and is filed under Triathlons. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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