Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Surprised? Triathletes Do Not Have Fewer Injuries Than Single Sport Athletes

What to wear when your has chores for you.
I've made it a little too large so you can really appreciate it.

I'll bet this athlete was dressed and out the door in a snap.

A recent piece in the NY Times quoted what we've known for years that when single sport athletes switch to triathlon, their overall training hours go up and that rather having a decrease in injuries thinking they're spreading their workouts over three sports requiring "different muscles," the injury rate actually increases.

Joe Friel, author of the Triathletes Training Bible teaches that the true benefit from training comes, not during the workout itself, but during the subsequent rest period. Upon recovery from the added stress, the musculoskeletal system is just a little stronger than it was before.

This is the time of year, with snow on the ground that we're allowed to dream. We examine past racing successes and failures and use them as a springboard to set up our next season. Hopefully this is accomplished with more than just an ounce of common sense. Not only is the absolute load your body sees important but the rate of change of this load is also crucial. As one example, I did a blog on stress fractures a while back and one of the take home messages is that we can all do a significant amount of training as long as the rate at which we increase the volume and intensity of this effort is such that we can handle it. And no, I don't mean "handle it" as simply being able to either fit it into an already packed schedule or that you're tough enough to get it done. This should be interpreted as being able to accept the increase in training load on top of what's currently be done and the total training increase isn't greater than, say 5%, maybe 10%, of the previous weeks efforts.

We all know that there are a few people, maybe the ones you train with, who seemingly don't need to follow the ease into the work out guidelines. A pair of women I swim with are like that. They have no idea of/need for warming up. While the rest of us complete a 1200 yard warm up set, they pop into the pool as the main set is being described, adjust their goggles, and push off the wall full tilt for the first 200. Of course I'm jealous. But my logbook is fed 1200 more yards more than theirs on a regular basis.

So as we dream about that podium spot at the local sprint tri in 2013, construct a sensible training plan that carefully increases the rate at which your knees/Achilles are called upon to run more hills or time trial bike efforts. And, most importantly, when that little twinge becomes full fledged pain, take some time off of that your efforts into a different part of needed to work on your transitions anyway.

If you can carefully mold and execute your training plan, you stand a good chance of staying away from people like me (doctors) and having a terrific season. Good luck!

I'm fond of asking athletes if they think they do a great job slipping their training in between meetings, car pools, before the sun (and family) get up every day.  If they see their training as invisible.  While it's probably not, at least making the attempt to keep other's schedules and feelings in mind make for a happier triathlon family.

Below is the second fun photo, my way of "camouflaging" my indoor trainer.  You can hardly see it behind the planter.  Right?

Note clever camouflage. Plants nearly blocking view of indoor trainer


  1. It took me too long to notice that poor man on the couch. It must be past my bedtime.

  2. Nice article about triathlon injuries. short but meaning full.

    triathlon training programs