Injury Prevention for Triathlon & Ironman Training

Team M:X member Mike James is a multiple Ironman, Double Ironman and Triple Ironman finisher who has competed and treated novice to elite athletes worldwide. Widely known as ‘The Endurance Physio’, he specialises in teaching athletes, coaches and therapists involved in endurance sports to optimise performance, reduce injury risk and maximise rehabilitation.

Introduction

The growth of triathlon over the last 20-40 years has been quite remarkable. Worldwide, on a seemingly daily basis, races and events continue to expand, training and technological information constantly allow athletes to learn more about the sport and athletes – new and old, of all abilities – hit the pools, lakes, roads and paths, determined to achieve the next race finish, personal best or goal.

In a sport laden with personal challenges and hurdles, the once almost mythical Ironman (IM) Distance remains the ultimate challenge for many. Whether winning world championships or merely crossing the line and collecting the fabled ‘M Dot’, the 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and 26.2 mile run race is the pinnacle of many athletes’ journeys.

The sheer nature and demands of the event (all triathlon events in fact!) contribute to a high incidence of injury. A 2013 study of 174 long-distance triathletes over a 26-week period found that overuse injury was the prevalent injury amongst iron-distance triathletes. The average prevalence of overuse problem was 56% at any time, with a substantial problem incidence of 20%. The most prevalent sites were the knee (25%), lower leg (23%) and lower back (23%). The acute injury incidence was 0.97 per 1000 hours of training, and 1.02 per 1000 hours of competition.

So, how can we prevent, or more accurately perhaps, reduce the risk of encountering such problems and maximising our chances of getting to the start line and performing to the best of our abilities? These are The Endurance Physio’s top tips:

Goal Setting

This should be the first thing any IM or budding IM does. Ask yourself, what do I want to achieve? Are you aiming to simply get through the 140.6 miles and cross the finish line? Are you aiming for a specific time and/or PB? Some people are primarily entering the race to raise money/awareness for a charity. Before any plans can be formulated, you must understand what it is you are planning for. Every aspect of the coming 4-12 months will be determined by your goals. Duration, intensity, frequency of training, location, climate and course profile of the race may all be driven by timescales and events to do with your goal.

Take home messages:

1) Train wisely – increase the load on the body gradually. Factor in enough recovery – this is where we improve! Quality trumps quantity every time.

2) Get strong and stay strong! It can help performance and possibly injury.

3) Plan everything – the 5 P’s (Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance!).

4) Be consistent, but flexible – anyone who achieved anything remarkable did it through consistency. Be the bamboo! Be committed and stick to your regime/plans. Always be prepared to bend a little if needed but get back on the plan as soon as possible.

And remember – whatever your goal, whatever your level, however many IM you have completed – enjoy it. It’s fun!

Hello

Meadows Marathon medals

We are delighted to announce our continued partnership with Meadows Marathon!

We had the pleasure of supporting Meadows Marathon 2020 last March, where we distributed the very first samples of Performance M:X Concentrate to runners. Meadows Marathon is a student-led event co-hosted by Edinburgh RAG and Edinburgh Napier Events Society, raising money for a number of charitable causes each year. This year, Edinburgh RAG is supporting Saheliya, Rainforest Trust UK and When You Wish Upon A Star, with runners able to raise money for their own chosen charities.

The event, which usually takes place at the Meadows in Edinburgh, consists of 5k, 10k, Half Marathon and Full Marathon races. This year, the event has gone virtual, meaning you can join in wherever you are! To make sure participants are fuelled and hydrated, we’ll be providing Performance M:X Concentrate in all Runner Packs. Runners will also receive a promo code to redeem an extra pouch of Performance M:X Concentrate with any order and we’ll donate 20% of their order value to this year’s partner charities. To top it off, this year’s top fundraiser will also win a M:X prize bundle!

Meadows Marathon 2021 takes place on 20th-21st March and you can sign up now at meadowsmarathon.org.uk and join the Facebook event here. Make sure to follow Meadows Marathon’s socials below to stay up to date and keep an eye out for our upcoming giveaway!

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This is a quite common question that I get asked year after year, and it’s actually a difficult one to answer. In fact it’s probably the epitome of the ‘it depends’ answer. The truth is that training over the festive period will look different for everyone based on their individual circumstances: work, family, race plans and other life commitments. Therefore, all you can do is make sure that you spend enough time giving appropriate consideration so that your plans are realistic.

 

Once upon a time, Christmas for me was actually a time to do more training: no work, a chance to build up credit for, and/or burn off the indulgence that lay ahead. I know this is the case for many, particularly those who may not have young children, and it can also be a tradition for some. Until becoming a dad, my Christmas Day pre-lunch run was something I looked forward to and it became a staple part of my Christmas Day itinerary, as did my Christmas Day pudding race, wherever I may have been based at the time. I used to love the peacefulness of a Christmas morning run. The streets were silent, and I found it very cathartic (although once upon a time they were jammed with youngsters riding new bikes, skateboards or kicking new footballs – but that’s a rant for a different blog!). For some, it’s a timely opportunity to back-off a little and recharge for the new year. A chance to take stock midway through winter training and review, revise or simply rest up for what lays ahead. For me, things have changed over the last 8 years.

It’s entirely about the kids these days and I wouldn’t change it for the world. Until they’re old enough to want to join me in creating a new family tradition of Christmas Day runs, I’ll enjoy factoring my training around them. 

So, hopefully you can see that my point is it’s very individual, and there really isn’t a right or wrong way to think about it. What are you training for? Do you have a race early in the year that needs you to train more over Christmas, for example? This unfortunately won’t be the case for many this year, and even those still wishfully training for Spring races may well find it a challenge to keep their training up. What I would suggest is that whatever the volume or frequency of your Christmas training plans, try to factor the other things in your life into the planning. Nothing becomes more stressful than worrying about getting your training in and also making sure you can do all the other things you have planned. So, a bit more time than usual, maybe thinking outside the box a little more than normal and finding novel ways, times and methods of training may help. The mistake I often see is people trying to juggle too much all at the same time, programming a heavy week’s training on the week that they have Christmas commitments. Maybe split up your usual training regime to factor this in, bring a recovery or lighter training week forward, or indeed, push it back if needed. But for others, maybe putting the feet up, enjoying an extra mince pie and making training a lower priority for a week or two is the solution. Remember to factor the New Year’s training into the plan.

You don’t want to start training like a lunatic in January to make up for a relaxing Christmas and then have problems in February or March.

Finally, my other consideration is for those who may train out of guilt. Guilt for the overindulgence that leads to us adding extra training to our sessions, adding extra intensity to our sessions, or possibly training when you didn’t plan on training. Sometimes the easiest way to control this is to control the indulgence. That’s not saying don’t have fun, but be honest with the reasons why you may alter your training and see if you can affect those.

Thanks for reading and have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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