My story of training over the past few years has involved me limping from one ailment to the next, with the odd period of healthy training in between.
I do everything humanly possible not to get injured: Pilates once a week, foam rolling and physio exercises EVERY SINGLE DAY, activation exercises before a workout and stretching afterwards. I have a coach who’s careful and I follow what she tells me. And still I get injured.
I had assumed triathlon gave athletes the edge in that we are always, by definition, cross-training. Three sports; three different sets of muscles. Right? Apparently this isn’t so. In a New York Times article (Nov. 24, 2009), the author Sean D. Hamill mentions a study done in Australia by Dr. Joshua Burns. After evaluating 131 triathletes in Sydney, he concluded that triathletes have one of the highest rates of injury in any sport—probably because we’re all crazy and push too hard.
Overtraining is the most common culprit. We get greedy. If ten hours a week of training is good, twelve will be better.
Or, we decide to do too much too soon—whether that means adding too much distance before our bodies are ready for it, or pushing too hard.
Pushing too hard is at the root of most of my injuries. We all have an inner regulator—or at least, a tri friend assures me that I have one, even if I tend to ignore it. And, to be fair, it’s hard to listen to that interior voice that tells you to slow down and stay slow, it’s okay if someone has just passed you on the bike or on the running path. BUT IT’S NOT OKAY. The regulator runs directly counter to the type A personality so many triathletes have. We’re competitive by nature. There is ego involved.
A writer friend who also trains confided that when a stranger passes her on her online cycling program, she is hard-wired to catch him or her. Regardless of what it costs her. Is it worth it? Of course not. But I’m exactly the same way.
However, I am so fed up with being injured I’ve decided to change my ways.
The regulator is going to be the only voice I listen to from now on. Ego is being sidelined. I’m saying this out loud in the hope that someone will hold me accountable here.
Also, I have made my peace with aqua jogging. It will be part of my training program from now until race day.
For those of you who think aqua jogging is only for old ladies, have a look at this article.
For those of you who think aqua jogging is boring . . . well, you’re right. It is. But there are ways to fight the boredom. Do it with a friend. Bring music. There are MP3 systems that are completely waterproof and will save you from wanting to drown yourself in the dive tank after an hour or more of THE MOST BORING ACTIVITY KNOWN TO MAN (besides curling).
One final thought. I came across an interesting notion in a completely different context (I love it when ideas cross-pollinate). In Cal Newport’s book, Deep Work, he talks about science writer Winifred Gallagher who discovered that the level of happiness in our lives is directly related to what we decide to focus on.
When I’m injured, I tend to focus on the injury. I start counting the months to race day and obsessing over whether I’ll be ready or not. My injuries have rarely been major, but they always feel major at the time. My physio says, “Take a week off running,” and I hear, “You will never run again.”
But the beauty of triathlon training is that if one sport isn’t working, you still have two others. Why not focus on the ones that are going well, rather than bemoaning the one that isn’t?
Gotta love that pace. Is she sleeping? Is she even moving?