Taking Care of a Triathlete’s Body- Part 1. Self Maintenance

Injuries are something all athletes have to deal with. Throughout my athletic career I have been faced with various injuries that at the time I felt were unlucky or unfortunate. In looking back at these injuries, most were preventable. Before I began endurance sports I was inflexible and had some huge muscle imbalances. This is a recipe for overuse injuries in a sport like tennis. It is no wonder that with extremely tight calf muscles and very weak quad muscles that I developed knee problems that I have dealt with until very recently.

During my freshman year in 2010 I shared a college dorm with Matt Johnsen, a very talented, All-American cross country runner. Seeing the work he put into his body to allow him to perform well was something that I noticed and admired but neglected at the time. When I began running in 2012 I knew I would have to attack my knee and foot issues head on. Taking a leaf from Matty’s book I began stretching and self massaging every day. The results were immediate, the muscles in my legs that had been tight for as long as I could remember finally allowed me some flexibility, and for the first time I was able to touch my toes. I am certain that without taking care of my body as I began endurance sports I wouldn’t have been able to deal with the rigors I was placing on my body.

Stretching and self massage is an area of sports science that continues to receive a great deal of attention. After reading a study that suggested stretching was not necessary as long as you self massaged, I gave it a try. The results were horrible. A week or two after ditching my stretching routine I felt my legs tightening back up and a soreness which I was not used to crept back into my muscles. Since then I have done my best to stretch and massage every day. The only lapse in this routine has come recently. About a month ago I was so pressed for time with work, school and training that I neglected to stretch and massage for a little over a week. The results are some plantar fasciitis I have been dealing with in the weeks since. Thankfully by attacking it head on with stretching, icing and massage, I have been able to keep it somewhat under control and slowly get rid of it.

My personal results (n=1) have shown that in order to keep my body happy I have to dedicate time and take care of it. Although I know this works for me, I know people that can handle not stretching and massaging at all. That is great, but it is not for everyone. I would advise finding what works for you and sticking with it. Some people might look at my routine and think “wow he spends way too much time on that” but it is because I know I have to, and there is no point in training if I am not going to be healthy come race day.

Here is a snapshot of what my daily maintenance entails.

Stretching routine- ~20minutes

Foam roll legs ~10minutes

Foam Roller

                   This is how I roll

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Massage stick legs ~10minutes

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Baseball and golf ball deep tissue and foot ~5minutes

balls

Total= 45minutes well spent.

Triathlon Training- Find some training mates or go solo?

The question of training alone or in a group is something I never really considered until recently. Before March this year 99.9% of my training for triathlon had been alone. I could count on one hand the amount of hard rides I had done with other people and on one finger the amount of hard runs and swims I had done. In March all that training alone finally caught up with me.

With my decision to take my elite card and race as a professional this year, I knew I had to swim faster. The only way to do that was to actually start swimming and start swimming hard. It quickly became apparent that I was not going to be able to swim hard six times a week by myself, and after one particularly hard swim I’d had enough. Sitting in the locker room at the pool I pulled out my phone and began texting and messaging anyone and everyone I could think of to train with.

Since then I have been doing some riding with a very talented and hardworking cyclist Brent Goetz. There have been some huge benefits to training with Brent. Not only has he shown me some of the better roads to ride around in the Toledo area and pushed me to work hard when I need to, he has also been there for me to pick his brains about cycling etiquette, race tactics, power numbers and everything in between.

Along with riding with Brent I have also been swimming with Team Toledo Triathlon Club every Friday. For me, swimming is the easiest discipline to slack off so having a group of people to push me every lap is invaluable. By swimming with a group once a week, my individual swims have also improved. If I can hold a certain time for a set of 100yards with a group pushing me, I believe I should be able to hold the same time when swimming by myself. For this reason, although I’d like to train with others more often, I am always pushed to do better.

While there are positives in training with a group, there can also be negatives. It is simple for an easy day on the bike to turn into something much harder if you choose to race your training mates to every city limit sign. It takes discipline to hang back on the easy days, but it is the same discipline needed to reel it in if you are feeling extraordinarily good at the start of a bike leg. Training with others is just that…training. When race day rolls around, the smarter athlete is often also the most well prepared athlete. Sometimes you need to pick your battles.

As a side note, my training is coming along very well. I am in the process of testing my power on the bike and have seen some huge improvements from late September. My wattage in a one minute test has improved by 30% and my wattage in a five minute test has improved by 15%. I was chatting with Brian yesterday and joked that it’s amazing how much actually riding your bike and riding it hard pays off. Speaking with others, I am feeling confident that my fitness is where it needs to be in order to be successful this year and I’m getting pumped to kick off my pro career at Memphis in May.

I am playing my season as it comes and will post my schedule online as I become more certain of it. If you are racing or spectating any of the same events feel free to come say g’day! Until then- train hard, train smart and take care of your body.

Why Do Triathletes Post Their Workouts Online (Part II)

A few weeks ago I did a post addressing the topic of why triathletes like to post their workouts online, while addressing the pros and cons of each. This topic sparked a lot of interest and it’s easy to see why. There are a wide spectrum of thoughts on the topic. Some people love it and some people do not. I asked this question through a poll on my post and after a few weeks and a lot of response, here are the results.

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I am sure my thoughts on the matter have become quite obvious, particularly if you follow me on twitter. However, I prefer to let the results of the poll speak for themselves. There are very few people that like hearing about your workout results online. There are even fewer people that love hearing about them. I would like to say that I can understand where everyone is coming from on the matter. Posting workouts shows how hard you are working. It also shows how much you have improved and keeps you honest as you move towards a goal. Having said that, it is also easy to see the other side of the coin. It is annoying to see a newsfeed clogged with people telling you how fast they did their 100*100s on at the pool or what pace they averaged for their 3 hour long run. Your improvements in endurance sport come from chronic training, not a single successful workout. It isn’t pretty, but then again, it wouldn’t be as attractive if it was.

As the winter draws to a close and the sun finally begins to come out in Ohio I am getting excited to attack the 2014 season. As it stands, I am looking to kick my summer off at the Olympic distance Memphis in May on May 18. Although you may not have been hearing about all my workouts online, rest assured, I have been out there grinding away. This in itself gives me confidence that when I cross that finish line and the results are official I will have something impressive to share with you all.

Until then, train hard and stay safe.