I was having fun in the first week of the new WTRL Zwift Duathlon series, slowly cranking up the run pace on the treadmill when, with just two minutes left to go, I felt a sharp pain in my left hamstring. Uh oh. Too much run intensity, too fast for these old legs. I immediately slowed way down and finished at a slow, limping jog. But this was just week one of six. How best to recover and prepare for next week without risking a strain turning into a full blown tear?
For all my years of running, my feet have held up pretty well. My hips and knees have had various maladies over the years but feet and ankles (especially after I gave up soccer and basketball) have never given me any major problems. Until recently.
A few months ago, I started feeling a hard, sometimes painful, but mostly annoying, spot on the ball of my foot. It didn’t bother me too much when wearing sneakers and excercising but I definitely felt it when I was barefoot. Without any padding, it felt like I was walking with a quarter under my foot.
Training for my first marathon is what finally sold me on the benefits of consistent foam rolling. Ramping up the mileage significantly was a challenge and my body was feeling it. My hamstrings, IT bands, calves, even the bottom of my feet were tight and sore and generally complaining about all the miles.
I’m not the most flexible person to start with and this training plan had me hobbled and walking like an elderly man after two weeks. My muscles were tight. If I was going to finish the plan and not miss any workouts something had to change. I didn’t have the cash for a professional massage each week, but I did have ten bucks for a foam roller.
I was going to ride the bike today, but never really felt motivated to actually get downstairs on the trainer. So I never did. And that’s okay. I don’t feel guilty. At least not that much. It’s the offseason. All of my big races are done. It’s time for a break, both mentally and physically.
Building in a relaxed or completely training-free period to break up long blocks of structured work is essential. What could go wrong if you don’t take a break? On the physical side, overtraining or injury. On the mental side: stress, irritability, and burnout.
I’m currently dealing with a hamstring strain. So much for trying to do more strength training! Tuesday’s HIIT session ended prematurely as I felt my right hamstring tighten up and then give off a disturbing series of cracks and pops as I tried to stretch it out.
Ice it? Heat it? Stretch it? Rest it? Roll it? What is the best approach to healing and rehab that will ensure you’re only out a few days or a few weeks and not a few months? It’s a common question to any injury.
Here are the best ways to treat and prevent 5 common runner injuries. Don’t neglect those aches and pains and definitely do no try to run through any nagging niggles or tweaks. Listen to your body. Heal it up and then get back to running or exercising at full strength.
Triathlon training is about balance. You need to prepare and train for 3 very different disciplines and there are only so many hours in the day. But it gets worse because to really succeed and give your best effort and avoid injuries there is a fourth discipline you need to consider: strength training.
Strength training is where I struggle most whether it’s in a training block for a triathlon or a marathon or something else. It just seems like it’s the first thing to fall off the plan when things get squeezed. This is doubly true during the season. I’ve found some success using HIIT sessions that combine cardio and weights during the off-season, but I still struggle to maintain a regular strength session within a training block.