1. Listen to your body I don't know how many times my body was giving me signs and I was getting little niggles, which I often ignored leading to full blown injuries. I'm not saying worry about every little tightness, but if something is causing you to run differently or doesn't work itself out after 15 min of running or cycling then don't ignore it, get a proper diagnosis from a professional and talk to your coach about what should be done.
2. Proper Fueling
It’s important to be well fueled (this includes carbs!) especially during and after intense workouts. I see this all the time. Is it a coincidence that most of the injuries I've had occurred when I've dropped weight too quickly?? NO! I see it all the time- muscles can't fully fire properly without proper fuel, especially for more intense intervals. Even if you are a good "fat burner" per say, if you want to go faster, your body needs carbs, your brain works on carbs and you will not only limit your performance but limit recovery as well without them. It's doesn't mean we are jamming down massive calories for a 45 min morning jog but for anything over 90 min you should be fueling. There are always exceptions but I can say that most females under fuel, which is why they seem to be more prone to things like stress fractures etc.
3. Adequate Warm up
Don't skip your warm up, especially when running intervals. If you are pressed for time and can't get your whole workout in, you are better off skipping the cool down rather than the warm up. This is especially critical if you are doing running intervals or some sort of fartlek workout. I've seen so many running injuries occur from people who hop straight onto the treadmill for their fast 30 sec intervals with zero warm up. Fartlek and faster running needs ALL the big muscles working and they take longer to warm up. The more training you are doing, the longer the warm up. I won't advise any running intervals without at least a 15 min warm up, unless it's straight off the bike, in which case the bike is the warm up. As a side note, for harder run sessions I often prefer my athletes to walk or hop on the bike for a cooldown, as this this is often safer than trying to force a slow run when fatigued.
4. Run Frequency
If you are a female and prone to injuries, I recommend running every other day and mixing it up with the treadmill. Now I say females just because their bones don't usually have the same strength as males, but this can apply to both. If you are prone to injuries we run every other day and keep lots of treadmill. You will recover better and give your bones a rest on the days off. I have a rule that if you are doing decent run mileage, keep at least 50% on a soft surface, so either track or treadmill. I use to give this rule to my massage clients all the time, then one year I broke the rule myself and ended up with a stress response in my sacrum. For the males or stronger females we go one day hard, one day easy and one day off running.
This is your best recovery aid on the market hands down. This is when your body repairs, this is when your natural Growth Hormone (GH) is at its best, which is critical for recovery. Pre midnight hours are your best bang for your buck- so 8 hrs from 9-5 is going to be way better quality than 8 hrs from 12-8. The more training you do, the more sleep you will often need. It's no coincidence that you will hear about a lot of the pros saying they need 9-10 hrs of sleep every night! Not all Age Groupers have that luxury which is why weekend naps or a little extra sleep in on the weekend will massively benefit your recovery and performance.
6. Regular Massage
Get a regular massage. Now this is not me being bias because I'm a Remedial Massage Therapist, but I believe if you find a good one it makes a big difference. Especially if you find one who can actually check that all the muscles groups are firing properly (most importantly the glutes!) and potentially stop an issue before it starts. Also any method that's moving blood around the body will certainly speed up recovery and help bring nutrients to all the tissues.
7. Bike Position
A poor bike position can lead to many issues. If you are one of those athletes that will stop at nothing to get as aero as absolute possible, but you can barely touch your knees when you bend over; 1) You probably won't have your full power while being super aggressive, 2) You likely won't stay in aero for the whole 180 km because it will be too uncomfortable/painful. Now we are all about being aero but it needs to work with your own personal biomechanics and the type of riding you do. At Trisutto we do heaps of big gear and this doesn't fit with a more cyclist type position and a saddle that's too high. This this will stop you from being able to use the glutes and push the heal down to mash the pedals. Most hamstring issues I see coming from the bike are almost always when saddle height is too high.
How do you know? - well your hips would look like a rocking chair when you ride if your saddle is too high and when you push the pace you will likely feel your hamstrings. We like to save the hamstrings for the run so I tend to lean more towards lower than higher.
8. Run Technique
Pay attention to run form. At Trisutto we pay very close attention to swim, bike and run form. Some may call our methods unconventional, but they work. For running we get off our toes, stand more upright and pick up our cadence to get faster. I have a great athlete from the UK, big fellow, big engine, that came to me last year with calf injuries. I asked him to send me a run video and I could see right away, his 90 kg body was running very much on his forefoot. This same athlete had his saddle to high on the bike as well, so every run and ride he was doing was way over using his calves. We fixed this straight away and he hasn't had an injury ever since, while having his best runs off the bike ever last season.
Change shoes often but don't swap between different shoes. This is especially important if you wear a very protective shoe. Shoes with a lot of cushioning or motion control wear down, and any small change in biomechanics can cause issues. For example any extra wear down to the outside of your shoe can be just enough to put extra strain on certain muscles. If I have an athlete saying their shins or peroneal muscles are getting a bit tight, or anything lower leg or hip when nothing has been changed in training, the first thing I ask is how old are the shoes? Almost always they are completely trashed and a new shoe in the same make and model fixes the issue straight away. Another note is that we like to race in what we train in. I see so many have one shoe for training then a totally different shoe for racing which I think is insane. We race in what we train in - I made this dumb mistake once and actually got an injury during a race that stopped me from running for a few weeks after.
10. Slow Down!
Never train through pain, go at a pace where you have no pain. This is critical. I've seen so many athletes with issues who won't slow down and wonder why their niggles won't go away. If you have an injury and can train easy with no pain then this in my opinion is the best rehab. If you can't run, walk. If you can't walk, water run. It keeps the muscles from wasting, keeps the neuromuscular system active and is a great way to keep bringing oxygen and blood flow to the area to speed up healing. I'll never forgot our friend Phil Buchli who came to camp in St Moritz. Phil had an Achilles injury and he was so good at jogging all the track sessions and faster running sets. He had no issue putting his ego aside and running 6:30 min/km. I followed him on Strava up until Ironman Switzerland and he just kept it up and slowly got quicker. It was obvious that his Achilles fixed right up- he ended up running a 3:12 marathon off the bike! I know in the past Brett had had some of his pros with injury put a backpack on and go for a long hike instead of running if they were injured.
Training Camps with Coach Michelle - Join Coaches Michelle & Gary Barnes in one of their favourite training locations, Scottsdale, Arizona. Feb 2024.