However as most triathletes know, running is the discipline that puts most people out for weeks with injury- much more than swimming or cycling because of the impact on the body from pounding the pavements. Running injuries usually creep up on people. As an athlete, we all have aches and pains from time to time- that is part of the nature of training. But as a triathlete, managing three sports, we are prone to over training. Fatigue builds up due to too much training, not enough rest, not enough sleep, poor nutrition or simply juggling everything!
When we are most fatigued, our form and technique slip and we are at most risk of being injured. Every athlete has the odd day when their legs are aching from previous days training and they feel exhausted. But if this continues for several days in a row, take the warning signal and have a few days off or drop the intensity of training.
Sometimes the effort to “push through” just makes things worse and your body will make you stop by getting flu or developing an injury like shin splints or Achilles tendonitis. To avoid fatigue and injury break up the run sessions: sometimes do long, slow steady runs, other times do harder but shorter interval sessions. You will have worked hard and gotten some great improvements in fitness but had significantly less impact and pounding on the body.
Also make sure you spread out your long runs with a few days in between to allow the body to adapt, recover, get stronger. The body improves and adapts during rest- so make sure you get some!
Core stability is crucial and more and more research is pointing to the fact that this is the fastest way to improve your running speeds. If you have a weak core, you are simply wasting energy and have to work twice as hard to move the same distance forward.
The other secret that will help improve running speed and prevent fatigue and injury is stretching. The calves, hip flexors and hamstrings in particular suffer and tighten up with hard training sessions. Continue to stretch these out on a regular basis.
If you do have persistent pain, get it checked out by a sports physiotherapist right away. Do not let it get so bad that you need weeks or months off like many athletes do because they are trying to be tough. Any pain means there is damage in the muscles, joints or tendons. If a few days off does not sort it out, do see a specialist rather than run through the pain then develop and overuse injury.