Hardwick Triathlon: 3 Lessons in Triathlon Preparation

Here we go again, another triathlon to compete in on Sunday and the excuses are coming thick and fast. I’m competing in the Hardwick Triathlon in Tewkesbury tomorrow, but thanks to my recent lack of training due to torn ligaments in my ankle I was expecting it to be more of a training session and test of my ankle than an actual race.

However, my ankle seemed to be getting better by last weekend so this week I’ve stepped up the training quite a bit and was feeling fairly good. I did a longish (8 mile) run last Sunday, had an easy swim on Tuesday along with a hard, 7 mile interval run. Swimming had been the worst thing for my ankle, but it didn’t feel too bad in the pool (albeit with a pull buoy). My shins were a bit sore to start with on the run but eased up later.

I then had a nice 3 and a half hour fairly hard MTB ride at Brechfa on Wednesday and felt good. Thursday was another hard 30 mile ride on the road bike followed by an open water swim.

All was looking good and the plan was to have an easy run on Friday followed by a rest day on Saturday ready for the race on Sunday. Maybe I wouldn’t be as out of shape as I thought after all

I spent Friday morning working on someones garden, clearing out brambles, pulling up saplings and generally exerted myself a fair bit. All of the twisting, pulling, lifting and throwing didn’t really do me too many favours, my back was a little sore, but my ankle was sore too. In fact I didn’t stay there as long as I had intended because my ankle was hurting a little too much so stopped before it got too bad.

I did try to do my scheduled 30 minute easy run though and my ankle was OK for this. My shins however weren’t. They were sore from the off but just got worse and worse until about a mile in where I just couldn’t run anymore because of the pain. I stopped and walked painfully home. By the time I got there, my shins were still very painful and my hamstrings were feeling really tight too. I did my best to rest and recover last night as I watched my ankle swell up again. Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation, and Ibuprofen were all administered, all with little effect.

So, once again it looks as though I have prepared terribly. I got over-excited about being able to run again following my ankle injury and have probably overdone it. Rather than build back up slowly with some easy sessions, I’ve gone too hard and now I’m paying the price.

I’m hoping the rest day today will sort me out a little bit, but at the moment things aren’t looking good for the race. My ankle is swollen, my hamstrings are knotted and I have no idea how my shins will be until I actually start trying to run tomorrow. They feel quite sore this morning and if they are anything like they were yesterday on my run then I won’t even be able to finish the race tomorrow.

I’m trying to remain positive and hope that I’ll feel better by tomorrow and that the adrenalin will carry me through, but if not, then it’s a useful lesson or three.

Lesson 1: I’m not as young as I used to be and injuries take a LOT longer to heal than I think. Even when they start to feel better I should probably wait another week or two before ramping up the training.

Lesson 2: Ramping up my training after an injury really should be a gradual ramp, not an almighty step from next to nothing back into hard interval sessions. I may have only had a few weeks off but the sudden increase in training at a high intensity has played havoc with my shins and possibly my hamstrings too. I may have felt good, but my muscles weren’t ready for it.

Lesson 3: I should listen more – to my body that is. I said that my shins felt a little sore at the beginning of Tuesday’s run. That was a warning sign that I ignored. I still went on to do a very hard interval session and now have shin splints style pain when running. Had I listened to the warning signs and simply done a short easy run on Tuesday my shins would probably have been OK again by now.

I’ll let you know how I go in the race, but at the moment it’s back to being a training session rather than a race, and probably only a swim and bike session at that. If my shins are as sore as they were yesterday then I won’t do the run section of the race as that will only make them worse and I don’t want to be posting about learning a fourth lesson about exasperating an injury thanks to the mistake of getting carried away on race day.

Will I ever learn?

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Alan Cole

Alan is a Freelance Website Designer, Sports & Exercise Science Lab Technician and full time Dad & husband with far too many hobbies: Triathlete, Swimming, Cycling, Running, MTBing, Surfing, Windsurfing, SUPing, Gardening, Photography.... The list goes on.

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