Maintaining balance through the race season
The month of May marks the beginning of the physiotherapy busy season, which is a great reminder for me to pace myself in training and racing.
Many of the swim-bike-run injuries we see are a result of accumulative stress and faulty mechanics.
Stress fractures, muscle strains, low back and neck pain are a few examples of the body’s failure to adapt to the demands being placed on it.
Getting through the season injury free has a little bit to do with luck, but you can help yourself out by being smart about the quality and quantity of training/racing you pack into a season as well as what you are doing to recover from those efforts.
Taking a mid-season break to give your mind and body a break from the physical and mental stress of the race season is an effective strategy to avoid burnout and injury.
I always found this time of the year (immediately following XTERRA Richmond the past few years) was the perfect time to take a week off from structured training.
Mainly what I try to get out of my training-time-out is a mental break so I can make it to the end of the season…and through my workweeks!
Also appreciating the link between mental fatigue and injury – where the mind goes, the body will follow. As any mountain biker can relate to: I can’t believe I crashed at that spot I’ve ridden a million times!!
In regards to physical balance, doing something different and/or decreasing the usual swim-bike-run volume is a well-deserved break for overworked tissues and joints.
Me: [trying to self-treat my back while standing in the staff room reading my charts]
Dr. Salmon (chiropractor): “What’s wrong with you?”
Me: “Ugh, my back”
Salmon: “What did you do?”
Me: “Life. …or maybe excessive amounts of moving forward in a straight line”
Salmon: [sarcastically] “No way. I always tell my clients to do that”
At this is the time of year I also encourage clients (and myself) to get back on the corrective exercise wagon that most of us have fallen off of.
The most efficient and effective way to stay on the wagon is to get yourself a specific group of exercises that address your weaknesses.
I usually progress people to the point where they can focus on 3-5 exercises (about 30min) to be done 3-5x/week for maintenance or “prehabilitation”.
This year my break will be a bit later in the season and will resemble something like this:
Decrease training volume to have time to do stuff. Not sure exactly what that stuff will be yet, but because I am balancing work and training I really appreciate a week where I have time to do things like clean, catch up with friends (especially my neglected Ontario people in a different time zone!), and read something that doesn’t involve human anatomy.
Replacing usual swim-bike-run volume with corrective exercises targeting my chronic SI joint issues and unstable left shoulder.
Utilizing my diverse group of co-workers for treatment to compliment the exercise program and goal of achieving muscle balance. I find acupuncture very helpful for acute stiffness or pain and soft tissue release + joint mobilization/manipulation for my recurring patterns.
A little bit of R&R will go a long way!