More effective triathlon training
Lauren Bradshaw, the youngest physio at the London Olympics and an elite athlete in her own right, explains how to reduce the injury risk in triathlon training.

More effective triathlon training

Having looked at the basics of making the switch to triathlon, we'll now focus on the benefits of multi-sport training, while also highlighting ways to reduce the risk of injury.

Greater than the sum of its parts

Training in three disciplines is by far a healthier way to use your body than just running, swimming and cycling as individual sports. Here's why:

1. Each sport uses different muscle groups, so the fact that you will be training a wider variety helps to keep the body more balanced.

For example, as a cyclist, you spend a lot of time flexed over your bike in contrast to running where you will be far more upright. 

2. Sharing the load between three sports helps to decrease overall impact forces on your body - as swimming and cycling are non-impact disciplines.

If you had a running related impact injury for example, such as a stress response/fracture it may still be possible and comfortable for you to continue to train your cycling and swimming. So mentally it can be great to have other focuses if there is one sport you cannot do at any moment in time.

3. It is also quite reasonable when training the three disciplines that they will not all feel ‘great’.

Therefore using your motivation to train areas that are feeling better rather than focusing on things that maybe aren’t going so well can help to keep you ticking along and avoid getting de-motivated.

Reducing the risk of injury

The main challenges in injury prevention for triathletes are knowing your limits and overloading. 

Because tri is an endurance sport and you have to train three sports, overuse can mean that the body does not get the desired amount of recovery it needs and will slowly break down over time which can lead to a variety of issues.

The most common problems I see in triathletes are:

1. ITB Friction Syndrome. Where the Iliotibial band rubs on the outside of your leg either at the hip or knee with repetitive motion, becomes inflamed and causes pain.

2. Achilles tendon issues. These are also due to increased loading and often poor biomechanics and can result in swollen, thickened Achilles tendons that can be agony to walk on let alone run.

As a physiotherapist, I constantly badger my patients to include specific warm/up and cool down strategies into their daily workouts so they help to keep the body strong and balanced. 

Exercises could include squats, lunges and bridges, which work on biomechanical and proprioceptive control and strength. Combine them with foam rolling and mobility exercises to keep tissue mobile and reduce stiffness.

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