Managing Injury

This week, we’ve got another guest blog from one of our fantastic coached athletes!

In terms of my life as a triathlete, the start of 2019 was similar to previous years. I recall looking at my iPad, knowing the date of my ‘A race’ triathlon and working backwards.  I planned to fit in a couple of ‘practice’ triathlons as well as some key challenging running events, which included my favourite type of race; very low-key off-road events with friends, to get through the ultra-distance and elevation.

Progressing into 2019, training was going well, and I ticked off a sprint duathlon with fellow tri club members and a 25 mile off road run through the west Pennine Moors of Lancashire by the end of January!  Early March, I headed off for my tri camp in Cyprus, where I’d been previously and was looking forward to a whole week of training.  After one of the running sessions, I started to feel a pain behind my knee.  I thought it was just the result of a tough session, rested it when I could, self-massaged and carried on.  On returning home, I reduced the number of my run sessions, but it made little difference.  On occasion, the feeling upon running got to a point where every placement of the foot on the ground resulted in an intense ‘shock’ wave, but like many ‘pains’ as I ran through it, it would ease off! But the pain recurred on every run.  I sought professional advice where a cartilage tear was suggested as the cause – I could use kinesthetic tape and carry on, but at some point, it may well get worse, so suggested a proper diagnosis by MRI investigation. I’ve always ‘done sport’ and in particular running was ‘me’, so to hear I had a meniscus tear, confirmed by MRI, was frustrating, upsetting and I was pretty fed up!  At least, I had swimming and cycling I could do, and I had my biggest cyclist challenge in 2019, 150-mile coast to coast in a day sportive, so I had a focus and I had to make sure my body including my knee was fit for that!

The physio suggested some exercises to help strengthen the knee as well as raised the possibility of pursuing surgery – that would put an end to anything in 2019.  I pulled out of my A race triathlon event, pulled out of other events over the summer and sought the expertise of a coach from Tri and Run.  I was assessed and put though my paces, then given exercises to do to work on weak areas and build up key muscles to support my knees.  Whilst the exercises can’t fix the tear, they worked on running technique and activating the muscles that should be achieving the force and power rather than my body using weaker muscles and causing strains.  The exercises were hard at first, but well explained and we had 1-2-1 sessions which really helped the motivation.  The added bonus of being with Tri and Run was that, for me, the strength and conditioning exercises were also targeted for my cycling and swimming – a year later and my total number of continuous body ‘pull ups’ is still in single figures but that’s an improvement.

I still had one tri in 2019, in late September and a 19-mile hilly run in the Lakes a week after the tri. By mid-July, after the successful cycle sportive from coast to coast, I was back running, albeit less but, I was running. With my coach, we planned for the two events, continuing the strength and conditioning exercises, as an integral part of my personalised programme.  Not only was I able to compete in both the tri and the run, but my knee was ok – I can’t say I never felt any pain, but the pain was no more than normal for a middle distance triathlon and a hilly off-road run in the Lakes.  

A year later, I’m still ‘prescribed’ my personalised strength and conditioning as a Tri and Run coached athlete.  My knee is not fixed, but with ‘care’, it can be managed and allows me to do the triathlons and running that is so important to me.

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