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Adjusting Your Triathlon Season and Training Plan for Injuries

14 May
  • SumoMe

Triathlon Training Injuries

As busy age group triathletes struggling to balance training with work, family, and life, and often not having an extensive background in any of our three sports, we often find ourselves on the pointy end of an injury. Our concerns shift from “how to train and race” to “OMG, HOW do I train and race!!” Below are some tips to help you adjust your season and your training plan to an injury.

Big Picture Stuff

Your Injury, not Your Training Plan or Coach, is Your Coach Now

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to how to modify a training week or block to fit an injury. Instead, your number one guiding principle is the injury is in charge now and you need to listen to your body and the experts you engage to help you fix it. This can be summed as “the thing to do today is what your body says is the right thing to do.”

Your Recovery Plan is Your New Training Plan

It’s very important that you see a doctor or other expert as soon as possible who can formulate a plan to fix the injury. From there, it’s your responsibility to recover like it’s your job — apply the same discipline you apply to your job of triathlon training to your new job of injury recovery.  The sooner you jump on this and start working the plan, the sooner the plan will work, and you can move on to the more fun training stuff.

Adjust Your Season Goals to Fit within the Box of Your Injury

A successful triathlon season or race is a function of how you define it. You likely set goals for yourself based on Healthy You. But the original parameters of those goals have changed and therefore you must form new goals consistent with the limitations of Injured You. This is all just a game, none of us are being paid to do it. Get on with the business of getting better, setting new, more realistic goals and definitions of success, and resisting the temptation to shoulda coulda woulda the season. It is what it is. Fix it and drive on.

The Micro Stuff, or…

How to make training schedule decisions in real time. Real time is the key. Rather than writing a detailed Injured Me training plan, we’ve found it’s more effective to empower you to assess how you feel, what’s right for you, in real time, encourage you to do THAT. In short, you go from a 12-20wk training plan to what is essentially a day-to-day plan, at least for one of the three sports.

Here is some very simple guidance to help you:

  1. Reduce the intensity of your workouts first.
  2. Reduce the volume of your workouts second.
  3. Try to maintain the frequency of your workouts (4 runs per week, for example).
  4. Ask yourself, always “how will what I’m doing now affect my ability to successfully complete my downstream workouts?”


You have scheduled yourself to run four times per week at a variety of intensities adding up to Volume X. You wake up Monday to a 45′ run at a mix of intensities from Zone 1 to Zone 3. Rather than blindly running the prescribed workout, you will:

  • Pay very close attention to your body.
  • Turn down the intensity of the run to accommodate the forty five minutes (remember, volume has priority over intensity)
  • Be prepared to turn down the volume so you can retain your scheduled frequency across the week (#1 priority)
  • Assess the impact that the bullets above will have on downstream workouts.

The net is that you may very well find yourself running four times per week for 20-30 minutes each at Zone 1. Or three times per week. Or zero. Remember:

  • Your injury is your coach now.
  • Recover like it’s your job.
  • Reassess your goals.
  • It’s all just a game.

What tips do you have for your peers who may be struggling with a mid-season injury?

2 Responses to “Adjusting Your Triathlon Season and Training Plan for Injuries”

  1. rumpole May 31, 2012 at 7:51 pm #

    Did part of fast camp and loved it. The problem for me IS injury–specifically, on the run. Seems I have a bit of calf heart attack, and can’t’ run more than 20 minutes (although 4 hours on the bike is not a big deal, and 2×15 hard is a typical workout during the week). Similarly, although not a fast swimmer (1:50 T pace or so (meters)), I can survive most swim workouts.

    The major limiter is the run. Given that fast comes first, are these the right kinds of plans for me?

    • Rich Strauss June 4, 2012 at 10:18 pm #

      The short answer is yes, but you’ll need to make significant changes to the run portion of the training plans to accommodate your running constraints, as you would with any off-the-shelf training plan. Please see a post in this blog I wrote last month about adjusting training plans and triathlon seasons for injuries.

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