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Programing to Avoid Injury

Winter is the perfect time to iron-out any little niggling injuries that may have developed. By properly programming your training it is possible to reduce the chances of injuries in the future.

In this blog I aim to set-out five training priorities. The purpose is to help you reduce the risk of having an injury as well as to help you excel in 2021.

Two categories of injury

Let’s first begin by highlighting typical types of injury. These fall into two categories: intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic injuries would include tendon strains or overuse injuries such as stress fractures or tendinitis (from general training, normal events) Extrinsic injuries might include sprained ligaments, fractures or cuts, abrasions or dislocations (from falling off the bike for example).

There is no way to completely avoid getting injured. Certain things will be completely out of your control. However, it is possible to program your training to better reduce the chance of injuries.

Some causes of injuries

Intrinsic injury’s could be caused by:

• your range of movement not being sufficient for the disciplines,

• your technique,

• previous injuries,

• inappropriate training,

• insufficient fitness

• or insufficient levels of strength.

Some common causes associated with extrinsic injuries are:

• increased training load,

• bike crashes or trips out running, or getting dumped by a big wave.

• lifestyle factors such as lack of sleep or bad diet

Programming to reduce the likelihood of injury

Generally, getting an injury is bad luck but the chances of getting injured can be reduced. Two key factors mentioned above: bad diet and lack of sleep, could be complicated but still improved by simply highlighting that they exists in the first place and then monitoring using separate interventions, such as using a metrics log in TrainingPeaks or in a food diary.

Let us here look at how programming training can reduce the risk of injury and help you to excel next year. Below are five priorities taken from a pyramid. You should start with number one (the bottom, largest layer) and keep it as your first priority all the time. Each priority should layer on top, to take less emphasis than the one before.

1. Technique: Firstly and most importantly is to practice proper technique. This is ideally done with the help of a technical triathlon coach or a swim, bike run coach per discipline. Now isn’t the only time but now is the best time to work on technique. Always prioritise good technique first.

2. Mobility and Stability: Secondly we need to work on mobility and stability. It could be very helpful to recruit a physio or strength and conditioning coach to highlight areas that need mobilising or strengthening in the gym.

3. Strength: Thirdly, strength is a key attribute to reducing the chances of injury and increasing performance. Once proper technique is learned and the required range of movement is achieved, strength training should be layered on top. You can use over gearing or swimming with paddles to help increase strength. Lifting heavy weights in the gym will train the body to cope better with the forces inflicted through training. Whilst at this time of year it is best to swim, cycle and run at low intensity, the strength eliminate should be hard and heavy. Once more, technique is the number one key, followed by mobility and stability, only then should the strength be layered on top.

4. Power: The fourth consideration - which requires a good level of strength - is power. This is achieved by a combination of the force applied to the pedal when cycling, the ground when running or water when swimming, combined with the cadence or stroke rate. In the gym this would be lifting medium to heavy weights but lifting them fast. Becoming more powerful is not only going to reduce the risk of injury but it will make you perform better.

5. Speed: The fifth and final consideration should be speed. By spending enough time at each stage set out above and layering on the next stage as you earn the right to do so, you will be safer, less prone to injury and more robust when going at speed. Going at speed puts lots of stress through the body. If any of the above priorities have not been programmed into your training, going at speed will pose a far greater injury risk and could prevent the continuation of the training program right when you are getting ready to race.


Every person is different and has various strengths and weaknesses. Whilst the bullet points and could broadly provide a sort of systematic clarity, it is important to be dynamic. It might be possible to do power training in some areas whilst solely work on technique in others, it depends on you, the individual. A complete beginner could use pure technique to achieve completing his first triathlon. Likewise some athletes could include speed training to their program, all year.

The key point to this blog is to encourage building strong foundations before progressing. Smart programming will not only help reduce the chances of you getting an injury but it will help you to excel next year too.

Happy Triathlon-ing


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