Jason Gootman and Will Kirousis | Tri-Hard (www.tri-hard.com)
You hear stuff every day about things you can do to stay injury-free and keep
swimming, cycling, and running consistently. But, be honest, do you actually do
this stuff? Do you put it off hoping that you won’t get hurt? Action works better
than hope. And most type-A triathletes thrive with to-do lists. We know the
athletes we coach thrive off getting their training plans and checking off the
workouts. So how about to-do lists for injury prevention—an injury-prevention
checklist? We’ve got a three-part checklist for you that contains more than the
surface-level injury-prevention stuff you hear all the time. Do this stuff and you
will create a deep well of wellness and ward off injuries proactively. Have at it—
check off as many items as you can!
Daily or Near-Daily Checklist
(Aim to check most of these off daily or close to daily.)
- Get to bed by 10:00 p.m. and sleep at least eight hours in a very dark (free of artificial light) bedroom.
Sleep is your most rejuvenative state. While sleeping, your body repairs itself
through a cascade of hormonal reactions. With good sleep (quantity and quality),
your body literally builds itself back up from the breakdown of your workouts and
- Spend at least one hour resting (reading a book for fun, watching a funny movie, or doing something similar).
When resting, you are awake, but not putting out energy. If you are putting out
energy from the time you wake up until the time you go to sleep, you are wearing
down every cell in your body. You must balance putting energy out with taking
energy in. Rest is one of the keys to taking energy in. Take a break for crying
- Eat a hearty breakfast.
Breakfast starts your day right. You get the nutrients you need to run your body
well. Plus, people who eat breakfast tend to eat better all day long. Don’t have
time? Make a blended drink—you can make, drink, and clean one of those up in
no time. Or have leftovers.
- Drink at least half your bodyweight (in pounds) in water (in ounces) each day as a base and drink more for workouts.
Water is the most important nutrient in your diet. A well-hydrated you is a strong
you. Make this a habit. Drink all day and enjoy how good it feels. If you don’t
get enough water, you don’t assimilate the food you eat well. So even with super
meals, you will not be well-nourished. You are not what you eat—you are what
you digest. And being well-hydrated is a key to good digestion.
- Eat until you feel satisfied. Avoid food restriction of any kind.
A hungry athlete is an injured athlete. Eat like you did when you were a baby.
That is, eat when you are hungry and stop when you are full.
- Eat a nutrient-rich diet. A nutrient rich diet is high in food (found in “nature”) and low in food products (made in factories). Your body is made from the food you eat. Are you salmon and broccoli or crackers and diet soda?
- Eat protein-rich foods at every meal.
The muscle you eat becomes the muscle of your body. To repair your muscles
on a regular basis, you need a steady supply of protein. Don’t skimp.
- Eat some food rich in nourishing fats, like grass-fed beef, free-range chicken,wild-caught fish, free-range eggs, meat from wild animals, avocados, nuts, and/or seeds.
Fat is required to manufacture hormones. A diet void in fat will leads to an array
of hormone imbalances that substantially increase your injury risk.
- Enjoy work and minimize work-related stress.
Stress breaks you down. The cells that get stressed out all day at work are the
same cells that you run with. Are they getting hammered all day at work? If they
are, you are more likely to get hurt.
- Spend time with a good friend.
Being with a good friend with whom you can be your full, uninhibited real self
relaxes you far more than any “relaxation technique” ever could. Think of time
with a good friend as the best spa treatment you could ever get.
- Have sex.
Sex is how you connect with your romantic partner. Again, deeply intimate
connection is an essential part of wellness and relaxes literally every cell in your
- Do the workout(s) in your training plan. Don’t do more and don’t go harder than is called for. Do the workout(s) as planned. If it’s a rest day, don’tworkout—at all.
Whether you make your training plan or a coach makes it for you, each workout
has a purpose. Follow your plan.
- Have fun.
Have fun with life. Have fun with all aspects of your training. Keeping things fun
keeps you well and keeps you injury-free.
(Aim to check some of these off every few days to every few weeks.)
- Do a power workout (a.k.a. strength workout) that involves squatting, bending,twisting, lunging, pushing, pulling, jumping, and/or similar movements in various combinations.
Good power workouts (like the Tri-X workouts we use with our athletes) create
total-body integration so that you can effectively transfer forces through your
body from your feet and legs through your hips, pelvic girdle, spine, rib cage,
shoulder girdle, arms, and hands (and vice versa). Workouts like these go a long
way to keeping you strong and injury free.
- Cross-train by hiking, playing a game sport (like basketball, soccer, tennis, or similar sports), rock climbing, inline skating, cross-country skiing, or doing other workouts besides swimming, cycling, and running.
Varying your movement patterns via cross-training reduces repetitive stress and
maintains optimal posture and body balance. Restricting yourself to only
swimming, cycling, and running can lead to imbalances which can lead to
- Swim strokes other than freestyle. (A great way to build in swimming other strokes is to do some in the warm-up and/or cool-downs of your swims.)
Swimming other strokes has similar benefits to cross-training.
- Run on trails.
Trail running makes every step different, reducing repetitive stress. You also
experience lower impact forces when running on grass, dirt, and similar surfaces.
- Get a professional massage.
Massage is probably the best recovery technique and can go a long way to
keeping you injury-free.
- Take a nap.
Like a mini night of sleep, a nap offers a small dose of all the benefits of sleep
including secretion of growth hormone, a powerful repairer of tissue.
- Do an Epsom-salt soak. (Soak in a hot bath with three cups of Epsom saltdissolved in the water.)
An Epsom-salt soak is an age-old recovery technique for a reason. It’s a great
way to sooth a tired body. It’s a great way to deepen the relaxation you
experience when you rest and thus a very effective recovery technique. On top
of good sleep, rest, and nutrition habits, recovery techniques can really help keep
injuries at bay.
- Do some self-massage using the various self-massage tools available.
When you don’t have the time or the money for professional massage, the do-it yourself
version can offer similar benefits (Note: Fit Werx carries TPT kits…).
- Employ other recovery techniques you find helpful.
Any recovery technique that feels good is good for you.
(Aim to check these off every year or two.)
- Get an injury-risk assessment with a physical therapist or similarly qualified professional.
Through an injury-risk assessment you can screen out for potential injuries. A
qualified professional can then help you create a plan to correct your body
imbalances before they become a problem.
- Get a bike fitting with a professional bike fitter.
Periodic bike fittings ensure that you are in a bike position that is well-suited to
Learn more about Jason Gootman, Will Kirousis, and Tri-Hard at www.tri-hard.com.