Triathlon Magazine Canada - - FEATURES - BY LUCY SMITH

FEW THINGS AN­NOY triath­letes more than be­ing in­jured. Time off train­ing re­quires lots of com­mit­ment and pa­tience. Among the most com­mon lower ex­trem­ity in­juries for triath­letes are plan­tar fasci­itis, stress frac­tures and sprained or strained an­kles, all of which re­quire an ath­lete to stop or re­duce run­ning.

There are ex­cel­lent cross-train­ing op­tions for ath­letes, in­clud­ing wa­ter run­ning and get­ting on an el­lip­ti­cal ma­chine. Wa­ter run­ning is per­fect for its non-weight bear­ing na­ture, while the el­lip­ti­cal, also very low weight-bear­ing, al­lows run­ners to hit near op­ti­mal ca­dence while train­ing, which is hard to mimic in the pool. You can reach a higher ca­dence in the pool, but only while do­ing the pis­ton style of run­ning (knees pump­ing straight up and down). It’s great for car­dio, but not biome­chan­i­cally spe­cific. The most nat­u­ral run­ning style in the pool re­sults in a very slow ca­dence, but is ther­a­peu­tic for ham­string flex­i­bil­ity and strength as well as up­per-body strength.

Life­s­port coach Jeremy Howard used wa­ter run­ning ses­sions to help an ath­lete whose foot was run over by a car. “The ath­lete sus­tained mul­ti­ple bro­ken bones and trauma to the lig­a­ments and ten­dons. We used three months of wa­ter run­ning to pre­pare for her re­turn to run­ning. We used in­creas­ing amounts of ca­dence-based ef­forts to el­e­vate the heart rate and also fo­cused on th­ese ca­dence skills that would pro­mote ef­fi­ciency and re­duce im­pact when she re­turned to the road.”

Life­s­port head coach Lance Watson has used wa­ter run­ning ex­ten­sively as in­jury re­hab to help ath­letes get back to run fit­ness, and as in­jury preven­tion to sup­ple­ment train­ing for ath­letes who tend to break down with higher run mileage. Watson likes to alternate wa­ter run­ning with quick, high knee drive to el­e­vate heart rate, and with over-strid­ing to stretch and en­gage the ham­strings and hip flex­ors. He also asks ath­letes to vi­su­al­ize their favourite run in­ter­vals.

An ath­lete re­habs run­ning on an Al­ter-g tread­mill for di­alled-in im­pact lev­els

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