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Most endurance athletes be faced with the prospect of managing some form of injury or aggravation during training. Below are some hints that may help you to keep it rollin’ all year long.

When athletes discuss volume it makes me think about how some bodies will react to logging lots of training time. I love volume – but running big miles, cycling high volume, doing huge weeks – can be recipes for overuse injuries. Not everyone is physically ready to do high volume. How do we know? The ability to recovery and injury are tell-tale signs. The difference between a full and satisfying year and a year of disappointment may be the prevention or early detection of potentially debilitating chronic injury. Having the ability to avoid or cut short overuse injuries without loss of fitness can be quite an advantage. Having the chance to perform year round without major injury or illness is a powerful asset. On the other hand, being chronically impaired can ruin an entire year.

My goal – and the goal for my athletes – is for us to go all year without significant injury or illness. Assuming we all want to be able to show up and race feeling near 100%, how do we follow through?

I believe it starts with prevention. Heading off trouble before it begins is the way to go.

We can prevent injuries early in preparation phases by increasing flexibility beyond what most think is required. Developing stronger muscles, tendons and ligaments via sport specific strength work – especially early in prep phases --is an excellent injury prevention tool and might continue year round.

Those individuals who lack solid base training and general physical development will be more prone to overuse injuries. Be aware of what you, as an athlete, may be predisposed to. For instance, runners are prone to soft tissue injuries in the lower half of the body. Cyclists are more likely to suffer immune problems and illness.

Excellence in nutrition will show itself in a lack of illness and in the ability of an athlete to recover more quickly. Recovery leads to consistency. Consistency leads to superior fitness.

The very nature of endurance sport invites overuse injury. Our response to that first niggling discomfort may determine whether we end up sidelined or performing at an ‘A’ event. I am stressing the importance of communication with your coach or honest self appraisal. Even about apparently insignificant symptoms. Quite often, simply altering frequency, intensity and/or duration will be enough to quiet an emerging problem. Rest, ice, heat, massage and some forms of physical therapy can help to nip overuse injuries in the bud.

An athlete should know that ignoring the first signs of injury – hoping to train through a problem – wishing that it would go away -- is like inviting a debt. The debt will grow, and one will probably end up paying for it – with compound interest.

In my chiropractic practice, and with my athletes, we strive to treat causes rather than symptoms alone. By treating symptoms by themselves we may get quick relief, but the problem may well return. By correcting the cause(s) we can prevent repeat injury. Causes may include training loads, poor equipment, technique deficiencies, nutritional lapses, terrain, weather related problems or poor fit. An injury may be due to one or many of these variables at once. It can be a puzzle that coaches and athletes become better at solving over time. Form alliances and network with sports medicine experts who can help guide you as you become proficient at helping athletes/yourselves circumvent prolonged significant overuse injuries.

From Tudor Bompa"Recovery or regeneration is a multidimensional process."

We should take into account our age, gender, environmental factors, psychological factors, nutrition and sleep.

Strive to go through a year free of significant injury or illness. First employ prevention. At first sign of symptoms, immediately alter one or all of frequency, intensity and duration. If symptoms do not clear up within a few days or a week, be prepared to use the services of a professional for advice and/or treatment. A short rest and recovery is always better than a prolonged one. Superior fitness stems from consistent training. Consistent training goes hand in hand with good health.


Kevin Purcell, D.C., is a USAT Level 1 certified coach for Elite and Age Group triathletes who compete at both Ironman and short course distances. Coach KP has completed 10 Ironmans and qualified for the 2003 Hawaii Ironman Triathlon World Championships. Dr. Purcell practices Chiropractic with an emphasis on sports medicine in San Diego, California and can be reached at kevprcll@aol.com.