It’s inevitable – with triathlon training comes injuries.
As I sit here writing this post, I am currently in between a stretching drill and a massage gun session, trying to overcome a bout of IT Band Syndrome, which no doubt has come from some form of overtraining.
Yes, even with a structured program, overtraining can happen and it is a fine line between undertraining, training efficiently (to maximize those GAINZZZZ) and overtraining.
I, like many other triathletes, choose to use Training Peaks for all of my training logs and planning. In collaboration with my coach (Raf Baugh from Front Runner Sports ), I have a structured plan which involves a steady build towards whichever event I am training for, which in this case is the Busselton 100, which is around 8 1/2 weeks away.
While your coach should manage your load, they aren’t miracle workers. A rush of blood on a training ride, or taking a more difficult running route (unplanned hills, for example), can all increase the load your body endures, which can lead you to be more exposed to injuries such as the ITBS I am currently facing.
Now, should you not rely on a coach, you will need to manage your own load, and Training Peaks is a perfect way to do this. Now, I preface this section by saying that in order to monitor your load in the way I describe below, that you will need the paid plan with Training Peaks, which will set you back just under $10USD per month. This will then give you access to your Performance Metrics, which are important to recognize your Fitness, Fatigue and Form levels.
Now, I am not going to focus on the importance of your Fitness (CTL), Fatigue (ATL) and Form (TSB) in this article – that’s for another time. What I am going to focus on specifically is how your Form or Training Stress Balance (TSB) can be a great predictor of Training Load and a precursor for overtraining, fatigue and being prone to injuries.
When it comes to TSB, you should ideally have this reflecting as a negative number. The above chart, where a positive Form (TSB) figure is showing, is reflective of someone just starting their build, or someone who is tapering for an event (a great pre-race TSB score would be +5 or so).
Instead, your TSB should be balanced somewhere between -10 and -20 for a lot of your build. Training Peaks advise to ensure that “your TSB does not drop below -20 more than once every 10 days: a TSB of -20 indicates a severe level of fatigue that endurance athletes cannot experience frequently without negatively affecting their performance in workouts.”. In other words, if you constantly (or even semi-regularly) sit above that -20 TSB figure, you are opening yourself up to fatigue, burn out and increased risk of injuries.
In the days leading up to my ITB flare up, I was in the range of -23 to -25, which indicates that my load was higher than ideal, and as such, my risk of injury was higher.
Now, I’m no expert on this, but I have been spending a lot of time looking into training load and injury occurrence, and the facts speak for themselves. In short, focus on a steady, sustained build and you will put yourself in the best possible position to have an injury free event prep. Yes, there are some things that are unavoidable and it isn’t an exact science (as everyone’s body is different), but follow these tips and I am sure you will be on the right path!
For more info on managing your Training Stress Balance through Training Peaks, check out the article below: