Training When Injured
If you get through twelve weeks of swimming, biking, and running workouts without so much as a muscle tweak, don't tell your triathlon friends. It will only make them envious — if they believe you.
Chances are greater that you will face at least one injury that will cause some downtime. Be sure you are ready to deal with it. First, fight the urge to feel sorry for yourself. Don't panic about the lost training. If your goal is simply to finish a triathlon, a little time off won't hurt you much. Even if you have a higher goal than just to complete the triathlon, only an extended break will affect you in a major way.
I'm substituting a bike ride for a forty-minute run because of injury. How long should I ride?
Whenever you substitute one workout for another, put in the same amount of time you were planning for the canceled workout. In the case in question, ride forty minutes.
Say you develop a shin splint that keeps you from running for a week or more. Instead of bemoaning your tough luck, look into possible substitute workouts. A stationary bike will give you a good aerobic workout without making the shin splint worse. You could also substitute a swim for a run. If you're like most triathlon newbies, you probably need more work in the pool anyway.
You could also consider pool running. Most health clubs have waist belts that will keep your feet from touching the bottom of the pool, allowing you to work your legs and arms in the running motion. You get a reasonable workout without the pounding. Your shin splint has time to heal while you're working out.
Some injuries require only that you scale back a bit in your workout. For example, if you strain a hamstring, you can keep the next running appointment on your calendar, but not if it involves speed work or hills. You can run, but go slower, and plan to stop if the pain increases during the workout.
Mind Over Matter
Injuries happen. Life sometimes gets in the way of training, even racing. Weather is unpredictable. Lots of things can happen to screw up your plans. How you handle these disappointments says a lot about you and your future success.
Don't get down if you're hurt. Find an alternative workout, get treatment, stay positive, and recognize that if you don't get to compete in the triathlon you planned for, it's not the end of the world.
You will have gained from the experience of training. Perhaps you learned something from the circumstances of your injury that will help you avoid a similar problem in the future. Just don't give up.