Most of a triathlete's movements during training are repetitive, rhythmic and in a straight forward and back plane of motion. Compared to athletes who play soccer, dance, or do bodybuilding, triathletes do very little twisting and not much side-to-side or angular motion.The rare bit of twisting that is endemic to triathlon training comes in swimming, but many triathletes are cut off from their pools during the pandemic.This means we need to get creative if we don't want to succumb to common overuse injuries from cycling and running. Indoor training may seem safer, but it often exacerbates bad habits and lacks the turns and hills that allow our feet and legs to bend and adjust. As we detailed in a previous article, running and biking indoors results in one identical stride or pedal stroke after another. If you don't have perfect form, that means your body doesn't get a break from whatever uneven stress you are putting on it.Here are three ideas to get your body moving crossways, diagonally, and explosively. These different movements are important for strengthening the stabilizer muscles in your joints. Your knees and hips can only keep going bend-straighten-bend over and over if the muscles around the edges of the joint are strong and stable. And those muscles only BECOME strong and stable if you do something OTHER than bend-straighten-bend over and over.
Although martial arts is traditional practiced in groups in a studio, you can also find classes that take place outdoors, and if you already have some base knowledge, you can train on your own or using videos.From karate and tae-kwon-do to krav maga and mixed martial arts, the martial arts will have you jumping, pivoting, twisting and spinning. These are exactly the kind of movements you need to keep yourself balanced. If you want to make sure you are getting strength, too, you can purchase a heavy bag for practicing kicks and punches.
Training for explosive movement can be a great complement to the tick-tick-tick of your feet on a 10-mile run. Plenty of plyometrics workouts can be done in a park or in your basement or garage. Try step-ups on a log, boulder or bench. Walk down a rock-lined bank to the water's edge and back up to gain balance and strength. Complete sets of box jumps on a sturdy rock or log. And throw in some speedy-feet work by using the lines in a parking lot as a venue for ladder agility drills.
Yoga may seem like it's not intense enough for a hard-core triathlete, but as endurance athletes, our large muscles are often VERY tight and a simple downward dog position may not be so simple at all. As many advanced practitioners know, there's nothing relaxing about holding challenging positions, and the practice improves strength right along with flexibility. Check out the many online yoga classes now available for all levels of experience on YouTube or the website of your favorite yoga studio.