Triathlon training with arthritis

Many of us get the odd aches and pains when training, especially at peak training load. But arthritis can mean they occur far more often, or continuously. But does it mean the end of training?

Not unless you have been told to stop by a doctor that understands sport as well as arthritis. There are things you can do to help your training.

Top tips for training with arthritis

 An important thing is to be consistent. Stopping for weeks and then diving straight back in will just cause more inflammation and stress on your body so keep moving.

Do some strength and conditioning. This will help to improve your joint stability and mobility and keep your body in balance. It could be a session in the gym or some yoga or Pilates.

Run on softer surfaces. Avoid the concrete, limit the tarmac! Trails and treadmills will reduce the impact on your joints. Trail running on a soft surface will avoid the repetitive running that you get on tarmac and mixes up the wear pattern on your joints.

Back off high pace efforts when running. Learn to run by feel. If you are having a bad day pain wise, back off and slow it down, walk if necessary.

Use the gears on your bike. Don’t grind up hills in big gears, it will put far too much pressure on your knees and hips. Gears are there to be used so use them.

Be wary of overgearing sessions on the bike. Like hard hill climbs they will put a lot of pressure on your joints, potentially leading to inflammation.

Build up endurance and intensity slowly. If you get a reaction, back off again and consolidate the level you are at. This will enable you to keep active for longer in the long run.

Photo of Penny by Beverley Thomas Photography

Adapt and Track

As a triathlete you are automatically cross training so make the most of it. If your inflammation levels are too high for a run, maybe a swim would work for you instead. But also be willing to accept that on a particular day your pain and fatigue levels are pointing to some rest and self care. That is just as important as the swim, bike, run sessions!

Work with your condition. Have a go at logging what you are eating and drinking plus the training you are doing, and see if there is a thread that links up with flare ups. It may be that you notice your inflammation is worse after you eat certain foods, or if you run two days in a row. Then you can use this information to adjust your diet and your training pattern. I would recommend working with a holistic nutritionist if you can to help you through this. They will be able to point to any supplements that may help.

And importantly, speak to your doctor. Try and find one who understands sport, or even better takes part in sport as they will have a far better understanding of the psychological and physical drive to keep active and keep positive.

Keep tri-ing, keep smiling.

penny harris triathlon coach

Penny Harris is a Global triathlon coach, specialising in the novice, the slightly broken, the nervous and those with long term health conditions. She has raced at all distances from sprint to Ironman.

Check out her website Octopus Sports Coaching

or find her on Facebook


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