How to Overcome Injury Grief

Recovering better from injuries, why endurance athletes need calcium, and the benefits of high-cadence cycling

Good morning everyone,

I’m a couple of days removed from my race at the St. Anthony’s Triathlon, and my quads are certainly not letting me forget! It was an absolute battle from the gun and everyone was laying it on the line for the (swim-shortened) Olympic distance race.

I pushed as hard as I could for the duration and finished feeling like I was going to vomit. But I just ran out of real estate on the run and ended up 4th overall, about 10 seconds off the podium.

As always, I really enjoyed the race experience and sharing the course with almost 4000 other athletes. And I was able to catch up with a few subscribers which is always awesome!

What wasn’t as awesome? Scrambling around before the start looking for a swim cap that I thought I had packed in my bag! Because after 20+ years of racing, rookie mistakes still happen 😂

In today’s edition: 

  • 💪 How to overcome injury grief and recover stronger.

  • 🦴 Why you NEED more calcium as an endurance athlete.

  • 🏎️ And the benefits of high cadence cycling.

Thanks for being here,

-Matt Sharpe, newsletter editor

Headshot of Matt Sharpe

Have a triathlete in your life who can't stop swimming, biking, or running? Fire this off to them. Forwarded from a friend? Sign-up for free. 

FAVOURITES

🦴 Maximum calcium: Calcium is a critical nutrient for endurance athletes. It helps keep bones strong and stress fracture-free, and it also plays a critical role in muscle contraction. So how much should you be consuming? And where are the best sources? Find out here. [Triathlete]

🏎️ High cadence hero: Low cadence (RPM) cycling intervals are great for building strength and muscular endurance. But you don’t want to forget about high cadence work! Training at higher RPMs helps develop aerobic and pedal stroke efficiency, and helps you hit T2 with a lot less fatigue. [Wahoo Fitness]

🤕 Injury interruption: Lionel Sanders has just gone from the incredible high of winning IRONMAN 70.3 Oceanside to the crushing low of an injury. This video shows how even the best athletes push through the signs of injury in the pursuit of performance. [Lionel Sanders]

✅ Nail your return to run: If you’re coming back from a running injury, you might benefit from adopting a higher cadence in the early stages of your return to run. Running with a higher cadence helps reduce global loading in areas like Achilles, tibial stress, and patellofemoral stress. [Montana Running Lab]

TRAINING THOUGHT

The Grief of an Injury, and How to Bounce Back 

Triathletes and injuries are...a little too friendly. Unfortunately, in the course of pursuing a big win, personal best, or even an easy run on the trail, injuries are always a possibility. 

And when the ability to enjoy a chosen pursuit is taken away, emotions like anger and sadness often occur, which can leave athletes with a sense of grief. 

This New York Times article describes the grief athletes experience while injured, and gives a few tips on how to overcome an emotionally difficult recovery period. Here are a few key takeaways 👇

✔️ Track your recovery: 

  • Like following a training plan, following a list of recovery tasks will provide needed structure.

  • A recovery list can contain actions that will stop (training), start (external focus, like reading more), and continue (physio exercises).

  • By accomplishing these tasks, athletes have a better internal locus of control, and will be more confident and empowered.

🧑‍🤝‍🧑 Seek community:

  • Having a community of fellow athletes that can relate to the struggle of injury can help navigate the grief.

  • Being able to speak candidly with others helps to understand, process, and eventually help cope with the onslaught of emotions.

🧘 Be flexible:

  • While recovering from injury, being open to change can create new, and positive experiences. 

  • For example, oft-injured Olympic Steeplechaser Colleen Quigley used swimming and biking in her rehab. Now she wants to compete at the Olympics in Triathlon!

REEL TIME

This guy actually raced his guts out 🤮 but with an Olympic berth on the line there’s no point in holding back!

WHAT YOU SAID

We got A LOT of great feedback from Tempo readers on whether IRONMAN’s added race experiences will make them more likely to sign up for a race.

Reader: They just make a more expensive and you can see that Ironman events are already not selling out that fast anymore the trend is declining, people are getting tired of paying that much money…

Reader: The pre-race swim is important for so many people who need extra time to warm up and to relax before the start. There used to be pre-race warmup at almost all races to support the Smart Swim Safety guide, but it got dialled back a lot. Weather can be a factor as to whether there is a pre swim or not. I hope the pre-swims actually happen at both 70.3s and Ironmans.

Reader: Happy to pay for more experiences around races and feeling (even) more connected to the sport and the community. Lets see what the quality will be, to me that is going to be key. the IRONMAN brand isn’t cheap - more experiences added to the mix can potentially make them feel more 'value for money'.

Reader: I've done IMMaryland 2x now and feel like some of this is similar to what Gerry Boyle and Angie have in place and I love those opportunities and feelings of collective celebration of a big training cycle. These should be part of IM and I appreciate them being official, but I'm hard pressed to support IM above other branded fulls. Even tho there are so few left.

Reader: As a newish age grouper with a family and financial responsibilities, the only thing getting me to an IRONMAN event is a lower fee. Triathlon is already an expensive sport. I don't need the gimmicks, just the cost-savings.

Reader: Ironman will just become less accessible to most people and exclusive to the financially elite. As much as I love triathlon it seems to be a sport that has little to no regard for environmental impacts but continues to strive for wasteful excesses. Interesting is that the environment is throwing extreme challenges at events at an increasing intensity.

Reader: The experience 15 years ago was just fine. Pre race dinner, post race dinner and awards ceremony, practice swim, huge expo with plenty of outside vendors, coed world championships at Kona, etc. over the years they have increased the entry fee and cut back on the experience.

Reader: These may appeal to the one and done athletes but most serious triathletes who train and race year after year are only interested in a good race experience and would prefer lower entry fees.

Reader: They’re also making unpopular decisions like changing to mortal hydration which will have a greater impact on athlete experience than a shake out run.

Reader: I'm building towards my first 70.3 in the next 2 years. The idea of having those extra moments to remember is very exciting to me.

Reader: The "non race extras" don't really appeaI to me, except opportunities like the VIP experience for the spectating family members: Ironman is a long time to sit in the sun waiting for your favorite biker aha!! I am more interested in IM finding race venues with a varied mix of swim (and I mean real swims, not ones where the Dorito bag is faster than an olympic swimmer), bike and run courses, and weather. I also prefer spectator friendly places, like college or resort towns, with enough lodging/food amenities so we don t have to stay 30 miles away from the venue :)

Reader: These new experiences might be "cool" for an athlete either completing their first IM or who has no desire to complete more than one race, but someone who completes multiple IM races per year is already doing it for the thrills and physical/mental challenge. These extras wouldn't make a difference for me. I'd rather see more transparency from IM leadership.

Reader: We have seen the status of those who attend Equinox: wealthy, often white folks. If Derue is building off of his experience at Equinox and following a similar model, I worry that these Experiences will make the sport inaccessible for folks who aren't white and wealthy. I'll continue to support my local races to drive diversity and inclusion.

Reader: Sadly no. I want better age-group doping testing. Safer more interesting courses. And better customer service for long term customers.

RACE WEEKEND

IRONMAN Texas

In the women’s race, Katrina Matthews (GBR) was able to overcome a recent calf injury to take the win in The Woodlands for the second year running. Tomas Rodriguez (MEX) shocked the world taking the win in the men’s race and running a 2:34 marathon in the process.

Pro series: Fenella Langridge (GBR) and Patrick Lange (GER) are currently leading the IRONMAN Pro Series.

World Triathlon World Cup Chengdu

Julie Derron (SUI) dominated the women’s race, while Max Stapley (GBR) used a devastating final kick to take his first World Cup win.

St. Anthony’s Triathlon

Marc Dubrick (USA), and Lisa Becheras (USA) both used strong bike legs to power away from the competition and take emphatic victories at the 41st edition of this classic American race.

Challenge Taiwan

Els Visser (NED) continued her incredible podium run with another win. While Jack Moody (NZL) used a powerful run to take the win in the men’s race.

QUICK NEWS

Rinny in the hall: Mirinda Carfrae was induction into the IRONMAN in Australia Hall of Fame. [TRIZONE]

Torremolinos Triathlon: The Torremolinos Beach Triathlon broke participation records as it attracted more than 300 athletes. It will be the site of this year’s World Triathlon Championship Finals. [Sur in English]

Incredible athletes: Indian athletes Adarsh Muralidharan Nair Sinimol and Mansi Mohite emerged as the men's and women's champions respectively in the South Asian Triathlon Championships. [News Drum]

Raising funds: The St. Anthony’s Triathlon once again raised significant funds for health programs at St. Anthony’s Hospital. [Yahoo Sports]

Olympic hopeful: Waterford native Shannon Kelly kicked off her first year as a pro triathlete as she builds towards representing Ireland at the 2028 Olympics. [Independant]

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