The Memorial Hermann IRONMAN Texas North American Championship presented by Waste Management is this Saturday in The Woodlands. For those who are inspired by the thousands who will participate in the upcoming IRONMAN triathlon race, there are a wide variety of triathlon distances and events athletes can begin preparing for any time of year.

Triathlons are events of varying distances that involve swimming, cycling and running in successive fashion. There are four primary triathlon distances:

 

Sprint: Half-mile swim, 13-mile bike and 3.1-mile run

 

Olympic: 0.9-mile swim, 24.9-mile bike and 6.2-mile run

IRONMAN: 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and a traditional marathon run of 26.2 miles

Half-IRONMAN: 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike and a 13.1-mile run

No matter the distance, Kim Gandler, M.S., a biomechanist at Memorial Hermann IRONMAN Sports Medicine Institute-Texas Medical Center stresses several points to help athletes avoid the fatigue-related injury risks that come with increased training time, distance and volume.

 

Adhere to a well-rounded hip and glute strengthening program

 

“Hip musculature controls the majority of our biomechanics, so a basic body-weight strengthening routine is essential to balance the hip musculature and prevent fatigue-related injuries,” Gandler said. “A truly successful training season begins by taking time to balance your musculature and minimize excessive stress on the knees, ankles and hips.”

Wear properly-fitted running shoes

 

The most popular brand or trendy type of running shoe isn’t always the best. “Find shoes that complement your individual bone structure and running technique,” Gandler said. “Only you can change how your foot hits the ground. A shoe will not change that for you.

“A well-fitted running shoe should help you maintain proper alignment and minimize the stresses on your Achilles tendon, iliotibial band (IT band) and patellar tendon.”

 

Flexibility

 

“Depending on your individual structure and any muscle imbalances you have, you will experience stresses in different areas during training,” Gandler said.

Gandler suggests using a foam roller after every workout to help lengthen the muscle fibers that are stressed and to help keep the body in alignment. For many, this means targeting the IT band, the piriformis (a muscle in the hip) and the calves. But a foam roller can also be used to prevent tightness in many other muscle groups.

 

Rest and Recovery

Following these simple tips, along with a well thought-out training plan should help keep athletes injury-free in their training. But rest and recovery are also very important.

“Over-working your muscles to a point of fatigue is the fastest way to trigger an avalanche of problems,” Gandler said.  “Be smart and listen to what your body is telling you.”

 

The Institute offers a wide range of services at its three facilities, located in the Texas Medical Center, Memorial City and The Woodlands. To set up an appointment or find the location nearest you, visit ironman.memorialhermann.org.