10 irritating minor tri ailments and how to treat them

Nothing stops a triathlete in their tracks quite like an irritating ailment. Amy Swan reveals some common tri problems, and how you can beat them


 1. Beard chafing on the shoulders

Little grazes on the front of your shoulder and a matching one the other side? Yep, beard rash from the swim. Many triathletes’ swimming styles mean that when they reach forward their shoulders rub against their face, causing chafing. Changing your swim technique, perhaps through coaching, could make this a thing of the past.

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2.  Tri-suit-shaped tan/sun burn lines 

Competing solely in the UK is unlikely to leave you suffering too severely from this one, but overseas events in sunnier climes can often be a fast ticket to sunburn like never before. Sunblock applied before the race often sweats off and, out on the course, protecting your skin isn’t usually at the forefront of your mind. Some race organisers wisely provide suncream and people to speedily apply it in transition but, if in doubt, cover up! Skin cancer is a real risk and shouldn’t be overlooked.

3. Wetsuit chafing on the neck 

Ever noticed that nasty, weeping graze on the back of your neck, often to one side? Well, it’s from the zip of your wetsuit rubbing your skin repeatedly as you swim – and if you have short hair, everyone will notice it. So, if you’re looking to be lovingly snuggled anytime soon, smother your neck area with Vaseline prior to a race or training session.

4. Razor cuts and in-growing hairs on the legs

If you’re a woman, you’re probably an experienced leg shaver. For men, however, it’s fraught with hazards. Key is not to hack away with a blunt blade; you need to invest in some proper equipment and lotions, just as you would do when shaving your face. And if all else fails, turn to Immac.

5. Prune feet 

The combination of wet feet from the swim, soaked trainers from the changeover and sweat from the all-round effort, means by the time you cross the line and give them an airing, your feet resemble a couple of pieces of dried fruit. Unfortunately there’s not much that can be done to prevent this one – just grin and bear it! 

6. The hunchback

Swim and bike sessions can leave you stiff, painful and stooped like Quasimodo. Getting rid of back pain can be tough but finding a better, more comfortable position on the bike should work wonders. Treat yourself to a professional bike fitting (they’re worth every penny), and work on core stability to strengthen your posture. 

7.  Smacks at the swim start

Mass starts aren’t pretty with the fight for pole position often getting dirty – whether it be intentional or not. Scratches, bruises and black eyes are commonplace from the kicks, clashes and smashes. So if you want to stay out of harm’s way, find a clear bit of water to stick to on the outskirts of the bundle – or just swim a bit faster.

8. Blisters 

You instantly know if your trainers don’t feel right, but avoid making any adjustments and it could all end in tears. Check that your trainers fit – taking professional advice if you need to – and make sure they’re comfortable. And don’t forget your socks! Phil Graves did it at the Ironman 70.3 World Championships once and hobbled his way to the finish.

9. Hard skin on the feet

Your feet take a serious battering throughout the triathlon season – they’re wet, they’re dry, they’re in trainers, they’re out of trainers, they’re sweaty, they’re wrinkled… and frankly, they just can’t cope. All that trauma means the skin on parts of your feet might toughen up considerably and, in extreme cases, lose feeling in parts of them altogether. If a pedicurist won’t touch them, head to a chiropodist.

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10.  Bike-seat balls

One for the boys – and it’s the excruciating ill effects of that blasted bike seat! Cycling for a long period of time can cause untold pain and discomfort to the undercarriage. Ironman participants have even reported hallucinating from the torture. While infertility hasn’t been proven as a side effect of long hours spent in the saddle, soreness certainly has. If this is a problem for you, get your seat positioning checked or try a different seat to suit your… erm… shape