When You Can’t Run As Much As You Want

One of our editors found a productive, fun way to cope with a series of injuries that could have easily sidelined her.

Nicki Miller after a triathlon in North Carolina.
Editor Nicki Miller completed a triathlon in North Carolina.

I’ve gone through a period of reduced mileage lately for a variety of reasons—Achilles pain, calf cramps, knee arthritis. At first I didn’t mind the break, since I’d been doing a lot of races, but lately I’ve been more annoyed. Especially since I went to a running camp in Wyoming a couple of weeks ago (which I’d highly recommend—there’s a camp for newbie ultrarunners in September that still has space!); instead of continuing to build on my miles once I got home, I’ve had to dial it back again.

At first I was happy to delve into other sports I enjoy. I’ve been road biking for almost 20 years, and I started mountain biking about a year ago. I thought a wee hiatus would find me back in action, logging long miles at high speeds on my own two feet, but sometimes your body has other plans for you.

I happened into a well-timed meeting with a swim coach with the company Finis, which makes a variety of products to help with swim training. Inspired by all of the Olympic athletes I’ll be watching a year from now and thinking about them using the same tools, I decided to hit the pool. I’ve been swimming since I was a child, but it’s always been my weakest leg in triathons.

Did someone mention triathons? Well, indeed, that’s how I’ve decided to cope. I realized four weeks out that TriRock San Diego is Sept. 20—perfect timing to focus on the sprint distance.

Related: 6 Great Triathlons For Beginners

To train, I’m doing three workouts each week for each discipline. Since the run is 3 miles, I can simply go for short training runs. I’ve been following hour-plus bike rides with 1 slow mile of running without pain, so it feels like progress. We’ll see if triathlon is the road to healing for the body. Right now it’s definitely helping my mind!