Our June UESCA Coach of the Month, Dr. John Tuggle, is a seasoned endurance athlete and chiropractor whose business, The Tri Doc, focuses on endurance athletes. Dr. Tuggle offers great advice on when to seek help for pain, how to reduce the chance of injury and how to successfully manage a hectic schedule. Lots of good stuff here!!
Being an endurance athlete means that you’re going to have some aches and pains from time to time. How does an athlete know when they should seek out a professional clinician such as yourself?
It’s pretty common and normal for an athlete to have aches and pains here and there. An occasional ache doesn’t warrant a visit to your local PT, sports chiropractor or sports MD. I tell my patients that if you have a pain that persists longer than 10-14 days then it becomes a concern and needs to be addressed by a professional. Additionally, athletes should seek medical attention if activity is bringing on a high level of pain during or immediately following activity.
Lastly, if one specific area is frequently painful, then get it looked at. For example, if your right knee bothers you every other run and your home maintenance routine isn’t helping, then go get it checked out.
As you work with a lot of endurance athletes, what are some of the most common reasons patients (endurance athletes) come to see you?
The most common issue I see in my clinic is that athletes’ training volume is not clearly aligned with their maintenance volume. Many people tend to be disciplined to hit their weekly mileage but will miss foam rolling, stretching and cross training if their schedule gets too busy. I tell them you can cheat every once in a while without falling apart, but when the cheat becomes the norm, injuries and issues are likely to follow.
What would be your best advice to reduce the chance of a running injury?
Athletes need to develop a simple home exercise plan to complement their running plan. Foam rolling, stretching and simple muscle activation exercises can be done while watching tv or hanging out with the kids. We must match our workout load with our body maintenance.
I also strongly encourage them to look at this as something that with help their running rather than as a punishment. When they buy into this they can stay injury free much longer and as an added bonus, improve efficiency.
As a father of three, Ironman triathlete and business owner, how do you find time to train and what tips would you give to other busy professionals?
Get creative. I have teenagers, so early mornings work really well for me. If you have a flexible lunch time that also can be a great opportunity to train. I’m a big believer in balancing family, work, and hobbies so I rarely workout in the evenings when the kids and my wife would like to see me. I think it is very important to remember to be healthy across the board.
Working out is important, but the example we set for our children and our spouses is also very important. Find a balance and stick with it.
What do you enjoy the most about working with fellow endurance athletes?
I think I have absolutely the best job in the world. My hobbies and work are so intertwined sometimes I can’t tell them apart. I fix athletes injuries, I help alter their training plans to adapt to their issues/injuries and then I see them running on the trails I run and racing at the races I’m at. It’s the best of both worlds. All day long every day I get to discuss racing and training for endurance activities. How could it get any better?
United Endurance Sports Coaching Academy (UESCA) is a science-based, endurance sports education company that offers online-based triathlon and running coach certifications.
Download the UESCA Running Coach Certification Overview and course syllabus (psst… the overview contains a code for $50 off!)