Returning to training after injury

Hey all – bit of background on me first; I’m a runner turned triathlete, 37 years old and been running for around 7 years, triathlon for the last five. I’m a decent swimmer, average cyclist and a decent runner, so cycling is definitely my weakest discipline.

This year, I trained for my first Ironman at Hamburg in July. Around a month before, I probably pushed a little hard with not enough recovery and had a recurrence of a knee injury. With some physio and a lot of rest, I managed to make it to the start line with a ‘have a go and see what happens’ approach. Unfortunately, after around an hour on the bike I crashed and had to DNF. I had some minor road rash, but in the days afterwards I developed some fairly nasty pain in my ribs, which could be broken/cracked/bruised (here in the UK, our health service is very reluctant to X-Ray rib injuries as the treatment is the same whether they’re broken or not – rest and painkillers).

It’s now roughly three weeks since the DNF and I feel ok to ride easy on the turbo on my road bike for up to two hours, but I’ve done zero sessions with any intensity for around two months now. I swam for the first time since Hamburg yesterday and that was fine (although tumble turns were pretty uncomfortable) and I’ve run once with some pain, so I’m very cautious in that respect.

My question is: does anyone have any thoughts or suggestions about returning to bike training? My next race is a 70.3 triathlon in the middle of October so I have around 8-9 weeks until then. Based on my recent turbo rides, I would hazard a guess that my fitness has fallen, so if I had to put a number on it, I’d say that my FTP might have dropped from my last-tested 282 to around the 250 mark.

Should I continue noodling for a couple of weeks until any pain subsides to maintain some fitness or should I do a ramp test now if I can do it pain-free to get an assessment of my current fitness? My thought is to noodle for a couple of weeks and then test when I have 6 weeks to go until the race and follow a speciality plan from there, but I’m really just looking to check that this would be a decent way to go.

Thanks in advance!


First, you should ask a doctor or physio if you’re clear for full go. Until you get that clearance, I think your plan of noodling until you’re pain free is smart. I wouldn’t mess around with rib cage injuries, particularly if you don’t know the exact extent. At this point you’re not going to perform at your peak in the 70.3, so I would let go of time goals and focus on full and complete recovery and doing the best you can when the 70.3 rolls around.

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Disclaimer I’m not a medical professional (but I do have a lot of experience dealing with them as a patient.)
My two pence/cents
Broken bones are roughly 6 weeks healing but if you can swim okay, where I’d expect the upper body effort and expanding the intercostal muscles to hurt more, then a trainer session should be okay, the jarring from running would probably explain the pain there.
Start with lower intensity and see how you feel increasing the effort before jumping into a ramp test.

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That’s really useful, thank you! I’m definitely not viewing any time, pace or power goals for the 70.3 - I’m even perfectly ok with not doing the race at all as the last thing I want to do is set myself back further. I’m in no rush to get anything like intensity back into my training, so I’m more than happy to just going really easy for as long as it takes.

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That’s great, thank you - I’ve been working on the theory of a 6-week recovery, with an expectation that it will take longer for all pain to go away. More than happy to stick with a few weeks of easy riding on an alternative training platform where there are no power or intensity goals to keep some fitness until doing a test becomes a more realistic proposition.