A duathlon can be a great introduction to multi-discipline racing, especially if you aren’t too keen on swimming, but that doesn’t make it an easy option.
Duathlons are tough and the dynamic of a fast opening run, biking hard and running fast again to the finish will arguably add something more strenuous then perhaps Olympic distance triathlon can. In your standard distance duathlon that’s 10k running, 40k biking and 5k running again.
As usual in endurance sports it’s all in the preparation, so make sure you train as hard as you can before the race. Of course you need to put in some decent mileage, plus all the intense sessions on the bike and run, but also practice running fast off the bike so you’re are conditioned for it by the time you come round to it in the race. Another good winter session that is great training for duathlon training is to break up a long ride and long run by running 30 minutes biking 90 minutes, running 30 minutes, biking 90 minutes, running 30mins! Breaks it up nicely!
Pace it well
During the race make sure that your pace is not too ambitious for your ability. Elite athletes can normally start very hard without having to worry too much about finding their legs on the bike and 2nd run and that way they’re in the race from the start. However if you’re not at that level then you have to judge it more conservatively, and quite frankly you’ll ride much stronger if your legs are not totally dead from the first run, and this is also where you’ll probably make up the most time. The fastest time from A – B is to hold a steady pace the whole way through the race.
Save time on transitions
Transitions are also an important place to save yourself some time and are worth practicing in training. If you can I’d advise using two pairs of shoes so when you come to your 2nd run they’re all fresh, opened up and ready to slide your feet into. Transitions can get a bit over crowded with bikes so pick a landmark in transition like a lamp post or a flag close to where your bike is stationed and and run to that point so you can find your bike. It also helps to have a practice run through transition so you know exactly where your bike is.
In your training and preparation concentrate your efforts on aerodynamics as well as normal fitness training. This is essentially free speed and there is not much point in working so hard on your fitness if you’re giving heaps away on aerodynamics. My first advice is to get yourself a bike fit from an expert and also explain that you’re concentrating on duathlon so they can adapt the fit to suit that kind of racing. A good time trial position also takes practice to be able to hold so in training train in that position as often as possible. Then get yourself an aerodynamic helmet and perhaps a skin suit to save yourself some more time.
Always remain positive
Always think ahead in endurance sport. You never know what is happening up the road with the other athletes. There have been so many occasions where I’ve thought the race was done and dusted but 30 seconds up the road there are a bunch of people that are in a much worse place than myself and sometimes wobbling all over the road! Duathlon is no different, it’s common that athletes run way too hard on the first run and have no power on the bike and of course are smashed on the last run, so if you have judged your race properly you should be passing people the whole way through. There is no better feeling in racing then pushing all the way to the line and passing people that have cracked, so always keep mentally strong and remain positive all the way.
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