OK, so you have decided to embark on a new challenge, and you might think to yourself, "Where do I start my training?" So first things first: Duathlon is a time-consuming sport due to the two sport disciplines, so it is important to plan and use your training time effectively.
It's a good stepping stone to start your training with a minimum of three days a week. If you can find the time to do four to five sessions, you will be more prepared going into the event.
A minimum of twelve weeks of training is required before a Duathlon race. It's good to divide your time equally between the two disciplines. However, if you find you are weaker in one area of the sport it's good to focus extra time on improving that discipline.
Duathlon Training Plan
Here is a little plan that you can follow or at least get an idea what training would be good to do. You can adjust the amount of rest time and reps according to your needs.
Running Session Ideas
- Endurance session: 1 mile or 2 mile reps with a recovery of 90 seconds. It's good to do a light jog, a minimum of three sets. You could work towards five or six sets.
- Speed session: 400m or 800m reps, between 10 and 15 sets. With a 2 min recovery light jog, this helps the muscles to stay warm and to prevent the build up of lactic acid.
Bike Session Ideas
- If you have access to a gym that has a spin bike it's often good to do your sessions indoors. This can provide a more effective training session, with cadence, meaning the amount of power you are putting through the pedals. If you choose to use this method to do your sessions it's good to have a cadence of 80. This is the speed at which you would want to race. The lower the cadence, the more power you are needing to put through the pedals. This can suggest a hill climb.
- Endurance session: 4 min reps of 10. Every minute increase the resistance (go up a gear) so you are working on a gradual hill climb, allowing you to build endurance and strength. It's good to take around a minimum of 2 mins recovery of light spin on an easy gear.
- Hill climb: 5 min reps of 8 sets again. This can be altered to the amount you feel able to do. You want to be pushing a cadence of 50 for a hill climb. This can be done seated or standing but you will build more strength doing a seated climb.
Combining the Two Disciplines Together
It's important to also combine both disciplines into one session so that your body can adapt to the quick change-over.
- 1 km run followed by a 10 min cycle and then a 1 km run. Again you can make the run and bike for however long you feel up to doing. Recovery of 2-3 mins with a light jog or spin. This can be done in a set of 4 to 8.
- One day should be used as a bike and run combined session to allow the muscles to adapt. You could do interval training, for example: 2 min run followed by 5 min cycle. It's good to do the shorter sessions fast with more sets.
More Duathlon Tips
Bike Transition Practice
If you find the time to practice a few short transitions this will greatly help you on race day as the transition is also taken into account for your overall time. You can set up a small transition area at home, where you set up your bike, helmet and bike shoes and just practice running to the bike, putting your helmet on and shoes, running with the bike for a few metres, then mounting the bike. Repeat the same procedure for dismounting.
Important: Remember to have a rest day to allow your body to recover and to avoid injury. It's good to do lots of stretching after each session and to take protein within 20 mins of finishing to speed up the recovery process. It's good to do between 2 and 3 sessions a week: 1 bike and 1 running session. In between the sessions, do a light run or cycle, or however long you desire to do.
Pre-Race Essentials and Preparation
- If this is your first Duathlon, you do not need an expensive bike to begin with. There are a number of races available for beginners that will be named Duathlon Try.
- Ensure that you have your bike checked in a cycle store, to ensure everything is running smoothly for the big day.
- Begin your carb load a week before the event so you have enough fuel in the tank.
- Allow yourself enough sleep: no less than 8 hours a night. It's good to get extra hours sleep 3 days before the event.
- Taper down the training a week before the event. Just stick to light short sessions with a few short strides to help the leg speed.
- If you are going to use any sport nutrition products on race day, ensure that you have tried them during your training, so you do not get an upset stomach.
- On race morning eat a good breakfast – porridge is a very good pre-race fuel. If the race is around lunch time it's good to eat something like a banana between 1 and 2 hours before the start.
Duathlon Race Rules
There are a few rules to the sport of Duathlon. They are all enforced for athletes' safety and to keep the race fair. The majority of the rules are related to the bike and transition.
- In the transition area you must put your helmet on first before you touch your bike. There is no cycling allowed in transition.
- You must not mount your bike until you have passed the mount bike line. This is often marked on the road and marshals are at this point to remind you. If you mount the bike before the line, time penalties will be added to your overall finish time.
- Drafting on the bike is not allowed. If you are caught drafting there will be penalty points added to your finish time. You must leave at least 3 bike lengths between you and the other rider. You have 15 seconds to pass the rider and if you don't make it you must drop back to 3 bike lengths again. You must pass the cyclist on the outside.
- You are required to keep your helmet fastened whilst on and off the bike until you have mounted your bike in transition area. If your helmet is removed before this time you will be disqualified.
Enjoy the experience and atmosphere, and remember to have fun!