I thought I'd re run here my five tips for the perfect Du from the article I wrote for Triathlon Plus magazine two seasons ago.
Get out there and get at it Duathletes
5 Tips For The Perfect Duathlon
1) Don't start too hard. The massed run start of a duathlon is like a red rag to a bull for many duathletes who all of a sudden are offered the chance to be in the lead even if just for a few seconds. However, all too often they spend the rest of the run paying for it and end up being slower overall as a result. It is a problem rarely experienced in triathlon with its swim start. For novice duathletes the start can conjure memories of school running races all over again and the nerves can get the better of you. Start calmly; measure out your effort in order to finish strongly and leave the 'lead chasers' to fade later in the race.
2) Always think ahead. Once racing, never ever look back or even think about those behind you. It’s amazing how many people focus on those behind them rather than those ahead. Looking back ruins your running form and gives hope to those behind you but more importantly it's negative. Whether you are winning or you are in last place, looking back or even just thinking about those behind you serves no purpose at all. Think of those ahead of you as tracks that you are literally eating up over time. Even if in reality you are slipping backwards, always think 'ahead'.
3)Practice your transitions repeatedly for 40 minutes. Set up a mini transition area somewhere safe and mark out an entry and exit line. Once warmed up, repeat running in, changing shoes, putting your helmet on and running out to mount your bike. Each time you exit or enter hit the lap timer on your stopwatch or have a friend time you. You only need to ride or run gently for a short distance out and back and as you do, think over what went well and what didn't in the last transition and then aim to keep getting quicker and quicker in transition during the session. For really fine improvements, see if you can film yourself doing it. You would be surprised how much 'flapping' we all do.
4) Use two pairs of trainers. To shave even more off your transition times, a duathlon specific trick is to use a separate pair of shoes for each run. That way, your second pair will be open and perfectly positioned in transition to be slipped on rather than thrown where they were left after the first run as often happens with just one pair. It goes without saying that having elastic laces in both shoes is an absolute must in order for this tactic to fully pay off.
5) Run, then bike. Going for a short, sharp run straight after a bike ride is a common add-on session for many duathletes and it should indeed be a regular part of your training but so few seem to think of going for a short run just before a ride so that you get used to riding having run already. It’s all about making sure your body isn't caught out on race day and if your body comes to expect to ride after a run then you'll be that much more efficient come race day.