Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Getting started and training for Duathlon ( including a free training program)

WHAT?
Duathlon differs from tri in that it takes a run/ bike / run  format.  It has been around as long as Triathlon and has in the past been labelled as ‘triathlon for non swimmers’ but the sport has developed into so much more than that over the last 25 years to the point where there is now an established world series and world championships at both short and long distance.
The UK has a great number of sprint Duathlons which start at around the 3k/20k/2k distance and beyond this these are the ‘classic’ distance races which are 10k/40k/5k.  Those who want to try something longer will be attracted to the Powerman world series which is effectively Duathlon’s version of Ironman and these are usually around 15k/60k/7k in distance.
Duathlon has it’s own stars and a growing number of professionals who race exclusively in ‘Du’s’ but it is also becoming increasingly popular with triathletes. British Elites Tim Don, Paul Amey, Catriona Morrison and Michelle Dillon have all won world titles in Duathlon and the GB Age Group teams have consistently been the worlds best over the last few seasons.  Duathlon’s appeal does not stop there though- every year throughout his 7 years of winning the Tour de France, Lance Armstrong competed in off road Duathlons as part of his preparation.  Those who have completed a triathlon will know the feeling of starting the final run can be likened to running with a bear on your back. Well, with Duathlon, because you have already run prior to biking the effect is greater. This time the bear has his mate hanging on to his back and he is liberally pouring treacle over your shoulder for you to run through. The feeling does go though – trust me!

WHY?
 Duathlon can form a highly beneficial part of any Triathletes training. The fact that the first run is a mass start will mean that there is a greater chance of athletes being drawn on to faster times by running alongside others. This contrasts greatly with Tri where athletes are commonly spread out and may feel like they are ‘hanging on’ during the final run.  The fact that Duathlons are run throughout the year means that they can be used as a vital racing trial in the build up to triathlon goals and they also help to extend a triathletes season by allowing competitive racing in the spring and autumn when tri’s are scarce. Triathletes who have been competeing in spring Du’s tend to enter the tri season much better prepared.  Many first timers find the final run of a Duathlon harder than in a tri and it is in overcoming this that triathletes can build their confidence in their ‘off the bike’ running which will transfer nicely into faster running in triathlon.  Of course, there are also a growing number of triathletes who try a Duathlon and never look back. The sport is now at a stage in the UK where it provides a full season in it’s own right.  Offroad duathlons with a cross country run and a mountain bike leg are now growing faster than any other area of the sport due to their simple and safe format where they are often held in closed rural settings which are devoid of traffic and these provide an excellent cross training benefit along with the additional bike handling skills to be gained from racing off-road.  

WHEN?
As Du’s tend to be organised by clubs and associations who also organise Tri’s in the warmer months it is no surprise that the majority of events are in the Spring and Autumn. However, over the last 5 years more organisers have been putting on summer Du’s and are finding they are well attended. That said, Autumn is a particularly popular time for them being when most athletes are at their fittest after a summer of training and competing and it is the time when some of the best known UK Duathlons are held.

HOW?
The kit needed for Duathlon is not that different to tri. Most events will allow any type of bike to be used so long as it is road worthy and then of course a hard-shell helmet is essential. Clothing for Duathlon can be a bit more relaxed than tri as it doesn’t have to stand up to a swim as well so many Duathletes will go for the added comfort of a pair of cycling shorts with extra padding and on top of this, most will wear socks for the entire event.   For those using clipless pedals on their bike the most common practice is to have a pair of run shoes with elasticated laces and a pair of bike shoes with velcrow straps which can be quickly changed in transition. However, some Duathletes prefer the slight time saving gained from wearing just one pair of trainers and using toe clips or a devices known as ‘platforms’ which are essentially a rigid plastic plates with a strap across them which sits on top of your pedals and when wearing trainers simulates the feel of a rigid cycling shoe beneath the foot.  Most Duathletes will, of course, fit and then remove their helmet either side of the bike leg. There is however one well known English Duathlete who likes to save a few seconds by wearing his helmet during the first run. Although this is allowed it has to be said that he does receive a fair bit of ribbing for it!   From a training perspective one of the most important aspects is preparing an athlete for running as strongly as possible ‘off the bike’ and this involves completing ‘brick’ or back to back training sessions which will simulate the feeling of the second run. Like most effective training they are no fun at all at first but as always – hard work before the race makes the race so much more fun and they will go along way to reducing the size of your Bear(s).

My pro tips:
1) Try to run off-road on soft varied terrain as much as possible. This will not only go along way to helping prevent injuries from the jarring associated with tarmac but it also helps to simulate the heavy legged feeling often associated with the second run.

2) Whenever you can when returning from a bike ride try to pull on a pair of trainers and just run. Even if it’s to the end of your road and back. 3-8 minutes is sufficient.  Eventually it will be something that your body simply expects.

3) Most people start a Duathlon far too quickly and many then fade on the first run as a result. Pace out your effort over the whole event and try to look around you for other athletes who are following a similar sensible pace. 

4) A lot can happen in 3 legs! Duathlon, just like tri, is an adventure in itself and you can and will find yourself going through bad patches. Very often, if you stick these out and keep going, trying to relax and be positive you will recover and end up feeling better. I recall the Scottish national Duathlon champs where I competed in 2005 and ran so poorly on the first run around Arthur’s Seat that I walked into transition in about 20 place ready to pull out. I suddenly thought “no- I’ll see what happens” and out of the blue I felt great on the bike and rode my way up to 3rd before running really strongly to finish on the podium. There’s a lot to be said for keeping going!   Obviously in the case of injury or illness it is always best to stop.

4 Week training programme:
I use the terms 1. Easy 2. Steady 3. Tempo 4. Hard 5. Max
DAY                Beginner  (5-7 hrs)                                      Intermediate  (8-12 hrs)

Monday
Run 40 mins Easy. Off-road is best.
90 minute steady cross country run.
Tuesday
Bike 30 mins Easy and then 20 mins Steady before warming down.
Bike 90 mins steady with 4 x 8 mins tempo/2 mins easy in middle. 
Wednesday
Gym- Conditioning and core work.
Gym- conditioning and Core work.(run there if possible)
Thursday
1 hour of continuous 10 min bike, 5 min run repeats all at easy pace.
90  mins of continuous 10 min bike , 5 min run all at steady pace after a 20 min easy Bike warm up 
Friday
Rest
1 hour steady Run.
Saturday
1 hr Steady Cross Country Run
2 hr steady Bike followed by a 40 min/  1 hr steady Run. Eat / drink well when riding.
Sunday
2 hr Steady Bike ride with a 10 min Easy run straight after. 
3 hr steady ride with the middle hour being ridden seated using only 3 biggest gears.
Monday
Gym – Conditioning and Core work
90 min cross country run concentrating on technique
Tuesday
1 hour Easy Run with 3 x 5 mins Tempo/ 2 mins easy in the middle.
Gym- Conditioning and Core work.
Wednesday
1 hour Bike with 10 mins easy and tehn ride every 5th minute hard for the whole minute. Continue up to the hour.
Run 20 mins steady before 20 mins at tempo, then Bike 20 mins tempo and 20 mins steady. Warm down well.
Thursday
45 minute steady ride with 20 mins tempo, seated in the middle. Run 10 mins steady straight after.
1 hr steady ride with 4 x 8 mins hard/ 8 mins easy in the second half and then run 10 mins tempo straight off the bike. Warm down.
Friday
Rest
Rest
Saturday
Ride 30 mins steady on a rolling circuit and then ride 30 mins in a big gear staying seated and turning smooth pedal circles, then run easy for 40 minutes in a hilly area concentrating on relaxed but fast downhill running.   
 90 minute steady Ride which includes 8-15 seated Hard hill repeats on a steep climb in the middle. Then return home and Run steady for 1 hour concentrating on maintaining an even, steady pace.
Sunday
2-3 hr ride. Easy for the first hour and then steady. Eat and drink well.
2-3 hrs bike with the last 15 mins of each hour ridden at tempo (race pace) aim for 3 of these efforts.
Monday
1 hour steady run focussing on good technique
1 hour incremental run: 10 mins easy, 10 mins steady, 10 mins tempo, 5 mins Hard, 5 mins Tempo, 5 mins Steady, 5 mins easy and warm down.
Tuesday
Rest
Rest
Wednesday
 40 min Run with 20 mins of 20 secs hard, 40 secs easy running in the middle.
90 mins – 2 hour Bike in racing position. 30 mins easy and then ride for 1 whole hour using only your 4 biggest gears and staying seated on a rolling (not too hilly) circuit. Try to maintain a steady pace and turn smooth pedal circles. Run 8-10 mins easy straight after.
Thursday
1 hour ride with 8-12  seated hard hill repeats on a steep climb in the middle and then a 20 minute steady run in which the first 8 minutes are run tempo (race pace) 
1 hour steady Run with 6 x 100m max efforts spread out throughout Then, on bike, Ride for 15 mins easy in a low gear and every 5th minute ride the entire minute in your lowest gear trying to spin as fast as possible while seated. 
Friday
Gym- Conditioning and Core work
Gym- conditioning and core work
Saturday
Simulated Duathlon – warm up and then complete 20 mins tempo run on road, 45 mins tempo bike on road and then another 20 mins tempo run off road. 
Simulated Duathlon – warm up and then complete 30 mins tempo road run, 50mins tempo bike and then 20 mins  tempo run with the last 5 mins as hard as possible.
Sunday
2-3 hour sociable ride with friends
2-3 hour sociable ride with friends
Monday
Rest
25 min easy Run on grass practicing perfect run form
Tuesday
40 min ride with 4-6 x  1 min hard 1 min easy in middle and then 20 min run with 4 x 30 secs hard/30 secs easy in middle.
40 min easy ride with 6-8 x 1 min hard 1 min easy in middle and then 20 min run with 6 x 30 secs hard 30 secs easy in middle.
Wednesday
40 min easy off road run focussing on relaxed, light and upright running 
40 min easy off road run focussing on relaxed, light and upright running 
Thursday
1 hour easy Ride with 5 second sprint accelerations out of any corners/bends.
1 hour easy Ride with 5 second sprint accelerations out of any corners/bends.
Friday
Rest.- check over all race gear and chill.
Rest
Saturday
Run 20 minutes with 3x 10 secs hard spread out.
Bike 40 mins easy with 3x 15 secs hard and Run 20 mins with 3x 8 secs hard spread out.
Sunday
                        RACE
                           RACE

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