BUILD THOSE BRICKS
The key to duathlon training is a weekly or fortnightly brick session. This can be: run-to-bike, bike-to-run or run/bike/run. The run/bike/run option is ideal physiological training to simulate the fatigue of biking after a fast first run and then running off a hard bike ride. It also means you can practise transitions. These sessions can be done outdoors around a measured run and bike circuit, using a run route while you bike on a turbo or even at a gym – jumping between a treadmill and stationary bike.
TRAIN WHEN TIRED
Work on strength for the second run by doing your quality runs on tired legs after a few days of hard training. In the race, have faith that the pain will ease, focus on form and find a rhythm. Everyone will be hurting, but tough it out.
PACE THE FIRST RUN
The big difference between triathlon and duathlon is, of course, the first segment of the race. Like triathletes, duathletes take a very fast start when racing. The only difference is that running is much harder on the muscles than swimming. If you run high above your calculated race pace in the first run, you’ll find yourself worthless at the start of the bike and the second run will be extremely hard. So keep in mind not to go too fast during the first run, or you’ll lose a lot more time than you could imagine.
Remember you’re going to be running and cycling so it’s worth investing in clothing you can do both in comfortably; an all-in-one tri-suit isn’t always necessary but tri-specific shorts are a great idea. Duathlons are often in the colder months but you may get warm on the first run, cool down quickly on the bike then heat up again on the second run. Try arm warmers and a cycle jersey or gilet over a tri-top with gloves in the back pocket so you can add and remove layers quickly. Having a second pair of trainers and socks in T2 if the race is wet is also something to look forward to coming off the bike!
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF DRAFTING WHEN OFF-ROAD
Unlike in age-group tri or road duathlons, a little-known rule is that drafting is allowed in most off-road duathlon events. So utilise the long straight sections where this’ll be an advantage. And expect to feel like you’re running the final leg with a bear on your back!
FUEL ON THE BIKE
Use the bike to take on any additional energy or water, and only start to really push things on the second run when you know how to pace it through to the finish.
Your body will often rebel on the second run so beat this by loosening your hips and back at the end of the bike – getting out of the saddle is a great way to do this.