Transitioning from the tri season to duathlon is more tricky than many athletes would anticipate. The time spent on swim sessions needs to be used up elsewhere and getting the balance of bike and run time will depend on your background and weaknesses. Duathlon is a run-dominant sport; looking at a standard distance there’s 50% more running than normal, which means a very different set of sessions. And, in many cases, it’s physically more demanding as the impact of running is greater than swimming.
The training plan here is based on the intermediate triathlete who has a foundation of training hours in the bank. Four weeks is not a large amount of time to transition seamlessly into a duathlon but as long as you’ve been training regularly through the summer, and don’t have any underlying injuries, then it’s long enough. Just like any other training plan there needs to be a balance of intensity in the training week, so some sessions focus on endurance and aerobic workouts, whereas others are interval-style sessions and focus on improving speed and power.
The most common mistake is struggling to pace the first run correctly. We feel strong going into the first run and begin to get excited by our times, but then our legs feel tired on the bike. We’re often taught to limit the use of our legs during a swim, but there’s no way out of this in duathlon, so brick sessions are easily the most important session of the week.
Using these sessions to learn what pace will allow you to bike strong is vital. Start by reducing your normal 10km race pace by 10-20secs per km and see how that feels – if you’re able to bike strong and then go out and run again you’re close to the right pace. If you struggle, then keep experimenting with the pace to find your ideal strategy. If you’re able to execute a strong second run where your pace is as close as possible to the first run, then you’ll probably overtake people!
Thanks to our 220 Triathlon Club of the Year 2017, Leeds & Bradford Triathlon Club, who let us join them at one of their brick training sessions for this feature’s pics. The category was sponsored by Skechers, so we also dropped off their prize of 20 pairs of run shoes!
Dermott’s top tips for duathlon
1. BRICK IT
Don’t neglect the importance of brick-style sessions. It’s crucial that you know what it feels like to run on tired legs, and all styles of brick are vital to a great race outcome.
2. PRACTISE TRANSITIONS
Develop your transition technique. With no wetsuit, it’s all about the changeover of footwear. Even indoor sessions should include swapping bike shoes for run shoes
3. WORK OUT RUN PACE
Many duathlons are ruined by hitting the first run too hard, so the remaining bike and run are a disaster. Use the brick sessions to establish a strong, first-run pace
4. KNOW THE COURSE
If the course includes some climbing then train on hills in the longer sessions. Make hills your friend! For a flatter course, spend time on your tri-bars in training