Du It For You

Duathlon training and racing: stories, advice, and views from the top

Guest Post: A Lost Season—Almost

By Steven Jonas, MD, MPH

As some of you know, I have been racing triathlons and duathlons since 1983. My first triathlon was on Sept. 17, 1983, at Sag Harbor, N.Y. — the second running of the Mighty Hamptons Triathlon.

My third race, as it happened, was likely the first duathlon (then called “biathlon”) ever held. It was organized by Dan Honig’s Big Apple Triathlon Club (which later became the New York Triathlon Club). It was held in the rain on a cold May day in 1984, at the old Floyd Bennet Field in Brooklyn, New York. By the end of my 35thseason, in 2017, I had finished a total of 255 triathlons and duathlons.

And man, I was really looking forward to my 36th season in 2018.

But it was not a good year, to say the least. For one reason or another, going into September of last year, I hadn’t been able to do any of the races I had on my schedule. As of mid-September, I was calling it my “lost season” —my first one ever.

What happened?

Strike One

On the day of the first event on my schedule, the New York Triathlon Club’s “March Madness” duathlon, it was cold, wet and windy. Alright, a no-go. Next was the 2018 USA Triathlon Non-Drafting Sprint Duathlon National Championships in Greenville, S.C. The night before I was supposed to fly down for the race, I was hit with an acute gastroenteritis, eventually diagnosed as a bacterial variety. Obviously, I didn’t make it to that one.

Next up, there was a flat duathlon on New York City’s Staten Island, “Patanella’s Flat as a Pancake,” in mid-June. I was ready, but it was canceled. Next was the New Jersey State Championships at Princeton, in July. I was really psyched, but for some reason I felt very weak when I woke up on race morning. Thinking it wouldn’t be wise to try my first race swim of the season in that condition, I decided not to toe the line. The New York Triathlon Club’s Central Park Triathlon, scheduled the next weekend, went by the wayside for a similar reason.

Strike Two

The next highlight of the season after the one I missed in Greenville was still ahead of me: the USA Triathlon Sprint Age-Group National Championships in Cleveland, Ohio. It featured mostly flat bike and run courses, and the swim was scheduled for a somewhat protected area of Lake Erie. A piece of cake, no? Well, no.

As it happens, since I was about 60 I’ve been getting seasick in swims that have any kind of motion in the water. I take what I like to call “my performance enhancing drug,” a prescription non-drowsy anti-nausea medication called Meclizine. It’s not on any restricted list, and it does enhance my performance in the water by helping me to not get seasick.

I went to the transition area to check-in the afternoon before the race, all ready to get going. But then I took look at the water. It looked pretty rough, but everyone was saying, “well, the wind dies down in the morning, so you ought to be fine.” Well, the problem would be that if the wind didn’t die down and I went down to the start and then decided not to race, I would have to wait around for about 4 hours to get my bike out of transition. So, another no go.

The irony was that the water was so rough the next morning that the U.S. Coast Guard (which, since they comprise an international navigable waterway, operates on the Great Lakes) asked USA Triathlon to convert the race to a duathlon. Of course, I had no way of knowing that in advance. So, another miss.

Strike Three…is he out?

The third highlight of the season was the International Triathlon Union Age-Group Sprint Triathlon Grand Final in Gold Coast, Australia. I had been looking forward to this race since I qualified for it in 2017 at in Omaha, Nebraska. But, I had a family member with a serious illness who was getting worse, so I decided at the last minute I really couldn’t be that far away for so long.

By that time, I was indeed looking at a totally lost season for one reason or another. It would be my first ever. Well, hopefully that was not to be. I was scheduled to do the Special Olympics of New Jersey’s One More Tri—racing the sprint duathlon—in Asbury Park, New Jersey, on September 16.

As August turned to September, I thought: if I don’t get injured between now and race day; if it doesn’t rain; and if my family illness situation doesn’t deteriorate further, I will be there. And if so, that would mean that my season would be very short, but not completely lost.

In my next column in this space, I’ll tell you what happened. I will also tell you how, in 2018, I already started planning for 2019 so that—barring any circumstances beyond my control—what happened in 2018 wouldn’t happen again.

** A version of this column originally appeared on the USA Triathlon blog, Talking Tri-/Duathlon for Ordinary Mortals®: A Series, (No. 51, 2018/03), and is used with permission.

2018 marks Dr. Steve Jonas’ 36thseason of multisport racing. He began the season with a total of 255 dus and tris. He is a member of USA Triathlon’s Triathlon Century Club and is in the 90’s for duathlon. He has raced up to the Ironman distance, but now at 81, he is sticking to the sprints in both duathlon and triathlon.

Steve is a prolific author of books on multi-sport racing. His first (originally published in 1986) was The 2nd Ed. (New York: W.W. Norton, 2006) is still in print. In 2012, he published a book exclusively devoted to duathlon: Duathlon Training and Racing for Ordinary Mortals®: Getting Started and Staying with It (Guilford, CT: Globe Pequot Press/FalconGuides, 2012). All of his books on multi-sport are available at Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com. He is also long-time writer for various multisport periodicals, including the USA Triathlon Blog. He very happily joined Du It For You in 2016.

Do you need a space alien aero helmet for duathlon?

Marvin Martian

If you want to shave 30 to 60 seconds per hour off your duathlon time, the aerodynamically obsessed say to invest in an aero helmet. An aero helmet smooths the airflow from the front of your head over your back, making you slice through the wind a little bit easier.

But to get those time savings, the helmet has to fit properly for your riding style and bike position. The long-tail helmets, like the Rudy Wingspan (which I have, purchased at a big discount on eBay), work great if you ride in a super-aero position with a flat back and your head positioned just so. (Which I don’t.)

Why? Because the tail has to effectively sit on your back for max aero benefits. If you look down at your Garmin every five minutes or ride with your head tilted to one side, you lose most of the aero benefits. Suddenly, the helmet’s tail becomes a sail. You don’t want a sail in your race.

Rudy Project Wingspan Aero Triathlon Time Trial Helmet Helmet – Black/White/Silver Matte – Unisize – Men’s & Women’s

Rudy Wingspan

 

 

 

 

 

Another downside: lack of breathability. In a hot race, you have little ventilation, sort of like riding in a car with the windows rolled up. And if you travel to races and plan to ride in the days pre- or post-race, you’ll have to either pack a road helmet or ride around wearing that silly helmet.

The new TT helmets

To mitigate many of the downsides to long-tailed space alien aero helmets, helmet manufacturers started issuing lids without a tail. Using computer technology to analyze airflow, helmet experts found ways to produce comparable aerodynamic benefits without a tail.

These newer helmets still smooth airflow over the head. They also help reduce drag in crosswinds caused by long tails. And they eliminate drag caused by neck fatigue or Garmin obsession. Bonus: they don’t look as silly when you’re on a sightseeing recovery ride the day after a race.

Here are a few new aero helmets that have gotten positive reviews. Since I haven’t worn them, or reviewed them, I’ll leave it to you to do your own research.

Giro Air Attack Aero Road Helmet – 2018 MEDIUM BLACK

Giro Air Attack

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rudy Project Boost 01 With Optical Shield Titanium Matte – Large

Rudy Project helmet

 

 

 

 

 

POC Cerebel, Cycling Helmet for Racing, Navy Blue, M

POC Helmet

 

 

 

 

 

 

Giant Rivet TT

Giant Rivet TT helmet

 

 

 

 

 

Lazer Wasp Air Tri

Lazer Wasp TT helmet

 

 

 

 

The poor man’s TT helmet

If you aren’t worried about a few extra seconds or don’t want to spend a bunch of money on another helmet, you *could* tape the vents in your road helmet. (I’ve done this.) The forums say you’ll get at least a fraction of the benefits of an aero helmet. Maybe you’ll get some funny looks, but so what?

What’s your favorite helmet? Give us your pick and why you like it in the comments below!

Duathlon training plan: Here’s what to du

Alistair Eeckman Powerman Panama

This is the time of year when many of us start ramping up training for our first duathlon or triathlon of the year. To get there in the best possible shape, it’s wise to follow a plan.

Whether you create your own training plan, download a generic plan or get a custom plan from a duathlon coach, a training plan keeps you accountable. At minimum, it ensures you will do some mix of speed, tempo, endurance and recovery.

However, just like there’s a shortage of duathlon races, we have a shortage of dedicated duathlon coaches. (Are you a duathlon coach? Tell us about you in the comments below!)

With that in mind, you may decide to self-coach until you find a good fit. You may also need to self-coach for budgetary reasons. Or, maybe you’ve been around the block a few times and know enough about training principles to write your own plan. I know high level athletes that coach themselves, and athletes that work with a coach. Choose what’s best for you and your life.

If you’re relatively new to duathlon, or you need a duathlon refresher, here are a few general training tips to keep in mind. I’ve also included links to resources to help you develop a plan that works for you.

Because I’m not a certified coach, I don’t want to give you an 8- or 10-week plan based on my experience. If you saw my own training calendar, which is often pretty intense and changes often due to work demands, you’d understand why!

Get used to running off the bike.

Become familiar with the brick. Brick refers to a workout that incorporates more than one discipline. I like to think it refers to what your legs feel like when running hard off the bike.

Incorporate a variety of brick sessions into your training plan. Start with easy bike-run and run-bike workouts and build up to bricks with portions of the bike and run at or near race pace. Du at least one brick per week. More if you can.

Practice transitions.

Mastering this one skill helps you save precious seconds off your total time without extra training. Duathlon transitions are relatively simple because you don’t have to shed a wetsuit.

Find an empty parking lot or some other safe spot and practice running into an imaginary T1 and T2, switching shoes and taking on/putting off your helmet quickly. I usually practice for about 15 minutes after or in the middle of a recovery ride. I also time myself to track my progress.

Dial in nutrition.

For any distance duathlon, figure out your optimal prerace meals. For standard-distance (10K-40K-5K) and longer, also figure out your optimal fueling strategy during the race.

Over the years, I’ve learned I can manage with Skratch Labs and a gel during standard distance dus. For anything longer, I switch to Gu Roctane (more calories) and more gels.  Mind you, I’m efficient and only 105 pounds, so I don’t need as much as a 170-pound dude.

Dial in a nutrition plan that gives you energy to last the distance.

Incorporate bike and run intervals.

To run and ride faster you have to practice running and riding faster. Makes sense, right? If you’re new to both, start with 4-6×100-meter strides at the end of your runs and some short pickups on the bike. Progress to more structured and longer intervals.

Ride aero.

In a duathon, more often than not you’ll be riding on your own in the aero position. As race day nears, ride your race bike more often and du your training sessions in the aero position. Use your aerobars as much as possible. The more you use them in training, the more comfortable you’ll be on race day.

Duathlon training plan resources

Elite duathlete Albert Harrison is a Level 2 USATF coach. Steve Lumley, a UK-based coach, has coached multiple Powerman athletes. As a bonus, he also hosts a training camp in beautiful Majorca.

For lists of generic downloadable plans, both paid and free, check out:

Eric Schwartz, Duathlon.com (outdated website; training plans still relevant)

The5KRunner

London Duathlon

Training Peaks (multiple plans by Phil Mosley and others. Some include email access to coach)

Buy Steve Jonas’s book for the fundamentals and Gale Bernhardt’s book for training specifics.

What are your plans for 2019? How du you plan to du it? Let us know in the comments below!


Planning your 2019 season? Set S.M.A.R.T. goals

dart board

As one year closes and another one starts, many athletes start planning their 2019 racing season. (If they haven’t already.) That short-list of A races may come with goals: set a marathon PR, get an age-group win, qualify for the Duathlon World Championships.

As you imagine your best year ever, review your goals. Are they S.M.A.R.T.? Commonly used in the business world, S.M.A.R.T. goal-setting ensures your goals aren’t just fuzzy someday ideas. They’re goals that bring results.

Here’s how to set S.M.A.R.T. goals, retooled for athletes: single-sport and multisport.

Specific

Set specific goals. Instead of, “I should drink more water,” try, “I will drink at least eight 8 oz. glasses of water per day.”

For your race plan, that might look like this:

• I plan to compete in at least three local duathlons this year.
• I will start training for the Quicksilver 50K in March 2019.
• I will qualify for Powerman Zofingen 2020.
• I will replace the batteries in my PowerTap pedals.

(Yes, those are a few of my 2019 goals and one task.) And notice the affirmative language. Will, not should or maybe or try. Remember the wise words of Yoda: There is no tri. Only du or du not. (play on words is mine!)

Measurable

How will you track your goal? How will you know you’ve accomplished your goal? If you plan to run your first half marathon, you can track your training. You’ll know you’ve achieved your goal when you cross the finish line.

If your goal is to raise your FTP by 20 watts by June, you’ll know you’re on track by performing a 10- or 20-minute FTP tests. (Here’s a book about training with power.) You’ll know you’re there via a test in June and/or with a time trial on the roads.

The goal of “get faster on the bike” is less specific and measurable, and therefore less effective.

Achievable

Set challenging but achievable goals. In 2005 and 2006, I ran the Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Half Marathon in 1:38 and change. For 2007, I wanted to best that time. I settled on sub-1:36. I didn’t know if I could hold a faster pace for 13.1 miles, but I thought if I put in the work, maybe. I finished in 1:34:32.

Had I set my goal at sub-1:20, my mind would have said, “no f     ing way.” Set goals that get you excited, but aren’t rooted in fantasy. I know I’ll never race fast enough to get a pro card, so it would be silly to set that as a goal. To aim for All-American in my age group is challenging, but realistic with dedicated training.

Relevant

Choose goals that matter to you. You’re investing 10, maybe 15 hours a week into your sport(s). Set goals that you’re passionate about.

Don’t set a goal just because your riding partner set the goal. Even if you want to beat him in a race for the first time ever, don’t set “beat Jim” as your goal. Keep your goals focused on your own performance. Consider sailing past him in the second run of a duathlon an added benefit.

Timely

Similar to Specific, make sure your goals have a time frame. “I will do x by x date.” Setting a time-specific goal increases the likelihood you’ll achieve it. It also helps you stay on track along the way.

Races are naturally time-bound, which is why they’re popular entries on athletes’ goal lists.

According to U.S. News & World Report, only 20 percent of people who make New Year’s resolutions stick with them past February. Be like these outliers and set SMART goals for your 2019 racing season.

What are your goals for 2019? Let us know in the comments below!

(Photo courtesy of Richard Matthews, Flickr)

Exclusive: Q&A with USA Triathlon Duathlon Committee

Duathlon is the second-most populous sport governed by USA Triathlon (USAT). Yet, we represent less than 10% of its membership. Of USAT’s nearly 500,000 members, somewhere between 21,000 and 36,00 compete in duathlon.

In 2000, the USAT Board of Directors realized our small-but-passionate group of run-bike-run athletes warranted a Duathlon committee. For nearly 20 years, a revolving group of committed volunteers has worked hard on our behalf to support and grow the sport.

Duathlon Committee Cochair Dave Lasorsa agreed to answer a few questions about the Duathlon Committee, how it functions and its plans for 2019 and beyond. Lasorsa addresses many of the concerns I’ve heard in Duathlon Town Halls, on social media and in “real life” conversations. It’s worth the read.

I welcome your comments below. If you have questions, please also respond in the comments section. I’ll “du” my best to get them answered.

DuItForYou: The USAT site mentions the duathlon committee refined its mission in 2008. What is that mission?
DL: Starting in 2008, the Duathlon Committee began the creation of a Duathlon Master Plan. The mission of the Duathlon Committee is best described by the opening paragraph of the plan:

“The USA Triathlon Duathlon Committee was formed in an effort to grow the sport of Duathlon throughout the United States. Led by Committee Chair Tonya Armstrong (now co-chaired with Dave Lasorsa) and assisted by USAT staff liaison Tim Yount, the Committee works to implement best practices for the sport, innovates new and creative ideas to reach a wider audience, and is a voice for Duathletes nationwide.”

The plan is constantly being revised and in fact we are currently in the process of modifying the Mission Statement. One key point is that the Committee provides recommendations to USAT but is not involved in its decision-making.

How are committee chairs and committee members selected?
We currently have 14 members of the Committee, plus Tim Yount, acting as our liaison with USAT and Keri Serota, serving as the USAT National Board liaison. Members are chosen by invite from current members and from those who have approached USAT, asking to volunteer.

All members go through a series of interview questions, with USAT having the final decision on acceptance. Since the Committee serves as a voice for athletes nationwide, we strive to have representation from every USAT Region. Tonya Armstrong and Dave Lasorsa are the current Co-Chairs, although tasks are usually divided up into Sub Committees, each with their own lead.

How often does the committee meet?
We teleconference at least once per quarter with the entire Committee, although some of the more challenging tasks (such as choosing Duathletes of the Year) require weekly, sometimes daily conversations within the Subcommittees. Emailing and calls between members are done as the need arises, although rarely a week goes by without some topic being discussed.

Our most important event is the annual meeting held at Nationals, usually the day before racing. Here we set the priorities for the year and finalize topics for the Town Hall Meeting, held the last day of racing. Finally, quarterly reporting is done to keep all members and the USAT informed on the progress of our Action Items (see below).

What do you talk about?
The Committee responds to requests by USAT, as well as athletes, so the topics can vary. In the past we have worked on the Duathlon Series, distribution of duathlon grants, a sounding board for National Championship site selection and the recommendations for Duathletes of the Year (DOY). The DOY selection is particularly long, tedious work and the subcommittee responsible for this spent days (and many nights) combing through hundreds of well qualified athletes to narrow down the list to what we felt were the best of each category.

In the past we have set priorities for the Committee to strive for in the coming year. This year we formalized the process with the identification of Action Items—those areas where we felt we could best put our resources into helping grow the sport. These items currently are the backbone of our discussions.

What is the committee’s plan to grow the sport?
At the end of 2017 we identified the following goals or “Action Items” to pursue for 2018 and 2019:

  • Du50. Based on the success of the Tri60 program, we are engaged with USAT on expanding the number of venues to offer a Du50 program. We hope this will work well for those fitness centers and Ys that may not have access to a pool, but that can host an indoor Du50 (30-minute bike/20 minute run). We have a goal of 8-10 events in 2019 (although the organizational goal is five events).
  • Social Media. We are creating a Facebook page specifically for Duathlon, “All things Duathlon” and hope to launch it in the coming months. We intend this to be a place where athletes can discuss such topics as upcoming races, training tips, nutrition, and engage in constructive conversation on the status of the sport.
  • Duathlon E-Flyer. This will be an online advertisement for Race Directors. We hope it will be something that duathlon race directors can place on their sites and even consider placing in packets if budgets support it.
  • Kid’s Events at Nationals. In the past we have encouraged Race Directors to add more youth and novice races into their events, as well a relay division, to drive interest by creating a more family-friendly atmosphere and hopefully attract more athletes into the sport. We are setting an example by adding a youth fun run to Nationals at Greenville, to be held Friday April 11th.
  • Great Grandmaster Category for Duathlete of the Year. The number of older athletes in this sport is increasing. For 2018 and beyond, we are recognizing this this by adding a category in the DOY award for females 65+ and males 70+.

The Subcommittee Leads for each of these Action Items submit quarterly reporting on the status of progress. In 2019 we will evaluate these and decide what new Action Items to undertake.

Duathlon is the second-largest sport under USAT’s umbrella. How has participation changed over the past few years? I’m encouraged that the nationals in Greenville, SC this year had record participation. But I’ve also heard reports of a gradual, slow decline.
Duathlon saw tremendous growth in the late 80s and early 90s with the Coors Light Series and up to 2004 with the Dannon Duathlon Series. These races attracted thousands of athletes.

Yes, the sport did show decline in numbers after those years, with the rise of other endurance and multisport events. In 2008, USA Triathlon sanctioned 400 duathlons in 48 states. In the years that followed, USAT sanctioned 441 events in 2009 and 475 events in 2010. Since 2011 the number of events sanctioned by USAT held steady between 610 and 660 events, although 2017 did see an anomaly with only 541 events.

Since 2012, the number of athletes competing in duathlon has fluctuated between 21,000 and 36,000 per year. Nearly a decade ago, the 2009 and 2010 Nationals in Richmond had 1700 and 1805 athletes while last year’s Nationals had great attendance with 990 athletes. Finally, the Team USA at World Championships is typically one of the largest of all countries. We are encouraged by this participation and hope, with well-planned and ideally-located races, we can attract those kind of numbers in the future.

What are the Duathlon Committee’s short and long term goals?
The overall long-term goal remains to grow the sport. To meet this, the Master Plan identifies the following:

  • Support more duathlon events nationwide by encouraging Race Directors to piggyback with existing events.
  • Increase the number of athletes that participate in duathlon through strategic positioning of the sport at running and cycling events (expos, registration booth, packet pickup, etc.).
  • Create new education platforms to train existing race directors and triathletes on the sport of duathlon.
  • Promote the sport of duathlon to single sport specialists (Triathletes, Cyclists, Runners).
  • Create alliances and fruitful collaborations with community organizations (i.e. local sporting organizations, health centers, recreation facilities, YMCA, therapy groups, hospitals).
  • Look at different race formats to keep the sport fresh (i.e. Formula-1).
  • Create high-end deliverables for USAT development staff to secure corporate partnerships/sponsorships.
  • Look at Collegiate Duathlon options as extensions for growing the sport.
  • Create duathlon high school clubs similar to existing High School triathlon programs (of which 130 exist).
  • Encourage Team in Training (Leukemia and Lymphoma Society) models that exist for running/cycling and related disciplines as arms of recruitment.

There’s a “chicken and the egg” issue in duathlon. People interested in getting into duathlon have a hard time doing so because there are very few races compared to triathlon. Race directors don’t put on duathlons—and don’t often include them as a choice in triathlon events—because of low participation. How do we stop spinning in circles here?
While triathlons are still the dominant multisport race, we are seeing more Race Directors hold “Festival Events” where a variety of multiport options are offered, such as Aquathons, Aquabikes, Novice, as well as sprint, standard and long distance triathlons and duathlons.

Individually, Committee members have reached out to Race Directors in their regions, encouraging them to add more duathlons to their triathlon events. I think you will see more of these combination events, since the cost is relatively small to add a duathlon to a triathlon.

One of the positions that we take with Race Directors is that the time to do a 1.5km swim is nearly equal to a 5km run. Essentially that means you can do both at nearly the same time if you want to reduce the footprint and save time…so that athletes then enter the same bike and run courses with more ease. Many have done this successfully. We just need to do a better job of explaining how those that do this, having done so with great success.

Finally, the addition of the draft-legal sprint category to Nationals and World’s opens up duathlons to a new type of racing, attracting a wider audience.

What is being done to encourage more elites to compete in duathlon?
The Duathlon Committee has not historically spent much time on elite athlete recruitment although doing so would present some challenges for us because the ROI is probably too small. We are charged with the task of growing the sport and leveraging the contacts and resources that we have.

With that said, if we were to help USAT in this capacity, our focus would be on the creation of a recruitment and talent identification plan similar to USAT’s current Collegiate Recruitment Program that Barb Lindquist has successfully created and developed. You should note that the Powerman Series will return to the U.S. in 2019, with several races on the calendar, and a healthy purse. Powerman Zofingen still remains the premier long-course World Championships. In 2018, the U.S.’s Albert Harrison placed 6thin the elites for this race.

Why doesn’t USAT promote duathlon in its marketing efforts? Can something be done to change that? For example, I see consistent social media posts mentioning triathlon and triathlon only. I see many articles on the USAT site related to triathlon training. Duathlon? Rarely. If they have an interest in growing duathlon, wouldn’t it make sense to give it some attention? Ditto to poor Aquabike and Aquathon.
There is a very delicate balance with USAT between what drives their bottom line and ways that duathlon can help create supplemental/incremental revenue for USAT. We won’t change the model, which supports what 95% of USAT constituents support, but we can certainly create some very positive and forward-thinking additions to what they are doing to drive more business.

As noted previously, the Committee recognizes this as a major issue and is trying to expand the sport’s exposure by creating a Duathlon-specific Facebook page. In the past we have created USAT flyers focusing on Nationals, and provided these in RD goodie bags. This year we have created a Duathlon “E-Flyer”, which can be used for any RD employing an online goodie bag, and/or use with advertisements.

We are also going to be having discussions this next year with USAT on how they can create additional soft goods with duathlon as the leading brand, produce additional giveaway items for members like stickers, and support duathlons with soft good purchase options through USAT partners (signage for example).

Part of the issue is finding people who can contribute good duathlon-specific articles to USAT Magazine, Triathlete [Ahem: Here’s an oldie but goodie from yours truly. — Ed.] and local race publications. Maybe this is a good “Action Item” the Committee can take up in 2019?

“I feel the strongest asset we have is the dedicated athletes who show up to their local races, support their Race Directors, and encourage them to continue.” — Dave Lasorsa

What can we, as duathletes, do to help keep the sport strong?
I feel the strongest asset we have is the dedicated athletes who show up to their local races, support their Race Directors, and encourage them to continue. Reach out to your local fitness center, parks and recreation department, hospital, YMCA, Chamber of Commerce, high school, etc. about hosting a duathlon. Many of these local organizations are looking for events to dovetail in with a community event (i.e.,  4th of July and Memorial Day celebrations), and want to attract people to stay for a weekend, adding to hotels and local retailers.

Additionally, if every duathlete promised to bring one new athlete to an event in 2019, that would double the duathlon population in one year. Imagine how fast that would grow the sport.

One area of additional focus might be to build on those duathlon markets that are currently drawing well for us. If we did that with a laser focus, these markets could essentially drive the sport for us, and would support our initiatives of strategically growing the sport both in athlete participation and event numbers.

Imagine what the Race Director response would be for those races where participation increases double digits? It would be hard to NOT move on the idea of a duathlon as part of the growth continuum. Key will be for this slow build to gain momentum, which we know is not always seen as a viable option for Race Directors who are trying to build their businesses.

Anything else you’d like to add?
Duathlon remains an active, popular sport. Whether it’s a triathlete seeking early and late-season racing, a novice trying to break into multisport, or a serious competitor competing at Nationals and Worlds, the sport is available anyplace with a road (no water needed) and in many areas of the country, year-round.

Duathlon is a great multisport for people who are not as competitive swimming or just don’t like to swim. The Duathlon Committee is an all-volunteer organization that feels it can contribute to keeping this sport strong. Most importantly we have the full support of the USAT National office staff. They allow us to integrate our desires with their day-to-day operations.

Thank you for the opportunity to answer some of these questions and I hope to see you at the next race!

Dave Lasorsa
Co-Chair, Duathlon Committee

…USAT Chief Operating Officer Tim Yount contributed to this report.

The Only Duathlon Holiday Gift Guide You’ll Need

Stumped on what to get your favorite non-swimming endurance athlete? These tidings will bring him or her great joy.

This duathlete gift guide includes stocking-stuffers, splurges and gifts in between. Add to your personal Christmas list or give to your special run-bike-run someone. Got something you’d like to add? Let us know!

Duathlon Training and Racing for Ordinary Mortals (R): Getting Started And Staying With It

duathlon training ordinary mortals

Full disclosure: author Steven Jonas, MD, is a guest contributor to Du It For You. He also wrote this definitive guide to duathlon. In it, he covers everything from the basics, such as what the sport involves, to training principles for duathlons of varying distances.

Training Plans for Multisport Athletes: Your Essential Guide to Triathlon, Duathlon, Xterra, Ironman & Endurance Racing

Gale Bernhardt wrote this multisport guide 11 years ago, but its principles remain relevant today. Her book provides training plans for triathlon, duathlon and Xterra, as well as tips for getting faster at each.

Zoot Men’s Ultra TT 7.0 Running Shoe,Safety Yellow/Green Flash/Black,10.5 M US

zoot ultra

Zoot is a market leader in triathlon gear, so naturally they have a shoe made for triathlon, and by extension, duathlon. The Ultra TT has race-friendly features such as elastic laces and little loops to help you pull the shoes on and off. And the seriously bright color means you’ll easily find them when you come into T2. At 8-ish oz., these aren’t the shoe for a competitive athlete that races in super-light flats. But if they prefer long-course dus, or they don’t care about shaving an extra two ounces off their footwear, this could be a good choice.

DEFEET Woolie Boolie Baaad Sheep Socks, Charcoal/Neon Pink, Medium

Woolie Boolie Bad Sheep Charcoal/Pink

Unless you live in Miami, it’s cold right now. These wool socks help keep feet warm(er) on the bike. They might still freeze; they just won’t freeze as much. Cute too!

Scratch Labs Sport Hydration Drink Mix

Scratch is my favorite electrolyte drink. It’s made with all-natural ingredients, with the right balance of carbs, sugar and salt. It keeps me hydrated and keeps my GI system from rebelling on the second run.

linden & true coffee

Coffee is an athlete staple, as necessary as oxygen to some of us! Don’t let your favorite duathlete drink crappy coffee. Get them a bag of beans roasted by athletes/coffee freaks. Pro athletes Desi and Ryan Linden and Ben and Sarah True teamed up to form this low-key speciality coffee company. I’ve tried two of their roasts and they are heavenly. They even have four holiday packages. I’ll take The Rudolph please!

The Stick Marathon Stick

Roll out those kinks before or after a workout with the Stick. This handy, effective massage tool is a favorite among runners and cyclists. Bonus: unlike a foam roller or a massage therapist, you can fit it in your gym bag.

Wahoo Kickr Smart Trainer

wahoo kickr

I told you I’d include a splurge! Here it is! The 2018 Wahoo Kickr Smart Trainer is reportedly the Cadillac of indoor bike trainers. You can “climb” with it; connect it to your phone or GPS device; measure speed, distance, power and cadence; and connect it to Zwift and TrainerRoad. They say it’s whisper quiet. Is any trainer whisper quiet?

Lastly, give your runner, cyclist and/or duathlete friends a FREE gift that keeps on giving all year long—a subscription to this blog! Plug in their email address where it says “follow blog via email” and they’ll get notified every time there’s a new post.

Happy December!

 

6 things you should “du” in the off season

winter cycling

photo courtesy of Edmund White

Most endurance athletes finish their season by October or November, with no significant racing until next spring. What you do during those long winter months can make or break your next block of training.

Train hard all the way through and you risk going into 2019 injured, fatigued or overtrained. Sit on your rear all winter and you risk starting the next season overweight and void of all gains you made.

There is a happy medium! Here are a few suggestions to help you maintain your fitness during the off season and start your next training block stronger than ever.

Take a well-earned break.

Did you finish your year at the ITU Multisport National Championships in Miami in November? Or with the New York City Marathon? Celebrate your victory and take some well-earned time off.

Take a couple weeks off. Really off. Let your body and mind rest from the stresses of hard training and racing. Do some yoga if that’s your thing, get a massage, sit in the sauna and do small bits of activity other than running and cycling. Enjoy your newfound free time with your friends and significant other.

After your R&R time, spend a couple weeks doing light activity. Check with your coach on what’s appropriate for this phase.

Take care of the little things.

Did you tough out the end of the season with tight hamstrings, a painful heel or a fussy IT band? Now is the time to get it checked out. Visit a chiropractor, a physical therapist and/or an athlete-focused massage therapist to work out the kinks. Do those silly exercises the PT prescribes.

I’m doing this myself to address some issues with my running form. Over the past few months, a couple friends pointed out I run with a “limp” or a “hitch.” I haven’t been injured and wasn’t aware I was running lopsided. I’ve had two visits so far with an excellent PT—Ada Jauregui of B.I.O. Consultants—with positive results. I have exercises to improve hip stability, back flexibility and balance. I had no idea my balance was so crappy!

Get stronger.

It’s my belief duathletes, triathletes and other endurance athletes don’t spend enough time in the gym. Hang out with the gym rats during the off season and build strength you can use come spring.

It’s common for endurance athletes to have a weak posterior chain. If that’s you, focus on that. Again, consult with a trainer or your coach to determine what’s best for you (because I am neither). Here are some very general tips if you haven’t picked up a weight in a while:

• Start with bodyweight exercises or lighter weights and higher reps

• Transition to heavier weights and lower reps.

• Focus on single leg exercises

• Think sport-specific

• Choose free weights over machines

• Don’t ignore your core. (You can do core exercises every day if you really want to.)

Mix it up.

If you’re a dedicated road rider, do some mountain biking in the off season. Off-road riding is a great way to improve your bike handing skills and, depending on where you live, get in some killer hill-climbing.

If I lived in a colder climate, I would take up cross-country skiing. It gives you a full body workout and gives you a ridiculous VO2 Max workout without impact. If you can find one, try a biathlon! So many people confuse duathlon with biathlon, might as well see what it’s all about.

cross country skiing

photo courtesy of will_cyclist, Flickr

Don’t ignore speedwork.

After your R&R phase, and after a base phase (consult with your coach on how long this should be), get some speed back in your legs with short intervals. I follow Jack Daniels’s philosophy of starting with a phase of shorter reps and longer recoveries—200s and 400s on the track, for example.

Short reps help you build running economy. They also give you an opportunity to think about and improve running form. You can also do short reps on the bike—think 30-second to two-minute intervals.

Coaches have different philosophies of how to approach this transitional phase. Personally, I keep a little bit of intensity in my plan year-round. How much and what depends on many factors: the races on the calendar, my fatigue level, the weather, and my workouts from previous weeks.

Du some fun races.

A lot of competitive cyclists I know use the off season to do a century ride with their friends. Follow this lead and sign up for a trail race, a century ride (or metric century) or a mountain bike event. It’s a great way to enjoy your favorite sports without getting caught up in the competitive mindset.

What do you “du” in the off season? Share your tips in the comments below!

Why Duathlon is the perfect multisport for beginners (and anyone else)

SF Double

Are you a runner or cyclist interested in trying something new? Or have you recently started exercising regularly and want a challenge outside the gym?

Many budding athletes turn to triathlon as their first multisport event. But nearly as many say they either struggle with or just really don’t like to swim. More skip multisport altogether because they can’t fit in the time to swim, don’t have access to a pool and can’t afford all the extra gear.

There is a way to get your feet wet (figuratively speaking!) in multisport without sticking a toe in the water.

Duathlon.

What is a duathlon?

Duathlon is a run-bike-run event, with distances ranging from 2-mile runs and 7-mile rides to longer events that incorporate 10K runs and 25-plus mile bike rides. It’s like triathlon without the swim. Racing Underground has a good primer on the sport. Check it out.

Don’t you have to ski?

No! That’s biathlon, a totally different event that involves XC skiing and shooting.

Why is duathlon good for beginners?

Let me count the ways!

You don’t have to swim.

I like the water. I like splashing around in it, floating in it, even kinda-sorta swimming in it. But I’m no good at swimming laps. To improve, I would have to spend money on lessons and spend regular time in the pool.

To compete in triathlon, I’d have to invest in a wetsuit (or rent one for each race), some good goggles and a swim cap. I’d have to spend a time each week fighting traffic to drive to a pool, swimming, and driving again. Who has that kind of time? I don’t. I’d rather spend my free time on sports I like—cycling and running.

Duathlon is more affordable and time-efficient. You can run or ride right from your front door. Or, if you don’t live in an area where it’s safe to exercise outside, you can do both at the gym.

It’s better for your health.

How many times have you heard about triathlons canceling the swim due to polluted water, hazardous bacteria, or strong currents? In other cases, athletes struggle with hypothermia, heart palpitations, or injuries from getting kicked by aggressive swimmers.

International events organized under ITU must adhere to water quality standards. You can read all about the risks and water quality standards here.

Locally, health departments aren’t required to post warnings about bacteria unless levels exceed EPA standards. And don’t forget to consider pollution caused by fracking, oil spills and human inconsiderateness.

Don’t put yourself at risk of some nasty illness or infection. Stay warm and run.

You can fit it into your life.

Like I mentioned earlier, if I had to factor swimming into my training schedule, it would cut into my job. My career is more important to me than flopping around in the pool, so I don’t waste my time on swimming.

Instead, I’m up by 4:30 a.m. to run, ride the bike or a little of both before work. For you, it may be easier to train after work, eat a healthy dinner and chill out a little before bed.

If it’s logistically not possible to get out on your road bike before or after work, put in some quality time on the spin bike at the gym. You’ll get aerobic benefits and generally work the same muscles as you would on a road bike. You can also invest in a bike trainer. These handy devices let you ride your road bike indoors.

You can find good, reasonably affordable trainers for a few hundred bucks. Search on Craigslist for even better deals. Because they take up space in the closet, and because so many people give up on using them, you’ll find a lot of used trainers for sale.

The races are less complicated.

For a triathlon, you’d have to pack up stuff for three sports the morning of the race, including a bike, a wetsuit and various shoes and clothes. In T1, you’ll have to manage slipping out of a sticky wetsuit and goggles, into bike shoes, helmet and whatever else you need. After the race, when you’re tired and stiff, you’ll have to gather up all the stuff, pack it back into your car and lug it into your house. To accomplish this, you might need a bike rack. Or a bigger car.

Why not keep it simple? With duathlon, you only need stuff for two sports. Because I have a smaller-frame bike (I’m 5’4″) I can fit my bike into the trunk of my Honda Civic. I fit everything else into a duffel bag and go. Admittedly, standalone running events are way easier to manage, but duathlon is also pretty low on the hassle factor.

If you don’t have a bike, you can rent one for $35 to $50/day or borrow one. In transition, all you really have to worry about are the shoes and the helmet.

duathlon transition

This is all I have in transition. I’ve got my helmet balanced on the handlebars, running shoes on my feet and sunglasses on throughout.

You don’t need fancy stuff.

Look at the lead groups in any triathlon or duathlon and you’ll see them hunkered down on amazing machines. Those high-end time trial bikes can cost more than a new Honda Fit!

Don’t be intimidated by those pricey, beautiful machines. You can perform quite well on a regular road bike. If all you have is a hybrid or mountain bike, use it! The power in your legs and your lungs account for 95 percent of your speed on the bike. Some races even have categories for fat tires and old-school setups (regular bikes, no aerobars).

Smaller fields.

Duathletes are a friendly bunch. With a few exceptions  (which you’ll find in any race), you’ll find a supportive community that wants you “du” well and come back.

You’ll also enjoy a low-key atmosphere. It’s way less intimidating to do your first du with a group of 80 than a field of 3,000. (And no one will kick you in the head!)

My first race was the “Du For Fun” duathlon in the middle of nowhere, northern California. There were 50 people maybe in the race.

Du for Fun

My first duathlon in June 2012. That I finished first female made it fun too!

Not knowing any better, I went out like a rocket. Near the end of the second run, I was spent! But I had a great time!

I loved the challenge, the friendly atmosphere, and the opportunity to combine two sports I loved—running and cycling—into one mondo event. I competed in more duathlons after that, including local and regional races and national and world championships. I became part of a close-kit community that’s passionate about duathlon.

So. If you want to try something new remember my slogan. “Don’t just tri. Du.”

Du it for fun. Du it for you.

See you out there!

PS: Any questions about duathlon? Anything you’d like to add or share? Share it in the comments below!

Why you should “du” a duathlon this fall

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You’ve recovered from your final “A-goal” triathlon or duathlon. You’re looking forward to a lengthy off-season where you can let go of “training” mode. You may even use your gym membership.

If you love to race, it won’t take long before the urge to compete returns. Instead of waiting until spring to shake off the cobwebs, incorporate a fall duathlon or two.

Because it is the off-season, take the pressure off yourself. Don’t focus on a PR or a certain place in your age group.  Frame any off-season races as hard training days or as time to sharpen skills. Focus on improving your transition time. Improve your cornering and descending skills. Practice good running form. When the New Year hits (and it will be here before you know it!) you’ll be prepared for an even better 2019.

Fall is an ideal time for duathlon. It’s too cold to swim anyway, so why not run-bike-run? You may find, like I do, that you love the relative simplicity and challenge that duathlon brings.

Fall duathlons from coast to coast

You can find duathlons almost anywhere you can find triathlons. Some cold-weather states (Minnesota comes to mind) have even more robust duathlon scenes because, well, swimming is cold most of the year.

How do you find a fall duathlon? Search USA Triathlon‘s website for a list of sanctioned races. TriFind also has a good race calendar that lets you search by sport, state and date.

Here’s a sampling of good stuff I found:

• On the west coast, you’ve got the Catalina Island Duathlon and the Marin County Sprint or Olympic Du on November 3. Note: Prepare to shell out a whopping $155 for the Marin County sprint du or $250 for the Olympic distance. Ridiculous. On second thought, skip this.

For SF Bay Area folks, my first and only choice for an early 2019 race is Du 3 Bears on Jan. 26. Choose from a short or long course or a relay. It’s managed by Wolf Pack Events, veteran duathlete Wolf Hillesheim’s company, which hosts duathlons and runs throughout the year.

• Florida, which has lots of warm water, likes duathlon too. There’s the Bill Bone sprint du on Nov. 4, in Lake Worth, and the Half-Iron Duathlon in Miami—aka the USAT Long Course Duathlon National Championship—Nov. 11. Clermont has a sprint duathlon series that runs through November.

• Louisiana: Check out the River Roux Duathlon in New Roads, Nov. 10. Or, the Dust-buster Duathlon on Jan. 6 in Shreveport.

• If you live near Navasota, Texas, check out the Dirt in Your Shoe Du on Dec. 8. It’s short, but it has a great name!

This is just a quick scan of races across the U.S. What are your favorite fall races? Tell us in the comments below!

 

Powerman Zofingen: Race reports and updates

What’s considered the toughest and most prestigious duathlon, the ITU Long Distance World Duathlon Championships, Powerman Zofingen, took over that lovely Swiss city the first weekend of September.

On Twitter, I promised I’d compile race reports for an upcoming blog. To date, there aren’t many full reports, but I did find some good nuggets of info about this epic event.

From ITU

First, here is the official report from ITU. Switzerland and France took the wins, with Petra Eggenschwiler (SUI) claiming the women’s title and French athlete Gaël Le Bellec winning the men’s race for the third time.

Powerman Zofingen winners

Check out the full report for photos and a list of top finishers.

One thing I noticed when perusing the results (particularly in my age group): the times appear to be faster this year than last. Is the new bike course faster than the old? If anyone has insights, please share!

Here’s the profile of the 2018 bike loop, which athletes complete three times:

2018 Powerman Zofingen bike course

A view from the top

In his inaugural Zofingen race, dominant U.S. athlete Albert Harrison finished sixth in the elite men’s race with a blazing-fast 6:25:52.

He published one of the few race reports I could find, and it’s a thorough one. He starts with the training, shares his goals and continues with his thoughts on the race and USA Triathlon’s lack of support for its duathletes.

He was on TV too. A lot.

Albert Harrison 2018 Powerman Zofingen

Most inspirational athlete

One of the most inspiring tidbits I found came from the Twittersphere. Blind athlete Fernando Raino didn’t just finish Powerman Zofingen. He finished strong.

For random info about Powerman Zofingen, including its history and a general course description, check out my post from September 1.

Got anything to add re: the 2018 Zofingen ITU Powerman Long Distance Duathlon World Championships? Please share in the comments below! We’d love to hear your story.

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