Du It For You

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

Category: Duathlon Training Page 2 of 4

Duathlon: How to ace the second run

Duathlon second run

Nothing brings more lead-legged discomfort in duathlon than the dreaded second run.

After five years of duathlon racing, that bike-run transition hasn’t felt any easier. I’ve had second runs where I’ve almost threw up my drink, runs reduced to a relative shuffle and runs where—oh happy day—I ran well and passed several competitors.

With proper training, pacing and fueling, you can improve your run off the bike and cruise to a successful finish.

Master the brick

To run well off the bike you have to practice running off the bike. Incorporate at least one bike-run brick a week into your training. When you’re just starting out, don’t worry about pace. Just run.

Froome run off bike

It’s safe to say Froome didn’t practice his off-the-bike run before stage 12 of Tour de France, 2016.

As you progress, add intensity to your brick. Try a one-hour bike with the last 10 minutes at race pace, followed by a short run with the first five minutes at race pace.

Jason Digman, former head of Dig It Triathlon and Multisport Coaching, recommends what I call the “multi-brick.” After a warmup, perform three sets of one-mile run, 10-minute bike, with no recovery in between. Keep your first multi-brick at race pace plus 15 to 20 seconds. Over the course of four weeks, progress up to race pace.

Play with the distance of your run and bike intervals depending on your goal race’s length. Bonus: you get lots of transition practice!

Du second-run strides

Albert Harrison, a USA Track & Field Level 2 Coachand a USA Triathlon national champion in both the standard and long-course duathlon, recommends a set of short intervals right off the bike. Running fast right away helps your body overcome that jelly-leg feeling and—surprise surprise!—run fast off the bike.

Harrison suggests 20-second strides or 400-meter repeats faster than goal race pace. “Be careful though,” he wrote me via Twitter, “you’re more susceptible to injury while running on tired legs.”

Jesse Bauer, an elite duathlete based in Edmonton, Canada, agrees. Why? Because short, fast efforts promote a high leg cadence off the bike.

Bauer’s favorite second-run speed workouts are 200-meter repeats at faster than goal race pace, or 5x 30-seconds, followed by a 30-second walk/jog recovery, straight into a 1-2K race pace effort.

“Paid off big on the steep hill out of T2 on Friday,” he told me via Twitter, referring to the recent ITU World Multisport Championships in Fyn, Denmark, where he competed in the elite men’s standard duathlon.

If it’s early in your season or you haven’t done much stride work, build intensity gradually to avoid injury. Start with a couple sets of 30-second strides, with a full recovery jog in between.

Focus on form.

Top age-group competitor and multisport coach Suzanne Cordes keeps her focus on good form during the second run—that time when you see many runners hunched over, shuffling along or walking.

During your interval or faster running workouts, focus on how you hinge your hips, how you run tall, how you maintain good form. Think about that powerful stride when you bolt out of T2, she says.

magnet

When you settle into your second-run pace, use the magnet trick suggested by sports psychologist and Your Performing Edge author Dr. JoAnn Dahlkoetter:

Imagine your competitor has a magnet on her back. Let it pull you toward her. If there’s no one in eyesight, put the magnet on a tree or the top of a hill.

Don’t start out too fast.

Repeat: don’t start out too fast. When you’re well-rested and well-trained, it’s so easy to fly through the first run as if it’s a standalone race. Don’t. You’ll pay for it in the second run, if not on the bike.

The goal is to hit even splits—or as close to even as possible—on your first and second run. I accomplished my best races when I ran the second run pretty darn close to my first.

Endurance coach Eric Schwartz suggests the following: if your race involves two 5Ks, plan to run them about 30 to 60 seconds slower than your standalone 5K time. The faster your race pace, the less time you should add.

Digman suggests something similar. Add the distance of your run legs together and pace according to a run distance one step longer. For example, if your duathlon involves 10K of running, race according to your 10-mile race pace.

Your competitors may run away from you in the first run, but with smart pacing and training, you’ll pass them back in the end. Remember, Digman writes, “they don’t give away the medals for the first athlete into T1.”

What are your second run training tips? Let us know in the comments below!

Guest Post: Thoughts on the mental aspects of multisport racing, Part 1

winner medal

By Steven Jonas, M.D., M.P.H.

Renowned American inventor Thomas Edison supposedly said: “Genius is 1 percent inspiration, 99 percent perspiration.”

Taking “inspiration” to mean mental work, back in 1992 when I wrote the original version of this column (see my note below at the end), I thought the ratio in triathlon racing was almost the opposite (even on a very hot day) —99 percent mental work, 1 percent perspiration.

I recall reading an article in an issue of Triathlete magazine back then in which one of the original “Fabulous Four,” Mark Allen, described winning the Hawaii IRONMAN as a “mental exercise in pain management.” (The other members of the group were Dave Scott, Scott Molina, and Scott Tinley. All four are members of the USA Triathlon Hall of Fame.)

Back then I noted that except for those folks at the front of the pack who are technical riders or fast swimmers, there is little physical or athletic skill involved in the primary triathlon sports: swimming, cycling and running. Left, right, left, right is the name of the game. And while we all perspire profusely on a hot day, it is not the perspiration per se that gets us through the race.

It’s our minds.

Today, while I think that’s still true for the most part, there is much more emphasis on technique in all three sports than there was back then.

For myself, as a Golden Oldie (age 81), who, as I describe myself, started out slow 35 years ago and has been getting slower ever since, it’s never been much about technique. I needed a lot of discipline and, indeed, technique in both teaching and writing in my work as an academic. I also needed it in my other sport, downhill skiing, in which I eventually became good enough to become a certified ski instructor.

In order to teach proper technique, essential to good (and safe) skiing, I had to be able to do it myself. But for our sport it’s always been to do what I do in all three sports to a) get through the course and b) not get injured, having learned just enough technique in all three sports to do just that.

Nevertheless, what is it that enables triathletes to finish, especially in the long races (whatever is a long race for you—sprint-, Olympic-, long- or ultra-distance)? Technique, for sure, to help you go as fast as you want to go, bearing in mind that you have to be able to finish the race.

But primarily, in my view, it is mental discipline, dealing with both technique and speed. It is the ability to focus, to concentrate. As well as staying with your technique, it is the ability to keep your eyes on the prize (which for most of us is finishing at or around our time objective).

It is the ability, as Mark Allen put it, to put up with the pain, to manage it, even adjust your speed to it: “I can take the pain that speeding up will bring with it.” Or, conversely, “It’s okay, I can take a minute-a-mile less on the run. It’s going to hurt a lot less and that makes slowing down a bit worth it.”

For me, much more important from the mental standpoint is knowing why you’re in the sport. Multisport racing, over time, is tough, more for the training than for the racing. To stay with it for any considerable period of time, you have to be doing it for yourself, for how you feel doing it, for how it makes you feel about yourself, for how it makes you look, to yourself, not to someone else.

If it makes you feel good, and feel good about yourself, you are going to stay with it, as tough as it is, physically, mentally and time-wise, over the long haul. If not, then you will not stay with it. Not that there is anything wrong with that. Hardly. But to stay with it, you definitely have to know why, and what are the goods, for yourself, that you are getting from the sport.

Next time, we’ll deal with some of the specifics of the mental aspects of the sport and the power of the mind.

* This column, as recently published (see below) is based in part on an article I wrote in 1992 for my then-regular column, “Triathlon for Everyman,” that appeared in the June issue of Triathlon Today!It was entitled “Some Mental Aspects of Triathloning.”

** A version of this column originally appeared on the USA Triathlon blog, Talking Tri-/Duathlon for Ordinary Mortals®: A Series,(No. 49, 2018/01), Jan. 29, 2018, and is used with permission.

2018 marks Dr. Steve Jonas’ 36thseason of multisport racing. He began the season with a total of 255 du’s and tri’s. 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 Triathloning for Ordinary Mortals®.  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.

10 international duathlons you need to “du”

Racing a duathlon in another country is a great way to explore someplace new—as a tourist as well as a runner and cyclist. If you like to keep your vacations active, plan one around an international duathlon. You’ll challenge yourself on a new course, as well as enjoy some “active recovery” experiencing local culture and cuisine.

Whether you’re looking for a long-course duathlon with a competitive field, a short, flat course to test your speed, or something hilly and scenic, somewhere in the world you’ll find a duathlon for you.

For a break from the norm, plan your next vacation around one of these 10 duathlons and duathlon series.

London Duathlon

london duathlon

Considered the world’s largest duathlon, the London Duathlonattracts more than 2,000 athletes each year. Choose from its standard distance (10K-44K-5K), go long with the ultra du (20K-77K-10K) or du something shorter with the Half Duathlon or Relay.

Expect some climbing on both the run and bike courses, all held within Richmond Park in southwest London. September 16, 2018. @londonduathlon

Winter Ballbuster

 

As if climbing Box Hill five times isn’t tough enough, you get to “du” it in November.

The longest-running, most arduous UK duathlon, Winter Ballbusterlives up to its name with a hilly 8-mile, 24-mile, 8-mile course.

Set in the Box Hill National Trust Site, in Surry, about 19 miles outside of London, the event challenges newcomers and professionals alike. “To finish the race entitles you to hold your head high,” writes Matt Baird for 220Triathlon. November 3, 2018.

Storm the Castle Duathlon

Set in Ludlow, Shropshire (that’s in England) Storm the Castlefinishes inside Ludlow Castle. Pretty cool, eh?

The 10K-33K-5K course offers plenty of climbing along the way. Why visit Ludlow? This tour guidesays it’s a beautiful foodie town with a rich history. April 2019.

Powerman International

Some of the most competitive and best-known duathlons fall under the Powermanumbrella. Du one for fun or to compete against the best in the world.

Powerman Int’l has its own rankings system, which gives you another way to qualify for the ITU Long-Distance World Duathlon Championship in Zofingen, Switzerland. Powerman also hosts the European Championships.

You can find Powermans in Germany, Denmark, Austria, Brazil, Panama and the Philippines, among other countries, including this one. Distances vary from 10K-60K-10K to 5K-30K-5K. Year-round.

Krusnoman Long Distance Duathlon

Got your sights set on a trip to Prague? Plan it around the Krusnoman Duathlon, a long, mountainous 5K-80K-15K about 80 kilometers outside of the Czech Republic’s capital city. You can experience leg- and lung-searing joy of 2,200 meters of climbing and then hobble around Prague’s Old Town Square. May 12, 2018. @Krusnoman

Kyaninga Duathlon

Duathlons aren’t limited to North America and Europe. Uganda, Africa, hosts the Kyaninga Duathlon—part of a weeklong adventure that includes a boat safari, trekking with chimpanzees and a race. Along the 4.5K-16.5K-4.5K course, you’ll ride through Ugandan villages and run in the foothills of the UNESCO Rwenzori Mountains. Before and after, you’ll stay in Kyaninga Lodge in Fort Portal. I just found out about this race and I am intrigued! May 19, 2018.

Powerman Zofingen

I know I already talked about the Powerman series, but Zofingenis iconic enough to get a spot all its own. Considered the duathlon equivalent of the Ironman World Championships, Powerman Zofingen is considered the most prestigious and toughest duathlon in the world. It’s also the ITU Long Course World Championship.

The course starts with a hilly 10K forested run, followed by a 150K bike and a 30K run. Both hilly. If you search around, you can find numerous race reports that describe just how hilly and how long this race is. My eyes are burning from a day at the computer, so I’ll let you tackle the almighty Google. September 1-2, 2018.@PM_Zofingen

Kirkistown and Bishopscourt Race Track Duathlons

If you want to go fast, and you want to visit Northern Ireland, check out these full-track sprint and longer-distance duathlons. From the looks of it, you run and ride on an actual racetrack.

If you don’t feel like riding around in circles, visit NI Duathlonfor a list of duathlons throughout the region. @niduathlon

VeloPark Duathlon

Here’s another race series around a track. The VeloPark Duathlon series takes place on a closed-road circuit around the 2012 Olympic Velodrome. These low cost events take place all year, so you can easily fit one into your London vacation. @Velopark_Dua

Bayside Duathlon

I’m getting a little heavy on the UK events, but since this one says it was voted “Best UK Duathlon” in 2016, I’ll give it a mention.Held along Stokes Bay, in Gosport, and the Lee-on-the-Solent sea front, Bayside Duathlonincludes both a sprint (5K-20K-5K) and a super-sprint (2.5K-10K-2.5K), both flat.

Gosport is a port town with 24 miles of waterfront, beaches and watersports. It also looks like you’re pretty close to South Downs Natural Park. November 4.@BaysideDuathlon

Know of any other great international races? Let us know in the comments below!

Photo courtesy of Michael Fox, Flickr

Guest post: Spring is here: what to “du”?

Steven Jonas, M.D., M.P.H., duathlete and triathlete, shares his tips for getting out there after winter hibernation.

bike in snow

Spring is coming. Really? If you, like I do, live in a part of the country that has had a pretty rough winter, especially during the past month of March, you might not actually believe that. But yes, spring will eventually get here and where you live too, and we will be able to start racing again. And so, what to do for getting going for the upcoming season, in light of the really miserable winter weather many of us had?

We are all, of course, all anxious to get back to racing. Some of us ordinarily do work out outdoors during the winter. While I used to when I was much younger, my winter routine is now primarily found indoors—riding the stationary bike, stretching, and lifting in my own gym in my basement (lucky me!) But if you have routinely spent some of your winter training time outdoors, you may have had to cut back because of the weather. And if you are like me, running and riding outside again will be delayed, or at least cut back some, because of the weather.

What are my main words of advice?

Caution and patience.

Don’t push it, either in your training or in your early season racing. The season is a long one. You don’t want to get injured at the beginning of the season. And yes, you may have your heart set on an early-season duathlon, but if you can’t get in enough training for it, it is much better to skip it than to go out there and get hurt.

Until four years ago, I skied during the first two weeks of March. While skiing for the most part isn’t aerobic (or shouldn’t be, if you know what you are doing, and as a retired ski instructor I can say that if you don’t know that, you don’t belong out there), it does get the blood circulating and the muscles limbered up. But since I am no longer skiing, that part of my preparation is not there. Now, early in the season, in any race that I do, I will take it even easier than I usually do these days.

I’ve got a long, good season planned. You may well have one too. Don’t ruin it by trying to defy Mother Nature. She will have her way, and if you go with the flow, you can have a great season, even if it means either missing or taking it very easy in that first race or two.

###

This column is based in part on one that originally appeared on the USA Triathlon blog and is used with permission.

2018 marks Steve Jonas’ 36th season of multi-sport racing. He began the season with a total of 255 du’s and tri’s. He is a member of USA Triathlon’s Triathlon Century Club and is in the 90s 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 multisport racing. His first (originally published in 1986) was Triathloning for Ordinary Mortals®. 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 multi-sport periodicals, including the USA Triathlon Blog. He very happily joined Du it For You in 2016.

Photo courtesy of Francisco Daum, Flickr.

A faster duathlon transition: Experts share their top tips

duathlon transition

Want to shave a minute or more off your duathlon time without much effort? Master your transition. With a seamless, speedy transition, you can get a jump on your competitors and place a few notches higher in your age group. If you’re trying to qualify for Team USA, every place matters.

The duathlon transition is less cumbersome than triathlon—no wetsuit to peel off, no wet clothes. Helmet, shoes and bike are your three key components to master. Here, age group aces (and one pro) from across the United States and Europe share their tips for a faster transition.

 Alistair Eeckman, Berkeley, CA

“Practice, practice and practice will help you improve your T1 and T2 times. I prefer to use rubber bands on my cycling shoes. Like this video shows, for example.” (Read more about Alistair here)

 Albert Harrison, Moscow, Iowa

“Practice at home and rehearse on race morning by running through the transition area. Running out barefoot may give you a fast T1 split, but if you’re fumbling with your shoes while you’re getting going on your bike, you’re likely to lose some time.”

“Be sure to look at the last half mile of the bike course and make a note of when it would be safest/fastest/easiest to get your feet out of your bike shoes. If it’s uphill or technical, it may be best to dismount and run in to T2 with your bike shoes on. Click, clack…”

Jim Girand, Palo Alto, CA

“Get power straps [for your bike] and wear your racing flats. With training they will be just as good as cycling shoes.”

[This is what they look like]

Wolf Hillesheim, El Sobrante, CA

“Make sure your bike is in the right gear when you mount. In sprint races, use the [Power Grips] or Pyro Platforms—if you can find them! Then you can use your racing flats—no bike shoes. It’s quicker, and there’s less chance of cramping on the second transition.” (Read more about Wolf here)

Steve Fung, Orinda, CA

“Little things matter in the bike transition. I always try to ride my bike before setting up in T2. Make sure the wheels are smooth, no rubbing. Check skewers a couple times to not stress about it when racing. Make sure brakes are pulling correctly and air pressure feels right.

“Shift through gears a couple times to make sure rings and cassette shift smooth. Make sure it’s in the right gear for a speedy departure and crank arm is at the three o’ clock position.

“Make sure your helmet fits comfortably—check straps and clip. Make sure glasses are the right tint. I have a couple different tints depending on terrain and lighting. I frequently use high-contrast yellow for shadowy rides. Make sure water bottles are tight in cage, bottles open, and tool kit [if you carry one] is in place and complete.”

Claire Steels, Steels Fitness, Mallorca

“Practice makes perfect. Look for an easy way to spot your bike, such as a tree or bin. Make sure you leave your bike in an easy gear—you only make that mistake once!”

duathlon transition

I use my bright orange spike bag in transition. If I can remember what row I’m in, then the orange bag makes my bike easier to spot.

Bradley Williams, Westland, MI

Speed laces in shoes. Little or no extra gear at your transition spot. Practice, practice, practice.”

Mark Griffin, Suffolk, England

“Don’t rush and don’t try anything you haven’t practiced in training. It’s far easier to gain 30 seconds on the bike or run over panicking and messing up in transition looking for single seconds.”

Nate Deck, Raleigh, NC

“Keep it simple. The less you have to do, the quicker you will be. Lay everything flat: race belt, helmet with straps open, shoes… Also, run through transition mentally on race morning when you set up your transition area.”

Pamela Semantik, Cleveland, OH

“I do not do a flying mount or dismount. I have seen all kinds of bad stuff happen, and it’s beyond my skill level. The way I see it, if I take a couple extra seconds to dismount the way I know how, I may have just saved myself some time (and embarrassment, and possibly injury) if I flub the flying dismount.”

Angie Ronsettler-Ridgel, Cleveland, OH

“I use a ‘cross dismount technique after I get my feet out of the shoes. I have not perfected the shoeless remount, so I put my cycling shoes on in transition.”

Got any transition tips? Share them in the comments below.

2017 year in review: success in spite of myself

I started mentally reviewing my 2017 racing season well before the holidays, but it took until now to get my thoughts on the page. In between, contributor Dr. Stephen Jonas provided helpful questions to ask when reviewing your racing season. Take a look!

For most of 2017, I criticized myself. My performance on the bike wasn’t up to par. I didn’t practice my transitions, which would have saved me precious seconds in important races. My running performance started off strong, but faded halfway through the year. I considered 2017 a wash.

But when I shifted my mindset and thought of my goals, I realized I had a pretty darn good year in spite of myself. Here are four things I’m proud of.

1. Top 10 in USA Track & Field/Pacific Region Road Grand Prix, short and long series.

USATF has annual team and individual competitions in road, cross country, mountain/ultra and track events. My club, Pamakid Runners, competes in all of these except track.

One of my 2017 goals was to earn “comped” status in both the short- and long-course road series. This requires placing in the top 10 in my division, 40+ women. Result: nailed it! I placed seventh in both. That means I receive free entry into 2018 short and long Grand Prix races. Yay, free! I got comped for the short series (10th) for 2015, but thanks to an injury, didn’t get to take advantage of the benefit.

2. USA Triathlon Duathlon National Champion

One of my all-time duathlon goals was to win my age group in a national championship race. Unexpectedly, I accomplished this at the USAT Duathlon Long-Course National Championships in Cary, North Carolina, in April.

IMG_0300

I had a lackluster race. (Can you tell I’m hard on myself?) My bike split was minutes slower than my expectation. I had acceptable run splits considering the heat and humidity. But I did my best on the day. Result: Age group win! Bonus: a “national champion” bike jersey that I’m a little embarrassed to wear.

3. Came out of half marathon hiatus

In February, I lined up to race the Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Half Marathon for the first time in 10 years. In between, I ran some trail halfs as training races, but didn’t specifically train for a half.

Why? After the 2007 KPSF 1/2 I ran a big PR, and then ended up with a stress fracture a week later. I became gun-shy about racing the half and focused on races from 5K to 10 miles. I soon got over my fear, but training for a half just didn’t fit…for a long time!

In 2017, I not only ran the KPSF 1/2, but also the Clarksburg Country Run in November (part of the road Grand Prix), where I placed third in my age group. Result: barrier broken. Bonus: I stayed healthy and still am!

4. Pamakid Runners Female Runner of the Year

Well this was unexpected! Each year my club hands out awards for male/female runner of the year (road and ultra), most improved and most inspirational. It also gives out an overall “Pamakid of the Year” and “Volunteer of the Year” award for members who go above and beyond to help the club and the running community at large.

I missed the club’s Christmas party, where they present the awards, only to discover a couple days later I won one! And here I thought I had a crappy 2017.

Pamakid Runners

At the Christmas Relays, belatedly receiving my award. Thanks Pamakids!

For most of 2017’s second half, my motivation to race took a nosedive due to caring for and losing my beautiful feline companion, Soleil. From the time I learned she had a tumor, in August, through the worst of the grief, I had no passion for racing or much else. I raced to keep my skills sharp and to spend time with my Pamakids family.

my cat

My pal for 15 and-a-half years and a sock monkey she didn’t like. Isn’t she the most beautiful cat ever?

I criticized myself (can you see a trend here?) for slower race times, but in spite of myself, I ran a lot of races and placed fairly well in them. I also volunteered a fair amount for my club. Taken all together, Pamakids saw something I didn’t. I’m grateful.

As 2018 picks up momentum, I have my enthusiasm back and my health intact. I’m working toward my 2018 goals with a renewed sense of commitment.

What are you most proud of in 2017? What did you learn? Tell us about it in the comments below.

Guest post: Revisiting Your Goals

Here is the latest article from Steven Jonas, MD, MPH. As you reflect on 2017, reflect on your racing season. Did you meet or exceed your goals? What can you do differently in 2018? — Du It For You

resolutions

The multisport racing season has come to a close in most parts of the country. Some of us are quite happy in the sport, know where we are going, look forward to next year and have possibly started to plan for it. But perhaps you have come to the point, after just one, two, or many years in the sport, where you’re not quite sure of your place in it.

To help you focus, to help you make sure that what you are doing is right for you, I would suggest that you think about the following questions: “Where am I now?” “What am I getting out of the sport?” “What, perhaps, am I not getting out of it that I thought I might?” “What should I be doing this winter?”

Whether you are gung ho for next year, or perhaps a doubting Thomas or Thomasina but still in an exploring mood, with these questions I am suggesting (surprise, surprise for those readers who know me) that first and foremost you take a look back at the goals you set for yourself, either last year or way back when. Did you come into multisport racing from a non-racing background out of curiosity, with the goal of simply satisfying it? Did you come into multisport from another racing sport in which you did well in terms of speed, looking to do well in this one also? Did you look at doing the sport as an opportunity to get into cross-training on a regular basis with the primary goal of improving your health and physical fitness, using racing as a motivator? Did you know something about multisport racing from a friend or two before starting out, and then say to yourself, “this looks like a good way to have fun?”

My bet is that whether your goals were one or more from the above list or not, if you are feeling good, feeling good about yourself, and feeling good about the sport, you most likely set an appropriate goal (or goals) for yourself and achieved it (them) in one way or another. I would also bet that if the opposite is true, you chose one or more inappropriate goals, in terms of your skill-level, available time, and life- balance. I suggest that you consider these ten words: “Do my goals work for me? Why and why not?”

For example, have you chosen the right multisport? If you really don’t like to swim and you have chosen triathlon for the “challenge” and you’re having fun, time to re-consider. There are duathletes who never touch the water and have a great, long, fun career in the two-sport variety.

If you are not inherently fast (like me) and you have chosen to engage simply to have fun (like me), and you are, you have achieved your goal. However, if you are not inherently fast but nevertheless have set as your goal going fast, and you spend hours on speed work getting nowhere, I suggest thinking again about why you are in the sport and perhaps change your focus to—that’s right—simply having fun.

To achieve the latter, you need train a lot less and a lot less intensely (just like I do). On the other hand, if you are doing speed work and you are picking up the pace (the good news) but feel like it’s something of a struggle (the bad news), you should take a look at your particular program and consider others, either in print or at a fall clinic. You might also consider hiring a personal coach.

And so, as the season comes to an end, I suggest that you take a deep breath, literally and figuratively. Life is long and so can your stay in multisport racing. From the beginning, setting out to have fun and while becoming a regular exerciser, going slowly all the time, I just finished my 35th season in tri/duathlon, having fun and exercising regularly the whole time. To repeat: The key to staying with it is to make sure that you set goals that work for you and work for you now. You should also know that as your life circumstances and your athletic abilities change, you can always change your goals and continue to stay—happily—in your sport of choice.

A version of this column originally appeared on the USAT blog in 2013 and is used with permission.

2017 marked Steve Jonas’ 35th season of multisport racing. He has done a total of 255 du’s and tri’s. 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 multisport racing. His first (originally published in 1986), Triathloning for Ordinary Mortals®. 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 multisport are available at Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com. He is also long-time writer for various multisport periodicals, most recently, and happily, joining Du It For You.

Photo courtesy of Flickr

Team USA, it’s not goodbye. It’s see you later.

I am officially on Team USA Duathlon sabbatical until at least 2019. Maybe longer. Maybe until I turn 50 (2021), or maybe I’ll revisit the hiatus in 2018 if I get ridiculously excited about an event. Regardless, I am a one-sport athlete for the time being.

USA Triathlon Duathlon

I didn’t make this decision lightly. The duathlon burnout tugged at me all year, despite ambitious goals. My original plan: USAT Long Course Duathlon National Championships in April, standard course nationals in June and the World Championships (standard course) in August. I felt the first two would prepare me well for the worlds in Penticton, which was my “A” goal.

I didn’t train as specifically as I could have for the first of those three races. I could blame it on the deluge of rain that hit the Bay Area through last winter and early spring. Really, it was lack of interest.

I was ready for a break from duathlon and the demand of my time it required. I looked forward to competing with my team at local running races, but rarely looked forward to intervals on the bike and long brick workouts.

By June, I had fit in more duathlon-specific training. The malaise stuck with me, even in beautiful Bend, Oregon. The voices in my head during the bike leg were the loudest they’ve ever been. You’re so slow. Everyone is passing you. You’re going to be the last one out here. Just quit now. This is not fun. I finished, and only about a minute slower than the previous year (all on the bike). So I wasn’t last, but dang it sure felt like it!

I ran well and had a great time at a one-mile race in late June and a Fourth of July 5K. No transitions, no lugging the bike here and there, no goofy one-piece outfit. I worked on getting excited about the ITU Multisport Championships in Penticton, BC, but the feeling wasn’t coming. I trained anyway.

 

And then, something happened on Fourth of July that sent my motivation for everything plummeting into the abyss. My cat, Soleil—my companion for the past 15 years—got sick. Not the sniffles or coughing up a hairball. Serious sick. On July 5, the vet put her on antibiotics for 21 days, which didn’t help her condition.

And so began a long journey of cat worry, combined with a seriously heavy workload, and training for and planning for a trip to Canada. As the days went on, Soleil got more tests, and I got more overwhelmed about this trip.

I canceled the whole damn thing. On August 20, the day I *should* have raced in the Duathlon World Championships, I took Soleil to the vet to have a tumor removed from her bladder. The tumor was cancerous. Now, two months later, she’s on what the cat oncologist calls “hospice care;” which, in this case, means TLC and pain meds. My heart breaks every day.

I officially started my duathlon hiatus when I called Tiki Shores hotel in Penticton to cancel my reservation. I’ll return when my excitement for the sport returns. Until then, I’m a runner that rides her bike a lot.

USAT, you could do better

I absolutely love duathlon, the challenge it brings and the community of people dedicated to this demanding multisport event. I don’t love a lot of what USAT requires to compete in major events. Its demands also played a role in my hiatus, though burnout definitely starred in the decision.

USAT talks about making multisport accessible to everyone. Yet, national championships, and especially world championships, are not accessible to everyone.

They’re accessible to people that meet or exceed the current median USAT athlete income of $100,000+ per year. They’re accessible to people that can afford to take off a few days from work, travel across the country for a race, and invest in an expensive TT bike, an “aero” helmet and other garb. If the average middle-class aspiring athlete scrapes up the cash to acquire the gear and travel to a big race, and lo and behold qualifies to compete in the worlds, they’ll have to pay dearly. Again.

USAT doesn’t make it easy, or affordable in any way, to compete as part of Team USA. The “travel packages” assembled by its travel agent partner are a joke. I compared the costs one year of booking my own travel vs. working with their travel partner and saved well over $1,000 by planning myself.

If you choose to stay in the “host” hotel, know it will likely be one of the most costly in town. In Pontevedra, Spain, for the 2014 worlds, USAT chose the only four-star hotel in the city, while the rest of the countries stayed in nearby, slightly more modestly priced hotels.

Uniforms? You pay for them. About $220 for a uniform, which changes every few years. In 2017, they also started pushing Team USA athletes to buy a “parade kit,” which was a small $200 (approx.) collection of Team USA apparel it supposedly “required” athletes to wear when they weren’t racing. I assume this was another way for USAT to make money off its amateur athletes. I would never be seen in public in this stuff.

Oh–don’t forget the race entry fee. That sets you back another $200 to $300. And don’t forget airfare, hotel/Airbnb reservations, meals, bike transport fees, and other costs. Start doing the math, and you’ll see anything beyond a local duathlon is not accessible to most people.

Want diversity in the sport? Make it affordable to a more diverse population. Consider at minimum, a discount off uniforms, membership fees, race entry fees and the stupid parade kit for people that meet certain income criteria.

Study USATF’s requirements for regional and national championships. The difference in monetary requirements and pain-in-the-you-know-what factor is remarkable.

Some of the costs associated with national and world events are unavoidable. Race organizers pay a fortune, I’m sure, in insurance, permitting, security, police support, venue reservations and other expenses. But really, a “required” parade kit? After all the athletes sacrifice to compete in a dream of an event, requiring us to wear stuff we’ll never wear again (and pay for it) is like swatting us upside the head with a racing flat.

Having said all that, will I compete in regional and national USAT events again? Absolutely. Do I plan to fulfill my mission of competing in Powerman Zofingen, the ITU long-course duathlon world championship? Absolutely. I don’t know when, but when I do, I’ll be physically and mentally “all in.”

Do I think USAT does a few things right? Yep. It promotes a sport that welcomes beginners. In a country faced with an obesity crisis, the more people we have engaging in healthy activities, the better.

It offers a wealth of training tips through its website, newsletters and magazine that athletes of all ability levels can learn from. It sanctions races all over the country, ensuring a greater chance we’ll participate in reasonably well-organized, safe events. It established solid programs for college and youth. It established a complicated rankings system so competitive age-groupers like myself can see how we stack up.

And it hired COO Tim Yount. I don’t know everything his job entails, but I know he is passionate about promoting and growing duathlon, and I know he works hard for USAT’s membership body. He travels all over the U.S. and world as a USAT liaison. I’ve seen him lead course preview rides, town hall discussions and rules briefings. I’ve heard him emcee big races. I’ve seen him stand near the finish line for hours to hand little American flags to athletes approaching the finish line of world championship events.

What do you think? How can USAT make duathlon more accessible to all? To keep the sport going, it has to bring in more participants, and to bring in more participants, it should be more accessible to more people. Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Guest post: The basic 8 of regular exercise

Note: Thank you again to Dr. Steven Jonas for his contribution to this blog. This one is a topic that anyone can learn from. We get so caught up in train-race-repeat it’s easy to forget the underlying reasons we “du” what we do: to be healthy! Train wisely and race with “eyeballs out” (thank you Devon Yanko for the phrase), but remember the long game. 

My apologies again for not writing more often. Busy work, tending to a cat with cancer and a general burnout because of the first two took some wind out of my sails. I’m on the upswing again, so I hope to get back to a more regular schedule soon! Now, on to the expert! — Du it for You

The basic 8 of regular exercise

While some of us live where we can race year-round, in many parts of the country, even with the onslaught of global warming, winter is on its way. And as it comes, those of us who train year-round (which I happened to have done in my 34 years in duathlon), think about what we are going to do, how we are going to train, as the weather limits the amount of time we can safely spend outdoors.

Many years ago, with a strong assist from the legendary track coach Bill Bowerman1, I put together what I call the “Basic Eight of Regular Exercise.” They certainly have helped me to keep on truckin’, and given some thought, they might help you too.

blueberries

Because blueberries are healthy.

  1. The hard part of regular exercise is the regular, not the exercise. Believe me, I know, and live this principle very well. There are surely those mornings (and I workout in the morning) when man, I just don’t feel like getting going. But I do know just how important getting going is. While in my schedule (and I generally workout five days per week) I do take an occasional day off, most of the time I do get going, and then guess what? Ten minutes into the workout I’m very glad I did.

 

  1. The best exercise routine for you is the exercise routine that is best for you. There are numerous choices. One size does not fit all. This applies to duathlon as well as to training for it. There are so many articles that say “do it this way, and you are sure to…” Well, maybe, but, as I have said so many times, just because a particular writer says that it works for him/her, it does not mean that it will necessarily work for you.

 

  1. There are many reasons to exercise regularly, other than for race training. Most folks who do will tell you that regular exercise makes you feel better and feel better about yourself, as well as making you look better and look better to yourself. Those are certainly my principal reasons, even though as a preventive medicine doc I know there are plenty of health-promoting reasons to do it, too.

 

  1. Regular exercise can help you prevent and manage certain diseases and conditions. Regular exercise can reduce your risk of developing heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, certain kinds of cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis (bone softening associated with aging), being overweight and even depression and chronic anxiety. There are no guarantees here, but the risk goes down for getting all of these major illnesses. It’s also very helpful in managing many of the same conditions.

 

  1. Gradual change leads to permanent changes. Over the course of my own racing life, I have found this one to be true over and over again.

 

  1. 6. Explore your limits; recognize your limitations. This applies to distances, to speed, to the frequency of racing, and to training as well. Can you go faster, go longer? Of course you can (just as I did in my early days in the sport…well, longer, anyway!). Do you want to stay in duathlon? Then you absolutely have to do what works for you, not for someone else.

 

  1. Effective mobilization of your motivation is the key to long-term success, both as a regular exerciser and then as a multisport racer. (We’ll be getting back to this key to exercising regularly in one or more future columns.)

 

  1. We can never be perfect; we can always get better. If you can embed this one in your mind, you can have a long and successful (for you) career in tri/duathlon, regardless of your speed or athletic ability.

1. Walsh, C., The Bowerman System, Los Altos, CA: Tafnews Press, 1983, chap. 3.

This column is based in part on an article that appeared earlier in my series for USA Triathlon, and is used with permission.

Image courtesy of Flickr

Guest post: Want a pretty medal? Wait for it.

Here’s another great column from legendary duathlon “mere mortal,” Dr. Steven Jonas. Funny he should bring up this very important topic. Last weekend, I volunteered for the Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Half Marathon, a race my running club, Pamakid Runners, puts on each year.

My teammates and I manned a booth at a local race expo. The number one question? What will the medals look like? It’s a beautiful, flat course? That’s nice. What about the medal? When can I see the medal? Can I buy a medal? Medals are a big deal in today’s running community. They’re also a big deal for age-groupers competing in big multisport events. Here’s Steve’s take on his well-earned inventory. Enjoy! –Du It For You

ITU Duathlon medal

Are you slow, but want to get a medal? Well, hang in there. Hey, you never know. I am a very lucky man to have found multi-sport racing. I reached the age of 46 having been able to do only two sports reasonably well. They were downhill skiing, which I got into during my first year of medical school at the age of 22, and sail-boating, which I got into in my 30s.

I fell in love with skiing on my very first day, even though I spent almost as much time down on the snow as I did actually standing up on my skis. But not being good at any of the usual school sports, I felt that I had finally discovered one I could do, if I took lessons and practiced. Eventually I did it well enough to become a Level I Certified Ski Instructor.

As for sailing, I was a good seaman and a safe sailor and just loved the “sailing sensation.” But I was never much at making my boat go fast in the club races I regularly entered. And in sailboat racing, if you’re not first, second, or third overall, fuhgeddaboudit (as we say in Noo Yawk). But then came triathlon, at age 46.

My-oh-my! Here was a racing sport which required only the ability to swim some distance, ride a bike, and then manage a run. My very first race was the 1983 Mighty Hamptons Triathlon at Sag Harbor, New York. In it, I discovered that unless you were fast, and competitive, it didn’t really matter where you finished, as long as you finished (and in my view, I did that happily and healthily, a phrase I coined the very next morning, when I went out for a little unwinding trot).

Then it just happened that my third race overall, held the following May, was what Dan Honig, the now-retired President of the New York Triathlon Club (nee Big Apples Triathlon Club) and I have concluded was the very first biathlon ever held. Dan thought up the event as a “season-extender” for multi-sport racing in our region. (FYI, “Biathlon” was the early name for our run-bike-run sport, before the application for inclusion of triathlon in the Olympics came up. Then, because biathlon is a winter Olympic sport consisting of cross-country skiing and target shooting, the Greek prefix was exchanged for the Latin one.)

Dan’s race was held at the old Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn. (That airfield, now long-closed, I had known in my New York City childhood as a Naval Air Station. Before that it was New York City’s first commercial airport.) For my first few years on both variants, that’s what it was in its entirety: racing for the pure fun of it.

But then, at what was already a relatively advanced age for getting into a new sport, in my region (New York Metropolitan Area), my age-cohort started to shrink a bit when I turned 50. And lo and behold, with the Mighty Hamptons back then giving age-group awards ten deep, I got my first award, an 8th, in 1987. I took my first age-group 3rd in 1991. I really started reeling them in in both duathlon and triathlon when I entered the 60-64 age group in 1996. Why? Was I going any faster? Why no. As I have gotten older, not one for speed-training, I have gotten steadily slower. But in this region, my age-cohort has continued to shrink while I have continued to race. Now 80, in my 35th year in the sport, I have 250-plus multi-sport races under my belt, including 90-plus du’s. At my age, I am almost guaranteed a plaque if I cross the finish line.

Would I still be racing if I weren’t getting plaques? Because I love the sport so much, I’m sure that I would. But I must admit that I do like getting them. That’s because I view them, for me, as a reward for staying with the sport for so long, especially since I am so slow (and now for the most part walking the run legs). And so, my message here is this: do you enjoy du-ing the Du for its own sake? Great! But even if you are slow like me, if you stay with run-bike-run long enough, you may eventually end up with some plaques too

*This column is based on one that originally appeared on the USAT blog and is used with permission.

2017 marks Steve Jonas’ 35th season of multi-sport racing. As of this writing, he has done a total of 255 du’s and tri’s. He is a member of USA Triathlon’s Triathlon Century Club and is in the 90s for duathlon. He has raced up to the ironman distance, but now at 80, 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 Triathloning for Ordinary Mortals®. 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 multi-sport periodicals, most recently, and happily, joining Du It For You.

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