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.
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.
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
For lists of generic downloadable plans, both paid and free, check out:
Eric Schwartz, Duathlon.com (outdated website; training plans still relevant)
Training Peaks (multiple plans by Phil Mosley and others. Some include email access to coach)
What are your plans for 2019? How du you plan to du it? Let us know in the comments below!