Du It For You

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

Tag: Duathlon Training

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!


#MSCWelland Race Report

Read Coach Cruz’s race report on Multisport Canada’s duathlon season opener. Great job!

 

Guest post: Why Du the Du? An Introduction

Regular readers of this blog likely know what duathlons are, but if you are just coming into multisport racing, it might be helpful to go over the definition.

Duathlons are distance races with three separate legs but two sports: running and cycling. They come in a variety of lengths from short to very, very long. And in that regard, do you know what, for a duathlete, is a crazy duathlete? Why one who has done a longer race than the longest one she or he has done.

Why tri the du? Let us count the ways. Whether you already do a distance sport, you are looking for a new challenge in your life. Or you want to try it because it looks like fun (and, done right, it is). You are a cyclist, or a runner, and whether you already race in your sport, the idea of combining it with the other one in a race intrigues you. You are interested in getting into what’s called cross-training; that is, training in more than one distance sport at the same time. Cross-training reduces your risk of sport-specific injury in any one of the sports because you are spending less time in each one. Coss-training can also reduce the boredom that can come with doing just one distance sport. And so, if you are cross-training, why not do the racing event it was originally designed for? Duathlon also provides a great excuse to buy some new toys — like a bike — especially for runners.

You may already be thinking about multi-sport racing, and you may well have heard about triathlon than duathlon. Yes indeed, you could try the tri for whatever reason or reasons pull your chain. But, let’s say that you don’t like to, want to, or just cannot, swim. Well then, it is definitely time to look at duathlon. Although there have been just run-bike events (and I did several of those years ago), the most common format is run-bike-run. There are four standard distances (although variants of them can be found to accommodate various course lengths and settings). There is what is generally called the super sprint, 2.5km run,10km cycle, 2.5km run, the sprint 5km run, 20km cycle, 5km run, standard distance: 10km run, 40km, 10km run, and a variety of truly long ones, like Powerman Zofingen, 10km run, 150km cycle, 30km run event, held in Switzerland.

So, if you are thinking about getting started in multisport racing but don’t like the idea of swimming, or you are a triathlete who is getting tired of training in the three sports, or you are looking for shorter combo events that are still a challenge but not as demanding as the usual triathlon, or you are most comfortable on the bike and perfectly happy to do the bulk of your training on it, or what have you, it might be time to “think duathlon.”

When duathlons were first developed by Dan Honig, President of New York Triathlon Club in the mid-1980s, the run-bike-run events were called “biathlons.” In the mid-90s the International Triathlon Union moved to get triathlon added to the Olympic Games. As many readers know, “biathlon” is also the name of the winter Olympic sport that combines cross-country skiing with target-shooting. Understandably, the winter biathlon people didn’t want another event in the Olympics associated with one that had the same name as theirs. So, by substituting the Latin prefix for the Greek one, the official name of the event was changed to “duathlon.” Whatever it is called, I do them on a regular basis throughout the season, and in my 35th season coming up, continue to do so.

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

This column is based upon an earlier column of mine, “Why Try the Tri and Why Do the Du?” which appeared on the USA-Triathlon Blog on April 25, 2013. It is used with permission.

Will morning runs make you smarter?

Happy Christmas Eve Duathletes!! In the midst of the holiday hustle and bustle, don’t slack off too much on training. One great way to make sure you get it done is to get it done first thing. Morning runs, rides, or some combination leave you energized for the day ahead. And according to a recent study, running may make you more productive at work.

A University of Arizona study shows running stimulates part of the brain related to decision-making and planning. Much like playing a musical instrument, running helps improve memory and attention span. Read more here.

As I write this, I’m about an hour away from a long early morning bike ride. Unfortunately, the study didn’t analyze cycling, but if it did, and it posed similar benefits as running, I will return home able to recite the encyclopedia!

From your favorite Duathlon blog, have a very merry Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or just a very happy week between now and January 1. You may hear from me in the interim. If not, and in the meantime, follow me on Twitter @gorunbikerun.

 

USA Triathlon Announces 2017 Calendar

Last week I talked about goal setting. This week I give you goals! USA Triathlon has announced its 2017 national championship calendar. Start planning now!

The season runs from January to November, so you have more than enough to choose from! Of note to duathletes, the duathlon long course nationals will take place again in Cary, North Carolina on April 29. The standard and sprint distance national champs will be held in Bend, Oregon in June (most likely late June), date TBA.

usatagncolympic2015bycruse0007a

photo by Rich Cruse, courtesy of USA Triathlon

These events qualify you for ITU World Championship events. The 2018 Multisport World Championships, site of the standard and sprint distance duathlons, will head to Odense, Denmark that year.

You can find the full national championship slate on USAT’s website.

What big races do you have planned for 2017? Tell us in the comments below!

My duathlon “A” race next year is the Duathlon World Championship (standard distance) in Penticton, BC. I also plan to compete in the National Championship in Bend, Oregon. I’ll call that an “A-” race goal!

Du’ing Great: A chat with Suzanne Cordes

Suzanne Cordes has a lifetime of racing experience and a mountain of running, triathlon, and duathlon awards. This June, however, the 57-year-old athlete added some meaningful hardware to her trophy case—she took home the bronze in both the ITU Duathlon World Championship in Aviles, Spain, and the USAT Duathlon National Championship in Bend, Oregon. Her performance in Bend also earned her a third place Standard Grandmasters (50-59) Female award.

The trip to Central Oregon came just a few weeks after an impromptu trip to Aviles, where Suzanne competed on a whim, a prayer, and a lot of determination. A serious hamstring tear sidelined her for about four months earlier this year, but as typical of us stubborn athletes, she kept her sights on June.

When the doctor said “maybe” she would be healed enough to race, she took that to mean, “I’m going to try.” Makes perfect sense to me! She didn’t just try. She did, and later, stood on the podium with a big shiny medal.

A runner since age 10, Cordes competed in track and cross country in high school, college, and, later, as a high-ranking masters athlete. She has earned collegiate and Masters All-American status and is ranked internationally in World Masters Athletics, the governing body for international track and field and cross country events for ages 35-plus. She started competing in triathlon in 1989 and duathlon in 2014.

A certified USA Track and Field Level 2 Endurance Coach, a USA Triathlon Level 1 Coach, and a coach with lots of other credentials, Suzanne trains runners, cyclists, and multisport athletes from her facility, In Training, in San Ramon, California.

I caught up with Suzanne during a well-deserved, post-Bend vacation in North Lake Tahoe, where she, her husband Rick (also a high-ranking duathlete), and their three large cats relaxed among the pine trees and magically blue water.

RBR: Tell me about the course in Aviles. All I’ve heard is that it was hot and humid and the transition area was very long!

SC: The bike had some hills. And we repeated loops—we went down a lower loop and made a hairpin turn, then to a far right loop and made a hairpin turn, then up and around another loop. And we repeated those loops three times. The run went along the River Aviles. It was basically flat, with some hard right turns and some little bumps. A lot of people didn’t run two loops and mistakenly got a DNF.

RBR: You had a phenomenal race! How did you overcome a nagging injury to finish on the podium?

SC: I had strong desire to perform well at the world level. Spain was purely mental. I wanted it. I had to mentally block out aches and pains and direct my focus on my mantra “keep the push!” to stay strong.

ITUbike

Suzanne Cordes keeps pushing through a technical 40K bike in Aviles.

RBR: Our mental attitude can really make or break a race.

SC: The mental aspect is huge. Many people don’t realize the power of the mind. They train the physical body, and focus on training, which is important, but the mind rules. You can be in the best shape of your life, but if your head doesn’t believe it, all that fitness is not going to rise you to the top. For me, Spain was a total mental race with so much want.

RBR: You coach groups in running and cycling at your studio in San Ramon. What training strategies do you use for new duathletes?

SC: My athletes have their workouts when they show up to practice. Most of them train in a group. I try to individualize within the group. Most of the training, though, is to build confidence. It’s not so much about whether they can run fast or bike well. That’s a given. They’re going to do the best they can. It’s about building confidence. I show them they can do it.

RBR: Does the confidence building come out in the words or the workouts?

SC: Everyone is different. I have to show them. We perform initial assessments as baseline data, develop goals with dates and distances to aim toward, then periodically compare times/watts. No mystery. They have proof of their improvements.

RBR: Is there a key workout that you do leading up to a national or international race?

SC: I’m always changing it up. I do a lot of my bike training on the trainer. A key workout for me though is to take my bike out to a place with no stop signs or signals where I can get in the aero position and simulate a race. On the trainer, I may divide up a workout into two times 10 miles and try to hit the watts that I want to hit in the race. Also, at my training facility, we’ve got courses that we’ll put up on a big screen and we race to them. That’s the secret sauce. That keeps Rick in the game. It gives you a total edge. When I look at the workouts that I do at the [training] center, it’s way harder than a race. All the stats are on the screen, and these guys are trying to beat me, and I’m not going to let them. It’s a game!

Follow Suzanne at @coachcordes.

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