Du It For You

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

Tag: duathlon transition

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!


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.

How to master the duathlon transition

Want to shave 30 seconds off your duathlon time without training, and without spending a week’s wages on gear? Improve your transition.

Just like we train to run and ride faster, we should also train to transition faster. I know it’s boring. And people stare at you like a loon when you hop around in your driveway or in front of your apartment building. I’ve been there! But consistent practice of the simple art of putting on a bike helmet and switching from running to cycling shoes will save you precious seconds in your next race.

duathlon transition

My beautiful bike, the MAGIC BULLET, ready to go in transition.

USA Triathlon published a comprehensive article on how to master the fast duathlon transition. Instead of reinventing the wheel, I guide you to it here.

The Clif Notes: 1) Visualize. 2) Practice. 3) Slow is smooth; smooth is fast. 4) Make sure your bike is in an easy gear. 5) In T2, after you rack your bike, don’t forget to take off your helmet!

Side Note: one common tip is to keep your cycling shoes attached to your bike. When you finish your first run, slip off your shoes, run barefoot or sock-footed to the mount line, and mount the bike cyclocross style. I’ve watched elites do this. Do I do this? Heck no. I’m clumsy and scared of biting it on the pavement.

In time, maybe I’ll get up my nerve to practice this trick, but for now, I practice changing my shoes very quickly. I invested in triathlon/duathlon-specific cycling shoes, which speeds things up because they don’t have buckles. Mine are an older model of the Sidi T4 .They’re just as comfy and sturdy as Sidi’s road shoes.

duathlon transition

My shoes, not clipped into the MAGIC BULLET, but ready for me to get into them quickly.

For added edge, you could invest in Pyro Platform pedals. Pyro pedals resemble toe clips, but with a longer and stiffer base. Fans say they save loads of time in transition with little to no loss of power. I’ve seen everyone from professional sprint-distance athletes to top-ranking age groupers use them. They eliminate the flying-mount-crash risk, which may be worth the investment!

ITUbike

Suzanne Cordes, Pyro pedals user.

For faster feet, consider tri/du-specific shoes. Pierce Footwear introduced the first laceless, sockless, tongueless running shoe for duathlon and triathlon. However, last time I checked they were out of stock.

In the alternative, try a model from Zoot or Pearl Izumi.  They come with elastic laces you don’t have to tie. If you want to wear your regular running shoes, pick up a pair of Lock Laces. Bonus: my racing flats fit better on my narrow feet with elastic laces.

Zoot

Zoot 3.0

Do you have any speedy transition tips? Tell us in the comments below!

Happy running-riding-running…

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