Duathlon Training Plan Tips and Tricks
For cyclists and runners that have no interest in swimming, duathlon is a perfect sport and finding the correct duathlon training plan is important. For the past years, triathlon leads the way in multisport, but we are seeing more people take up the sport of duathlon. You may be looking to challenge yourself with a multi-discipline sport, a sport that offers a tougher challenge than standard triathlon distances.
What is the Distance of a Duathlon?
A duathlon race is based around the standard distance event of a 10km run, 40km bike, and a 5km run. This provides a challenging multisport event for athletes of all abilities.
Although the most common distance in a duathlon is the standard distance. Distances can vary depending on the race organizer, but the format is similar. The first run is always longer than the second run.
The sprint distance duathlon race is a great introductory event. Perfect for those that want to try their first multisport race. Being shorter than a standard distance ( 5k Run, 20k Bike, 2.5k Run) it requires less training and just a little motivation to get you going. For the experienced athlete, it can help develop speed and another race to the calendar.
Powerman is another variation of a duathlon. Events are completed over a longer distance than the standard event. Catering to both age group and elite, the distance usually covers a 10 km run, 60 km bike, and 10 km run. Although all Powerman duathlon events are draft illegal, the standard distance can be raced as both drafting and non-drafting.
Like a triathlon, all duathlons come under the ITU race regulations and are dependant on the event to what format the bike may be.
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Duathlon training plan
Whether you are new to signing up for your first race or a triathlete looking to mix up your racing, duathlon is a fast-paced challenging event. When thinking about a duathlon training plan, consider first if your a stronger runner or cyclist. If your a strong cyclist think about more run focused training to improve your performance. This means adding a few extra quality run sessions to your weekly plan. For example, an athlete doing five workouts each week could consider doing three-run workouts and two cycling workouts per week. Ideally putting time into your weaker discipline and dialing back your stronger discipline.
Whether your new or an experienced duathlete, you want to focus training both running and cycling as two separate entities in the beginning. For the first 8-12 weeks of your training, you want to work each discipline on separate days. Once your closer to the race (8-12 weeks out) you want to begin to bring these two disciples together once or twice per week.
Duathlon training is much like running and cycling training. The workouts mirror that of a runner and cyclist. So we tend to use the same structure but include some specific duathlon workouts to prepare for an event and allow for slightly more recovery than that of a runner or cyclist.
To prepare your duathlon training plan correctly, you will need to incorporate some short, high-intensity intervals into your training. The first run in a duathlon is both fast and important for setting up your position for the bike section. Adding some 1km running intervals into your plan will not only bring up your speed for the event but also bring down you 5k and 10k times.
So lets talk about how we can improve your running
Tempo running is a great way to increase your lactate threshold. This essentially allows you to run faster and make you more efficient. Tempo runs are a great duathlon training tool to add to your plan. Tempo running is between 5-20 minutes in duration and the hard pace should be at a sweet spot, right between comfort and all-out exhaustive level. If you know your training zones this would sit around your lactate threshold pace or heart rate.
Tempo running should be incorporated into your program once a week. Unlike mileage, you don’t need to increase the duration each week. Focus on improving each session before you increase the number of workouts per week.
Interval training or speed work is highly beneficial for the duathlete and every training regimen should include these. While some runners don’t enjoy the concept of interval training, it will improve both your endurance and speed simultaneously. Integrating interval training that closely simulates race-day mileage and speed is important. This could be anything from 1k intervals to 2k or 5k intervals again this highly depends on the period of training you are in, and the target race you have planned.
Focusing on intervals 1-2 times per week is a good formula to bring up your speed and endurance. Although at the beginning like the tempo workouts stick to one day per week and build from there.
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What about the bike?
Endurance and power is key to a good bike leg. As with running look at building your mileage consistently and increase this slowly each week. Once you have a solid foundation of mileage you can look at doing some strength work, followed by some threshold and race efforts.
Strength and power play a major part in cycling and low cadence work is well known in the coaching world to improve power. Once you have a solid foundation look at adding low cadence workouts (5-8×3 minutes) at 50-60rpm into your schedule. Stay seated in the beginning and look to increase the total duration at 50-60rpm each week.
Once you have spent 6-8 weeks on this phase you can start to look to include some threshold work into your plan. Slowly increase the duration of each interval from 10 minutes up to 20 minutes over a period of weeks. In the beginning, these efforts would be around 92% of your FTP and build up to 100% ultimately. Work through each percentage before you increase the intensity and don’t forget those important recovery weeks.
Once this block of training is finished and you are getting closer to your event, you will want to include some higher intensity bike sessions. This is a perfect time to focus on race-specific workouts and also a way to include these into a brick session.
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Brick training for duathlon
So it is important to combine both disciplines into one session, during your week’s training remember to include brick workouts into your training plan. Brick workouts include both the running and bike training combined.
Run-to-bike and bike-to-run are important to training for running off the bike. Make sure you include these into your training. This can be shorter brick sessions such as 2x 10k Bike/ 2k Run or 3 x 1.5k Run/8k Bike.
There are many variations you can use and this should be dependent on the length of your event. They can also be used as speed workout sessions, where the distance is shorter and repeat multiple times, with recovery between each brick effort.
To sum things up, 70-80&% of your training should be based around comfortably paced training. 20-30% should be focused on speed and quality workouts. For injury-prone athletes or beginners, you may slightly decrease the percentage of harder workouts each week.
Remember to keep consistency in your training and allow for recovery weeks to increase your overall fitness to prevent over-training and fatigue.