What is a Duathlon?
A duathlon is a an event that brings together running and cycling into one challenge. The format starts with a sprint, before moving onto a cycle section, and then back to a sprint. Before you get started with a duathlon, you’ll need to prepare yourself for both disciplines, becoming a master at running and cycling.
Your training for duathlon will be trickier than most, as you have to prepare for two types of sport in one race. You should aim to train at least three times a week to keep yourself on track. You might need to split up your running and cycling sessions, as it can be tricky to plan where you can stop and swap onto the bike.
The sprints in a duathlon are normally not too big - many tend to top out about 10KM for the first leg, and most will halve the distance for the second leg after the cycle section. If you’re new to running, try smaller distances to begin with to build yourself up - 1KM, 2.5KM, 5KM etc. Start off small, and then move on when you are comfortable and confident you can complete that distance.
Despite the smaller sections of running, a duathlon is all about endurance - so there is no harm is being able to last longer than the challenge you’re doing. You should also get an idea of the terrain you’ll be running on, or even try and run the circuit beforehand if the event provider has a map of the run available. This will help you to learn about any uphill sections, and the type of ground you’ll have to make it across.
Similar to above, it can help to know the type of cycling challenge you’ll be facing and start preparing for it. If you’ve already got your bike, get out on it and start riding. Cycling is easy to get into, but as the distances get longer or roads get steeper, you’ll find the challenge getting hard and harder.
If you don’t have a bike, or find it tricky to cycle locally, then try and looking for some spinning bikes at the gym - these allow you to adjust the seat and handlebars fully, unlike standard exercise bikes. Comfort is going to be important, as the biking sections can typically be 20-50KM, and you don’t want chafing or worse pain to ruin your time.
It’s important for you to get your bike - be it an indoor spinning one or a proper bike - adjusted to your height, stature, and your preferred riding position. You should make sure you can reach the handles easily, that you’re knees are above your feet, and the seat should be about hip height. Play around until everything is comfortable, and you’ll find your rides much more enjoyable.
There’s not too many rules to know about with a duathlon, and the ones you’ll need to pay attention to mostly concern the bike section, or the transitions between the run and cycle sections. Some things to be aware off are:
You have to keep your helmet on whenever you’re using the bike. So once you finish the first run, you’ll have to put the helmet on before getting on the bike, and keep it on until you’ve finished the cycle section completely.
You have to keep at least three bike lengths between you and the bike in front. If you want to overtake, you’re allowed 15 seconds to get past the person, otherwise you’ll have to fall back to the three lengths again. Riding too close or alongside another cyclist is known as “drafting”, and you can get disqualified for it.
There will be marked transition areas between the sections of the race, and there will normally be a transition line before the cycle section, and you mustn’t get on the bike before crossing this line.
So you’ve nailed down the running, and the biking - the last thing to do is make sure you can get between one and the other as fast and as safe as possible. You’ll want to make sure you can easily swap trainers, secure your helmet and jump on the bike in as quick a time as you can, and then dismount and swap back to your running shoes at the other end.
We have picked out the best duathlon taking place in 2017. We have lots more listings availbale, just click on the 'Duathlon Events' tab at the top of this page to find them.
Taking place in September 2017 the London Duathlon is a great event for athletes of any ability so might be the perfect start if you are thinking of doing a duathlon for the first time. It has a run-bike-run format with 4 different distance options all courses will take you around Richmond park and the surrounds closed off roads.
Find out more about this event here