PACE YOUR RACE
Go out too fast it in a du and you’ll pay it later. But how do you master the first run leg, balance the bike and race for glory the on final run?
THE FIRST RUN
09 If you’re new to duathlon, you might not have much experience of running fresh, so you won’t know what your race pace actually is. And it can be all too easy to start off too fast, hit the front, feel great, and then after few kilometres get hit by a wave of fatigue and end up clawing your way to the finish line. So it’s important to pace the first run so that you conserve enough energy to maintain power on the bike and hold your race pace on the second run.
10 To successfully pace the first run, aim to keep within your aerobic zone. If you’re unsure, take your 10km PB and add 8-10mins to the time. If you don’t have a 10km time, run the first 5km at a controlled pace, where breathing is sustainable and then aim to hold the same pace for the second. Any slower could lead to feeling sluggish and a loss of race sharpness.
11 As you approach transition, maintain a steady heart rate and breathing. If you’ve paced it right, you won’t need to slow down and will be able to effortlessly jump onto the bike to begin the next discipline.
12 Bike and running movements predominately work the same muscle groups. But the mechanics of these two movements and the muscles involved are used in different ways. During a duathlon, you have to transition twice between these two disciplines so the ‘jelly legs’ sensation that’s common in a triathlon is potentially doubled during a duathlon.
13 Similar to tri, make sure you leave your bike in a light gear in transition. If you go into a heavy gear too early it can further fatigue your legs and compromise the final run. When you begin cycling, aim to hold a high cadence for a couple of minutes. This’ll aid recovery from the previous run, help your muscles adapt to the action and help get your bike legs back quicker. Once settled, shift up a few gears, relax into your position and begin applying the power.
14 During the bike leg, there’s a good chance that your body, especially the legs, will be feeling much more fatigued than in a tri. Your body may be in greater calorie deficit after the first run than it’s used to after a swim. So it’s important to replace these lost calories immediately and reboost your energy. That’s why it’s not uncommon to have a different nutrition plan for a duathlon compared to a tri. Practising different nutrition strategies during duathlon brick sessions will ensure that the muscles are quickly replenished and power maintained.
“By T2, the wobbly bike legs are accompanied by the feeling of an elephant strapped to your back”
THE FINAL RUN
15 Transitioning onto the final run and you’re back in familiar triathlon territory. But this time, the wobbly bike legs are accompanied by the feeling of an elephant strapped to your back! This is what makes duathlon so challenging and why it’s common for the final run to feel like your legs are full of cement. Just remember that is a completely natural feeling to experience.
16 As you begin to approach transition, like you did when you got on the bike, move into a light gear and increase the cadence. This’ll help the legs recover from the heavier gear and accelerate the transition to your running legs.
17 It’s important that you don’t go full gas as you may run the risk of cramping. Start steady and aim to find your rhythm quickly. Keep control of your breathing and try and maintain a high cadence as this’ll make your running feel more efficient (long strides will only add unnecessary fatigue to an already exhausted pair of legs). As you approach the finishing chute – having paced the race to perfection – it’ll be time to unleash the last drops of energy: crossing the finish line, arms in the air, you are now a duathlete!
Learning how to pace the first duathlon run is imperative to a successful race