Your first duathlon can be daunting and overwhelming. But when your first race comes around, you should keep things simple and have fun. Here are a few tips that will help you achieve that goal.
Keep things simple. All you need is a bike, helmet, water bottle, clothing, and running shoes for your first race. After first gaining experience then you can decide what equipment you want to upgrade or add.
You should do at least one practice race 2-4 weeks before your race. Try to mimic the course and conditions which will be present on race day as much as possible. Practice race day nutrition and hydration as well as it is crucial to know what your body will need on race day instead of experimenting on your race day. Wear the same gear. Practice quick transitions. Take notes of what you learned and what you need to improve upon.
Practice bike/run workouts at least 3 times before race day. The more you do it, the easier it will be on race day. It is generally recommend 1 bike/run workout per week.
Be consistent in your training. You don’t have to put in big hours, but being consistent on a weekly basis is one of the most important factors to your success in training.
Strategically adding intensity is another key to going faster. If you have a good base, add intensity 2-3 times/week. This can include faster than race pace intensity lasting 1-4 minutes (e.g. 5X2 minutes or 400 meters). Race pace intensity should last from 5-20 minutes at a time (e.g. 3X8 minutes at race pace). Slower than race pace intensity might last longer. With intensity in your training plan it’s important to keep your easy days easy so you can recover in between hard workouts.
Unless you are doing a very long race (4 hours+), don’t plan on eating any solid foods during the race. You might find them easy to digest in training, but at high intensity during a race it can be very difficult to digest. The easiest source of calories is gels and drinks.
Most athletes won’t need any calories during a race for events under 1 hour, and many experienced athletes can go 1.5-2 hours in a race before needing to fuel. Events above 2 hours will require caloric intake.
On race morning practice moving through transition in the same flow you will use for the race. Note where you bike is. It’s easy to get confused in the heat of a race.
Restrain yourself on the first run. If your goal is to run 5:00 km, start out at exactly that pace. This means that the first km of the first run should feel fairly relaxed. This will result in a faster overall time while feeling easier. Most experienced athletes have difficulty mastering this concept.
Don’t sit down during your transition. Everything can be done much faster while standing.
99% of your competitors aren’t judging first-time athletes. They are focused on their own race and they are usually very supportive and helpful. If you need help just ask.
Take notes of your experience soon after the race. Use them as a guide to improve your strategy for the next race, and pass them along to your friends or training partners planning for their first race.
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