A duathlon is a two-sport race which involves running and cycling in three stages (run-bike-run). A duathlon is great for those looking to move into multi-sport racing but may not be comfortable with an open water swim or for triathletes who cannot get in the open water over winter.
Similar to its counterpart triathlon, duathlons come in multiple distances to suit all competitors from beginners to seasoned athletes.
2.5 km run, 10 km bike, 2.5 km run.
5 km run, 20 km bike, 5 km run.
10 km run, 40 km bike, 5 km run.
10 km run, 150 km bike, 30 km run.
If you can run and you can cycle, you are more than capable of completing a duathlon.
When training for this multisport race, whilst it’s great to focus on the individual sports, you need to get familiar with training one sport after another. This is called a brick session. Brick sessions prepare you for what it feels like to run after having jelly legs from cycling and visa versa. They are also great for building endurance and testing out your transitions, which can be tricky on race day if you are new and nervous.
The first run of any duathlon is where you’re going to be the least fatigued, so you’re going to want to set off at your fast pace, whilst retaining energy for the bike and second run ahead. This is particularly important to practice, as you don’t want to use all your energy speeding off in the first leg, and have your other transitions suffer. If you can’t get outside and train, you can always complete a brick session at the gym.
One of the bonuses of duathlon is that you don’t need as much kit as you do for triathlon events as there’s no call for a wetsuit. When it comes to duathlon clothing, the jury's out. Some people will argue that cycling shorts and a bib are fine, whilst others will suggest this is like running in a nappy and terribly awkward. Those with a tougher bum or padded seat may opt for a regular running short - which typically will be okay for shorter distances. The most popular option is to go for a tri suit or tri shorts and top. The tri suit is designed with a lighter chamois pad making a comfier ride, but without distracting your run. You can view our Sundried Tri Suits crafted with the finest Italian fabrics for the ultimate comfort here via our triathlon shop.
When it comes to footwear, it’s best to wear what you’ve been training in. In order to limit your time in transition, if you have a pair of trainers you can bike and run in, you may save time, however some people will want to wear their cleats in order to pick up the most speed on the ride. If so ensure you have speed laces and socks which are suited to both trainers - or go sockless.
Once you get a taste for a multi-sport discipline, we guarantee you’ll be wanting to check out our guide to triathlon.
Think duathlon might be for you? You can find some races you might like to enter on our events page.
The time has absolutely flown since I signed up for the duathlon and suddenly it's all over! I absolutely loved every second of it and I'm so glad I did it. It's made me realise that multi-sport is definitely for me and so I've got even more confidence to do the triathlon next year. You can read how I go on in my race report but it's safe to say I had a great time.
I've now got road shoes and cleats as well as Shimano pedals for my bike so that's the last piece of the puzzle when it comes to having all the gear! As with the cycle shorts and jersey, I got the Shimano road shoes second hand on eBay in order to save money. As with the Castelli gear, I chose Shimano as this is the biggest brand in the game so I knew I would be getting a great pair of shoes. I bought my Shimano pedals from Wiggle which is an independent retailer of all things multi-sport. The pedals come with cleats, but you need to make sure the cleats will fit the pedals as there are different sizes and shapes for different makes and models. I was a little apprehensive about clipping into the pedals, but it was an absolute breeze and now I can't imagine riding without them! It really does make a huge difference to speed and power on the bike.
I started out not even knowing how to ride a road bike so I'm really pleased with how far I've come. The London To Southend Bike Ride and The Garmin Ride Out have both given me all the confidence i need on the bike, even around motorists, so it now feels like second nature to get on, clip in, and head out on a 30 mile+ ride. I've also got my women's performance tri-suit from Sundried to race and train in for multi-sport events so I really feel the part! After attending the Brighton Triathlon with Sundried, I saw a lot of really beautiful bikes which has given me an itch to buy myself a newer, better, far more snazzy road bike! My Boardman is great but it's definitely an entry level bike and I struggled to keep up on the Garmin Ride Out as everyone else had such awesome bikes. That's a goal for next year, to invest in a better bike.
With my A-race for next year being the Olympic (standard) distance at the London Triathlon, I've decided I should probably do a small, shorter tri in preparation. I have therefore decided to do Hanningfield Triathlon which takes place in May and will do the sprint distance. I think this will be the perfect warm-up for London and will give me the confidence I need to take on such a huge event. Hanningfield Triathlon takes place at Hanningfield Reservoir near Billericay in Essex so it's more of a local event and the lake/reservoir swim promises to be a little calmer than a sea swim. It'll be good to make mistakes and learn from this experience before taking on the bigger challenge in London.
I've also entered another duathlon which will be squeezed in before the season ends for this year. I've entered the sprint distance at Windsor Duathlon which takes place surrounding Dorney Lake. I decided to take on the longer challenge now that I've done a super-sprint and enjoyed it so much. This promises to be a lovely event in a stunning location and will keep the momentum going through the winter months.
I have entered the ballot for the Prudential RideLondon 100 miler so fingers crossed for that! I'm also keeping a keen eye out on entries opening for the London Triathlon.
The final thing is that it's time to start the swimming lessons! I said I would start them once Bowood Duathlon was out of the way so it's time to get going. I'm not sure how I'll feel about the swimming but I'm not a huge fan of running (I prefer cycling) so doing 2 runs in a duathlon or 1 swim and 1 run in a triathlon doesn't really make much difference to me!
Stay tuned to see how I get on in the pool!
I have now started my 12-week training plan for the Bowood House Duathlon which I will be doing in October. Between now and the event, I have also signed up for a 10k which is in August and a half marathon which is in September, so I've got plenty to keep me ticking over! I find that having goals and events to train for keeps me motivated.
The training plan features lots of brick workouts, which is when you go from one sport to another, i.e. run then bike. This gets your body used to multisport training so that when you get to the event there are no surprises!
It's a fairly simple training plan but with events like this it's just important to get the miles in to get your body accustomed to the effort. I think my biggest challenge will be the long rides. I really struggle cycling on the roads as motorists in the local area and not friendly towards cyclists and there are lots of hazards meaning it's difficult to get up to any kind of speed.
The video below was recorded by Sundried's Dan who shows the sort of hazards I mean. The video shows the places where I cycle and why I struggle so much!
However, I'm hoping that after a few longer training rides it will become easier as I get more used to it. I also have the London To Southend Bike Ride this weekend which is 50 miles so that will be a really good test of where I'm at with my cycling! I'll keep you posted!
Read the next instalment - Couch To Triathlon (10) - Triathlon Decided!
Training continues for the triathlon and it's still going great! I completed my longest ride to date last weekend, cycling 20 miles round the country lanes of Essex. It was the first time I've gone for a proper spin on the road bike, especially on roads open to traffic (as I usually stick to dedicated cycle paths). It was great fun, and once I was out in the sticks it was really quite enjoyable. Who knew there was someone around the corner from me that has a llama farm!? That was quite a find. The only downside is the motorists. At this point, I'm wondering if I'll ever get used to the feeling of a lorry thundering past me with only an inch of space, or the speed at which people approach junctions while I'm cycling past. I can't shake the feeling that it only takes one idiot one time to make one mistake and that could be me in a heap on the roadside. But still, I persevere, especially as cycling round town is much better for both me and the environment than driving. My car hasn't moved in a week! I have set myself a goal of cycling 40k (roughly 25 miles) next weekend so I'll let you know how that goes.
The running is also going fantastically. I ran a comfortable 5 miles at the weekend and although my feet were killing me the whole time, I can honestly say I enjoyed it. I was sweaty and starving when I got back, but the feeling of achievement definitely overpowered that. It's the longest run I've done since I stopped running last year, and now I'm aiming to run my first 10k in a year this weekend. One of the biggest challenges I find is actually just deciding where to run! Living in a seaside town, the seafront is an obvious choice. But having run that same route countless times over the past few years, it gets a bit boring after a while, and there's nothing worse than a boring route to make a run feel like it's going on forever. So I'm looking at some new routes I can test out.
I still haven't done any swimming training or taken any swimming lessons, but one step at a time. The cycling and running are coming on in leaps and bounds and that's all I need in the lead up to the duathlon that I've entered in October. Once I've completed that, I'll look at getting my swimming up to standard a little more.
I am also on a personal weight loss journey at the moment, which is definitely being helped by all the cycling and running! I mentioned in the first post of this blog series that I have changed my diet from high fat - low carb to high carb - low fat, and it seems to be taking my body a little while to adjust. Our MD at Sundried followed the 5:2 diet very strictly for a long time and swears by it for dropping body fat - and it clearly works as he's sitting at about 6%. The premise of the 5:2 diet is that for 2 days a week you only consume 500 calories, and then for the rest of the week you eat normally. Now, I absolutely do not believe in fad diets and I do not condone them whatsoever. However, the concept of intermittent fasting - which is the underlying foundation for this diet - is one that has been tried and tested by athletes for many years and is a widely accepted means for dropping body fat in not only the fitness community but the spiritual one too. So I'm going to compromise, and eat 500 calories for 1 day a week while eating normally for the other 6. That 500 calorie day happens to be tomorrow so I'll be sure to let you know how that goes! Eek!
Read the next instalment - Couch To Triathlon (6) - Slow And Steady Wins The Race
So training is well under way now for my first triathlon and I am feeling more motivated than ever! I've been really getting back into running and have reignited the flame for it. I use the Garmin Forerunner 735XT Triathlon watch to track my runs and it can become a little addictive if you're not careful! What I love about it is that it has wrist-based heart rate tracking so I can check my working heart rate and my resting heart rate. It also counts my steps and it's easy to analyse the data online with the Garmin Connect App. I can also use it to track my cycling and swimming (although I haven't done any swimming yet!)
I've really managed to get to grips with the road bike now which is great, no more toppling off every time I need to stop! I've been for a few moderate rides, around 10 miles, and I have set myself a goal to complete a 40km ride within a few months. It's just so nerve-wracking cycling on the roads with angry drivers all around! I know that this is something all cyclists experience though, and now that I cycle it has humbled me as a motorist.
I have also now signed up for a 10k race in August and a duathlon in October! I have completed several local 10ks before so I've gone for one which is slightly further afield for me, the Bearbrook 10k near Aylesbury. I have visited this part of the country before and fell in love with it as it's so green and idyllic so I'm hoping this is a great run! The duathlon will be my first and should be excellent preparation for the triathlon as it'll give me a chance to practice the transition from cycling to running without having to worry about the swimming just yet. I have entered the Bowood House Super Sprint Duathlon, which is a 2.5km run - 10km bike - 2.5km run. I chose to enter a Super Sprint as it is the most beginner-friendly option, but there are Sprint options too which are slightly longer. I have plenty of time to train for this race so I should be well prepared on the day.
I have started looking at options for which triathlon to enter when the time comes; I want to avoid open water for my first one as this is an added peril and there is the hassle of getting in and out of a wet suit, so I'm looking at courses with pool-based swims.
I am really looking forward to the races I've entered, and continuing with my training as it's going so well! My fitness and endurance have improved so much already which is really motivating. I'm also hoping to lose some weight during the process of all this training as I am slightly uncomfortable with where I am at the moment. So watch this space as I update you with any PBs I get!
Read the next instalment - Couch To Triathlon (5) - Motorists Are Scary