A lot of preparation, perspiration and dedication go into getting ready for a duathlon event. However, it’s so much more than just practicing your sprinting pace or taking extra spin classes. Tackling such a challenging race takes mental strength and a high level of commitment; you need to ensure that all areas of your wellbeing are on top form before such an undertaking. Taking a holistic approach to your training means making sure that all of your needs are met and you’re in the best shape possible.
The key to a successful, stress-free race is preparation, preparation, preparation. If you’ve followed a strict training schedule in the weeks beforehand, practiced your transitions over and over, and know exactly what to expect on the day, then you’ll feel ready to go. You should take at the very least 12 weeks to prepare in advance of a duathlon. Each race and every athlete is different, but you need to include some HIIT workouts in your schedule, make sure that you’re training in “bricks” (two disciplines in one workout) and rehearse the transition between running and cycling. This will make all the difference on the day, as your body will automatically refer to your ‘muscle memory’ to get the job done leaving you to concentrate on reaching that finish line.
Good nutrition is vital if you want to push your body to the limit during a duathlon. This includes staying well hydrated; our body’s primary energy source is oxygen and its second is water so without good hydration, you’re not going anywhere fast. Make sure to eat well during the weeks and days leading up to race day, factoring in lots of carbs, lean protein and fibre. Incorporating snacking into your daily eating routine is also good practice. High protein snacks before bed in the week before the big day will help in the fuelling up process and you’ll be thankful for all that extra energy when you’re on the race track. Food and water are what our bodies run on, so the correct nutrition can make the difference between whether you finish the race or not.
Easy to overlook but vitally important for your race performance is sleep. We tend to devalue rest and sleep, thinking that it’s worth the sacrifice in order to fit in more training time. However, rest and sleep are critical components of any decent training schedule and help your body to run at optimum performance. Eight hours a night should be the absolute minimum in the weeks leading up to a duathlon race, giving your body time to rest and recover sufficiently from those punishing workouts. You should also alternate your training time with either complete rest periods or easier activities. This prevents you from reaching burn out and helps you towards that tip-top level of peak physical fitness. Booking in a few sports massages can also help take away some of the strain that you’re putting your body under as you train.
As well as getting enough sleep, you also need to take time out for yourself. This is incredibly important for your mental health as, even though you may want to eat, sleep and breathe the duathlon before it happens, realistically your brain needs a break. It’s the perfect time to catch up with that comedy show you’ve been watching, get your synapses firing over at PokerStars casino or listen to some relaxing music on Radioart. Exercising may be one of your passions in life, but you cannot neglect the others in favour of it even when you’re training for a duathlon. The best way to keep your spirits up and your body performing well is to allow yourself some ‘time out’ every so often.
Finally, though perhaps most importantly, don’t underestimate the support of those around you. Whether this is the friends and family who put up with your early morning runs (even on Sundays!) and your enormous appetite, or the fellow athletes who give you tips and advice when you’re having a tough time, be grateful for your support network. There will be times when you find the training tough, and so it’s good to know that you have people to pick you back up when you’re down. There’s also no better feeling than being able to celebrate the high of a completed duathlon with somebody who can appreciate all the effort you’ve put into it. You may be competing in the race to achieve your own goals but having someone to share in your sense of achievement can make it a hundred times more satisfying.
So, whilst it is important to have a well-planned training schedule and to get those miles in before race day, it’s important to look at other areas of your life too. After all, you want to feel good after you emerge from this event triumphant – you don’t want to force yourself over the finish line and straight into a stress injury or exhaustion. Duathlons are about pushing your limits but they’re also about feeling the best that you can be.