I’ve entered the London Duathlon. I don’t know how that happened. Actually, I do know how it happened, it happened because Limelight Sports emailed me and said ‘would you like to take part in the London Duathlon?’ and I replied, ‘I’ve never done a duathlon before so, yes, I’d love to’. With hindsight, never having done a duathlon before isn’t the best reason in the world. I’ve never plunged my head into a bubbling cauldron of crocodile sick and that’s not something I’m planning to do in the near or distant future either. Still, I got all motivated and inspired by the idea and, anyway, the super sprint is only 5k run / 11k bike / 5k run (other distances are available), and even I can do that.
But then, I realised, I haven’t got a suitable vehicle for such an undertaking. Although, at least I have got a bike (three of them in fact or, if you count all the bikes in the household, seven, or even eight if you also include the one with the engine although I’m not sure that’d be allowed on the course), unlike Rachel and Helen who are also going to be taking part.
I could borrow Shaun’s racer (or road bike or whatever they’re called these days) but, despite us being the same height and me having longer legs, it’s too high for me. Shaun likes to perch atop of it as if on a skinny shire horse, whereas I prefer to be nearer the ground, Shetland Pony style. When I tell him this, he starts banging on about efficiency in the legs or something, which is where I switch off and go back to playing Candy Crush (level 143 at the mo, in case you’re interested).
So, I need a bike. I had my eye on this one at Wiggle but Shaun compared the measurements and it’s near enough the same as his so I wouldn’t be comfortable on it. This one at Halfords (yeah, High Street, I know, but Shaun says although it’s Halfords, people won’t laugh because it’s a good bike) was £400ish cheaper the other day but now it’s gone up and I don’t know if it’s going to go down in price again soon. I will keep looking.
And when I get my bike, I’m going to need to do some training on it, i.e. practise going faster than 10mph and not braking so hard I’m only doing 5mph on the downhill bits.
If you’re a duathlon noob like me, here are some tips from RG Active:
1. Do your homework – ensure you spend some time researching the event. Look at the transport and parking for race day, building in plenty of time to get the race and not be rushing at the last minute. Try to speak to athletes that have completed the race previously and get their feedback.
2. Get the basics – the basic equipment is essential. You will need a bike, a bike helmet, a pair of running shoes and some sports clothing to take part in. Spend some time making sure that your equipment is in good working order and get your bike serviced to prevent any unwanted mechanical issues. If your running shoes are more than one year old and you have used them regularly – it is time for a new pair. Good working equipment can often prevent injuries.
3. Build using BRICK’s – What is a BRICK session? Basically a training session where you complete both running and cycling elements at least once back-to-back to give you that real race simulation session. A BRICK session can take any form, it could be a very long bike followed by a short run, or short bike followed by a long run, it could be a run/bike/run session, or even a multiple BRICK where you swap sports up to five or six times. There is no right and wrong.
4. Train Transitions – the transition phase between cycling and running is the area that causes most anxiety for beginners. To help with this, spend time thinking through what ‘your’ method will be for transition – think about bike set up, the need to change footwear (if you wish) and how to lay this out for a smooth change over. Practice this time and time again.
5. Get outdoors – Your race is outside, on roads and will most likely include hills, therefore it is important to train in this environment on a regular basis. Cycling outdoors is very different to training on an indoor bike; the hills, the road surface, the wind and the heat can all play a big part in how you ride your bike, it also means you are training on the same equipment that you will be racing on. Indoor training is helpful, and on certain training sessions where you really want to control the environment it is more advantageous, but nothing beats being outdoors.
6. Be an early bird – on the race day it is important to get to the event early, this gives you an opportunity to register, set up your transition area and watch how the race operates without the stress of feeling rushed.
I need a tip on how to find my bike in the transition area. I’m sure I’m going to forget where it is. Any duathletes out there got some tips for me?