A watch I didn’t have time to set up, a wheel I forgot to check I’d put back on correctly, and the worst case of jelly legs I’d had in a long time. I’m surprised I even finished the Velopark Duathlon last weekend. Not only did I finish, I actually beat my own expectations and ran and biked faster than I thought I would. Bonus!
Read on for my dos and don’ts of duathlons.
About the Race
I had needed a reason to get out on my bike. Unfortunately it’s been a little neglected of late and I’ve been looking at it longingly as I walk past our spare room (its new home while we’ve been rebuilding our shed). So when Elle told me about the Velopark Women’s Only Duathlon I signed up almost immediately. Held at the track that runs around the 2012 Olympics Velodrome it seemed like a fantastic opportunity to take in the sights of the famous Stadium, the Aquatics Centre and the ArcelorMittal Orbit, all this and it’s only 30 minutes’ drive from me!
With its one mile road track the Velopark is perfect for short-distance duathlons. No junctions to navigate or traffic to worry about, and a simple route that allows you to focus on your race. All races held by Velopark Duathlon are run by volunteers from London triathlon clubs and there are options for seniors, women only and kids.
At only £10 for Triathlon England members, and £17 for non-members (including a “day licence”) the races are very reasonable – most duathlons I know of are £30-40+.
For more information about Velopark Duathlon races head to: http://www.veloparkduathlon.com/
My Duathlon Dos and Don’ts
plan your journey – will you take the train? If so, can you take your bike and kit with you easily? Or will you drive? If so, make sure your bike fits without too much faffing around!
prepare your kit the night before – it will save you rushing around in the morning when you’ll probably already have pre-race nerves. Lay out all the kit you’ll need and choose your race outfit, preparing for the elements.
read the course information – key points such as where to rack your bike, what side of the track to run on, overtaking courtesies, etc. are very important. Familiarise yourself with them.
forget to test your bike after a journey – if you’ve taken your bike by car and had to take the wheel off to fit it in, make sure you check it’s all running smoothly again. I gave my wheel a quick spin and checked the brakes weren’t rubbing, but didn’t have time to give it a quick test ride and was nervous all the way through the first run that my bike wouldn’t work!
be afraid to run “naked” – running without a watch can sometimes be liberating! And who knows, you might end up running faster if you go by “feel” rather than by pace.
train properly for the race – having not done
much any training I wasn’t expecting miracles, but my experience of triathlons and duathlons in the past at least prepared me for what to expect in the last run leg. If you haven’t done a duathlon then you definitely need to do a brick session (run/bike/run, or at the very least bike/run).
leave your transition area in a mess – I got told off for this at the end of the race, and although I’m fairly sure it was a case of mistaken identity, it’s worth mentioning. It will help you, but also your fellow racers, if your transition area is organised and you know exactly where everything is and should be. Some people use coloured tags on things to help them identify them quickly, others keep their kit in distinct sections. Whatever works for you.
leave your laps to chance – if your race has multiple laps then consider how you will keep track of these. Most races state that you must count your own laps. My method was just to count the lap aloud as I rode past the transition area, luckily this was enough for me but I wish I’d gone with Jen’s clever idea of numbered stickers on her handlebars.
consider clipless pedals – I didn’t wear them for my race, but clipless pedals do give better comfort for the ride, as well as preventing your feet slipping off the pedals and aiding in power output. Practice in them first though to save embarrassment!
practice hills – no matter how much you stick your head in the sand, hills are going to happen. You have to face that! Having good practice riding and running up hills you can really gain an advantage in a race.
keep to a lower gear – especially towards the end of your bike section. If you spin the wheels a little faster for the last couple of laps you will find the transition from bike to run a lot easier. Of course it will still be like running on dead legs, but at least they’ll be freshly spun dead legs!
forget a winner’s sprint finish – as you get to the finish line be sure to pick up the pace and garnish your sweaty face with a big smile – you just raced a duathlon, after all!
For more tips on duathlon racing check out my friend Jen’s blog post here.
Photos courtesy of Velopark Duathlon.