Did you know USA Triathlon has a Duathlon Committee? Check out this article on my new site to find out what they “du” and their plans to grow the sport in 2019 and beyond. PS: Follow duitforyou.com to keep getting updates! gorunbikerun.wordpress.com will go away in January.
Hi! gorunbikerun.wordpress.com has moved. For all the same, somewhat frequent duathlon news, training tips and other info, please visit duitforyou.com.
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See you soon! And remember: Don’t Just Tri. Du.
Are you a runner or cyclist interested in trying something new? Or have you recently started exercising regularly and want a challenge outside the gym?
Many budding athletes turn to triathlon as their first multisport event. But nearly as many say they either struggle with or just really don’t like to swim. More skip multisport altogether because they can’t fit in the time to swim, don’t have access to a pool and can’t afford all the extra gear.
There is a way to get your feet wet (figuratively speaking!) in multisport without sticking a toe in the water.
What is a duathlon?
Duathlon is a run-bike-run event, with distances ranging from 2-mile runs and 7-mile rides to longer events that incorporate 10K runs and 25-plus mile bike rides. It’s like triathlon without the swim. Racing Underground has a good primer on the sport. Check it out.
Don’t you have to ski?
No! That’s biathlon, a totally different event that involves XC skiing and shooting.
Why is duathlon good for beginners?
Let me count the ways!
You don’t have to swim.
I like the water. I like splashing around in it, floating in it, even kinda-sorta swimming in it. But I’m no good at swimming laps. To improve, I would have to spend money on lessons and spend regular time in the pool.
To compete in triathlon, I’d have to invest in a wetsuit (or rent one for each race), some good goggles and a swim cap. I’d have to spend a time each week fighting traffic to drive to a pool, swimming, and driving again. Who has that kind of time? I don’t. I’d rather spend my free time on sports I like—cycling and running.
Duathlon is more affordable and time-efficient. You can run or ride right from your front door. Or, if you don’t live in an area where it’s safe to exercise outside, you can do both at the gym.
It’s better for your health.
How many times have you heard about triathlons canceling the swim due to polluted water, hazardous bacteria, or strong currents? In other cases, athletes struggle with hypothermia, heart palpitations, or injuries from getting kicked by aggressive swimmers.
International events organized under ITU must adhere to water quality standards. You can read all about the risks and water quality standards here.
Locally, health departments aren’t required to post warnings about bacteria unless levels exceed EPA standards. And don’t forget to consider pollution caused by fracking, oil spills and human inconsiderateness.
Don’t put yourself at risk of some nasty illness or infection. Stay warm and run.
You can fit it into your life.
Like I mentioned earlier, if I had to factor swimming into my training schedule, it would cut into my job. My career is more important to me than flopping around in the pool, so I don’t waste my time on swimming.
Instead, I’m up by 4:30 a.m. to run, ride the bike or a little of both before work. For you, it may be easier to train after work, eat a healthy dinner and chill out a little before bed.
If it’s logistically not possible to get out on your road bike before or after work, put in some quality time on the spin bike at the gym. You’ll get aerobic benefits and generally work the same muscles as you would on a road bike. You can also invest in a bike trainer. These handy devices let you ride your road bike indoors.
You can find good, reasonably affordable trainers for a few hundred bucks. Search on Craigslist for even better deals. Because they take up space in the closet, and because so many people give up on using them, you’ll find a lot of used trainers for sale.
The races are less complicated.
For a triathlon, you’d have to pack up stuff for three sports the morning of the race, including a bike, a wetsuit and various shoes and clothes. In T1, you’ll have to manage slipping out of a sticky wetsuit and goggles, into bike shoes, helmet and whatever else you need. After the race, when you’re tired and stiff, you’ll have to gather up all the stuff, pack it back into your car and lug it into your house. To accomplish this, you might need a bike rack. Or a bigger car.
Why not keep it simple? With duathlon, you only need stuff for two sports. Because I have a smaller-frame bike (I’m 5’4″) I can fit my bike into the trunk of my Honda Civic. I fit everything else into a duffel bag and go. Admittedly, standalone running events are way easier to manage, but duathlon is also pretty low on the hassle factor.
If you don’t have a bike, you can rent one for $35 to $50/day or borrow one. In transition, all you really have to worry about are the shoes and the helmet.
You don’t need fancy stuff.
Look at the lead groups in any triathlon or duathlon and you’ll see them hunkered down on amazing machines. Those high-end time trial bikes can cost more than a new Honda Fit!
Don’t be intimidated by those pricey, beautiful machines. You can perform quite well on a regular road bike. If all you have is a hybrid or mountain bike, use it! The power in your legs and your lungs account for 95 percent of your speed on the bike. Some races even have categories for fat tires and old-school setups (regular bikes, no aerobars).
Duathletes are a friendly bunch. With a few exceptions (which you’ll find in any race), you’ll find a supportive community that wants you “du” well and come back.
You’ll also enjoy a low-key atmosphere. It’s way less intimidating to do your first du with a group of 80 than a field of 3,000. (And no one will kick you in the head!)
My first race was the “Du For Fun” duathlon in the middle of nowhere, northern California. There were 50 people maybe in the race.
Not knowing any better, I went out like a rocket. Near the end of the second run, I was spent! But I had a great time!
I loved the challenge, the friendly atmosphere, and the opportunity to combine two sports I loved—running and cycling—into one mondo event. I competed in more duathlons after that, including local and regional races and national and world championships. I became part of a close-kit community that’s passionate about duathlon.
So. If you want to try something new remember my slogan. “Don’t just tri. Du.”
Du it for fun. Du it for you.
See you out there!
PS: Any questions about duathlon? Anything you’d like to add or share? Share it in the comments below!
You’ve recovered from your final “A-goal” triathlon or duathlon. You’re looking forward to a lengthy off-season where you can let go of “training” mode. You may even use your gym membership.
If you love to race, it won’t take long before the urge to compete returns. Instead of waiting until spring to shake off the cobwebs, incorporate a fall duathlon or two.
Because it is the off-season, take the pressure off yourself. Don’t focus on a PR or a certain place in your age group. Frame any off-season races as hard training days or as time to sharpen skills. Focus on improving your transition time. Improve your cornering and descending skills. Practice good running form. When the New Year hits (and it will be here before you know it!) you’ll be prepared for an even better 2019.
Fall is an ideal time for duathlon. It’s too cold to swim anyway, so why not run-bike-run? You may find, like I do, that you love the relative simplicity and challenge that duathlon brings.
Fall duathlons from coast to coast
You can find duathlons almost anywhere you can find triathlons. Some cold-weather states (Minnesota comes to mind) have even more robust duathlon scenes because, well, swimming is cold most of the year.
Here’s a sampling of good stuff I found:
• On the west coast, you’ve got the Catalina Island Duathlon and the Marin County Sprint or Olympic Du on November 3. Note: Prepare to shell out a whopping $155 for the Marin County sprint du or $250 for the Olympic distance. Ridiculous. On second thought, skip this.
For SF Bay Area folks, my first and only choice for an early 2019 race is Du 3 Bears on Jan. 26. Choose from a short or long course or a relay. It’s managed by Wolf Pack Events, veteran duathlete Wolf Hillesheim’s company, which hosts duathlons and runs throughout the year.
• Florida, which has lots of warm water, likes duathlon too. There’s the Bill Bone sprint du on Nov. 4, in Lake Worth, and the Half-Iron Duathlon in Miami—aka the USAT Long Course Duathlon National Championship—Nov. 11. Clermont has a sprint duathlon series that runs through November.
• Louisiana: Check out the River Roux Duathlon in New Roads, Nov. 10. Or, the Dust-buster Duathlon on Jan. 6 in Shreveport.
• If you live near Navasota, Texas, check out the Dirt in Your Shoe Du on Dec. 8. It’s short, but it has a great name!
This is just a quick scan of races across the U.S. What are your favorite fall races? Tell us in the comments below!
What’s considered the toughest and most prestigious duathlon, the ITU Long Distance World Duathlon Championships, Powerman Zofingen, took over that lovely Swiss city the first weekend of September.
On Twitter, I promised I’d compile race reports for an upcoming blog. To date, there aren’t many full reports, but I did find some good nuggets of info about this epic event.
First, here is the official report from ITU. Switzerland and France took the wins, with Petra Eggenschwiler (SUI) claiming the women’s title and French athlete Gaël Le Bellec winning the men’s race for the third time.
Check out the full report for photos and a list of top finishers.
One thing I noticed when perusing the results (particularly in my age group): the times appear to be faster this year than last. Is the new bike course faster than the old? If anyone has insights, please share!
Here’s the profile of the 2018 bike loop, which athletes complete three times:
A view from the top
In his inaugural Zofingen race, dominant U.S. athlete Albert Harrison finished sixth in the elite men’s race with a blazing-fast 6:25:52.
He published one of the few race reports I could find, and it’s a thorough one. He starts with the training, shares his goals and continues with his thoughts on the race and USA Triathlon’s lack of support for its duathletes.
He was on TV too. A lot.
Most inspirational athlete
One of the most inspiring tidbits I found came from the Twittersphere. Blind athlete Fernando Raino didn’t just finish Powerman Zofingen. He finished strong.
WBU 1st Vicepresident #FernandoRiaño wins World Championship after a hard race held in Zofingen, Switzerland- 2018 Zofingen ITU Powerman Long Distance Duathlon World Championships- he’s won 3Triathlon World Cups, 1Triathlon World Championship& national titles @attitudefr_go pic.twitter.com/YCZx9a4jQ9
— World Blind Union (@BlindUnion) September 20, 2018
For random info about Powerman Zofingen, including its history and a general course description, check out my post from September 1.
Got anything to add re: the 2018 Zofingen ITU Powerman Long Distance Duathlon World Championships? Please share in the comments below! We’d love to hear your story.
By Steven Jonas MD, MPH
This my third essay in a series on the mental aspects of multisport racing. For the first two, I talked about mental discipline being central to both training and racing: understanding why we are doing what we are doing, being rational about how we go about it in our training and our racing, and staying focused on what we are doing in both. That is, rationally staying within our limits, even as, over time, we may expand them.
I talked about the power of the mind on a day-to-day basis and over time. Understanding that power and using it effectively are both necessary to stay in control and to stay safe; to manage both our race training schedules and the races themselves.
And then we have the mental aspects of our relationships with others, in both training and racing.
How “du” you keep your relationship thriving while training for duathlon and/or triathlon? Share your advice below!
Duathlon involves give and take
Multisport racing is, as anyone who does it knows, time-demanding. We have to train regularly in two or three sports. While I do two workouts a day only on days when I do my weekly swim (yes, you read that right: I only do sprint tris now. One swim workout a week suffices), and my training program—still the one that I wrote for “Triathloning for Ordinary Mortals”—averages just five hours a week, some of us do double workouts 2-3 days a week.
Travel to races usually takes a minimum of four days over race weekend. Out-of-town races also require significant expenditures. Depending upon how many you do, and their cost, you might not be able to take straight vacations.
All of these considerations have an impact—sometimes major—on relationships. Those of us who have been in the sport for some time know how physically and mentally rewarding multisport is. But we also have to be aware of what we give up.
Many years ago, I gave up an otherwise lovely relationship because my partner became totally jealous of my racing and training. She essentially wanted me to cut way down on both my training and my racing. I simply was not ready to do that. Further, I could not convince her that doing what I was doing actually contributed to our relationship because of it made me feel better about myself and it made me healthier, which made me a better person for our relationship. And so, it came to an end.
On the other hand, there is give and take on these matters. Looking back, I sometimes wonder if there were other reasons why I wanted to leave that particular relationship and used triathlon and duathlon as an excuse to end it. Of course, no one will never know.
Find balance in training, racing and relationship
What I do know is that if one wants to participate in triathlon/duathlon and be in a relationship at the same time, whether a marriage or another, one does have to find balance in one’s training and racing. Fortunately, I was eventually able to do that. That is a major reason why I am now looking forward to beginning my 36th season in the sport.
I have been married to my current wife for seven years and we have been together for 19 years (half my total time in the sport). I do fewer and shorter races that I used to, which means that I need to train less than I used to (although part of both those factors is age-related). When it made sense to, especially on foreign travel races, she went with me.
But she has also made some give-ups, in terms of my training and racing time, because she knows how important both are to me, both physically and psychologically. As I have said before, perfectionism is the enemy of the possible. On the other hand, if you stay focused, balanced and prepared to make some give-ups along the way, you can find happiness in both your training and racing and your relationships.
** A version of this column originally appeared on the USA Triathlon blog, Talking Tri-/Duathlon for Ordinary Mortals®: A Series, (No. 51, 2018/03), March 1, 2018, and is used with permission.
2018 marks Dr. Steve Jonas’ 36thseason of multisport racing. He began the season with a total of 255 dus and tris. He is a member of USA Triathlon’s Triathlon Century Club and is in the 90’s for duathlon. He has raced up to the Ironman distance, but now at 81, he is sticking to the sprints in both duathlon and triathlon.
Steve is a prolific author of books on multi-sport racing. His first (originally published in 1986) was The 2nd Ed. (New York: W.W. Norton, 2006) is still in print. In 2012, he published a book exclusively devoted to duathlon: Duathlon Training and Racing for Ordinary Mortals®: Getting Started and Staying with It(Guilford, CT: Globe Pequot Press/FalconGuides, 2012). All of his books on multi-sport are available at Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com. He is also long-time writer for various multisport periodicals, including the USA Triathlon Blog. He very happily joined Du It For You in 2016.