Don’t Forget Duathlon

Don’t Forget Duathlon

I recently had a couple athletes join Team NEO who are interested in getting started with in duathlon. Then I got an email from a local cyclist/runner asking about the sport. This made me realize that sometimes we forget duathlon in the world of multisport. In fact, there are many disciplines that make up multisport. There is actually something for everyone!


What is duathlon?

The duathlon is a run-bike-run event.  You start with a run, transition to the bike, then transition back to the run. Transitions, like triathlon, are a timed part of the race. Distances of each event can vary, and the races are classified as short, intermediate, and long course events, as well as ultra.  Often the first and second run distances are the same to utilize the same course, but they don’t have to be. For example, you might see a race with a 5k/40k/10k format, or the other way around of 10k/40k/5k like at the ITU Duathlon World Championships. For more information on how distances are classified, USA Triathlon has a good duathlon reference page.


What makes duathlon interesting?

Training for a duathlon is not like training for a triathlon but skipping the swimming. This is because your first event, the first run, it a lot more taxing on the legs and body than the swim in a triathlon. Talk to any duathlete and ask how the bike felt after the first run… it’s a different kind of heavy legs. That’s why training for this transition, which you might not get in a standard triathlon training regime, is critical.


Learning how to pace the runs is also important. I remember my first duathlon, which was a 5k/17mi/5k format. The first run I ran a “comfortable” pace. I was breathing hard but felt really comfortable and could be cordial to the athletes around me. Then I got through the bike and hit the second run. While I was running at about the same pace as the first run, my perceived exertion went from about a 6 to a 8.5-9. I was pretty much just holding on. Had I taken the first 5k out hard, I am sure the bike and second run would have suffered.


Who should race a duathlon?

I think triathletes should “do the Du” for a different kind of challenge and it’s a great fitness building event. People interested in multisport but don’t have easy access to a pool, aren’t interested in swimming (though I highly recommend it as a cross-training and recovery tool), or perhaps have slightly more limited time should try duathlon as well.

Maybe you like mountain biking and trail running like a lot of people do here in Colorado. If that describes you, try an off-road duathlon! Here in Colorado we’ve also got the Chilly Cheeks Winter Duathlon Series, and coming up on November 2 here in Colorado Springs is the Dirty Duathlon.

Athletes running at the 2012 Dirty Duathlon.

Athletes running at the 2012 Dirty Duathlon.

If you are a runner that likes to cycle a bit, or a cyclist that likes to run, get a duathlon on your “things to do” calendar and enjoy!



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Nicole Odell


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