If you are like most people you may find the idea of a triathlon intimidating because of the swim portion. There is something very scary about an open water swim if you do not consider yourself the equivalent of Michael Phelps. For most of the population an open water swim with hundreds of other people is terrifying.
ENTER: the duathlon. All the fun and none of the fright
Do not confuse a duathlon with a biathlon (the Olympic term for skiing and shooting at the same time). A duathlon is a run-bike-run combination and they vary in length from short to ultra distances. Duathlons are growing in popularity and popular events series like the Iron Girl have added them to their line-ups. The Iron Girl- Bloomington duathlon is one of my favorite annual “must do” events!
How do you train for a duathlon?
Good news… if you can run and bike you can complete a duathlon. I have found at many of the duathlons there is not any rule to the kind of bike and gear you need. You need a bike- be it a cruiser, mountain bike, or road bike, running shoes, and a helmet. Some basic bike maintenance knowledge is helpful in case you get a flat, but there are always support vans on the course too just in case!
As with any event you do need to train. The kind of training will depend on the length of the duathlon course. A 12-week training program such as this one will get you started, but as with any new training program be sure to get the A-OK from your physician. To train properly you should plan to spend 9-12 hours per week to training. This is only a recommended amount of training time- depending on where you fall in the fitness spectrum you may need more or less. Strength training, over the winter months will also be beneficial to your overall fitness.
This is also an excellent link for a beginner training plan. You will begin to get the idea as you look through these. Don’t get caught up in the message boards about expensive gear and what you will need unless you plan to try to place in your age group or will be aggressively racing. Just have fun with it. The ladies I have trained for the duathlon have loved every minute of the race and it really is for anyone. I think I love the Athleta Iron Girl Series so much because it is overflowing with positive inspiring women of all ages and abilities.
SO GO DU IT!