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
2012 Northern Grrrl Finishers at Iron Girl- Bloomington!
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.
This past weekend many of my boot camp participants and friends participated in the first annual Chick-uamegon 5K & 10K. Despite temperatures in the high 30’s and pouring rain and sleet, over 250 women suited up in the obligatory bling required for an all girl race and hit the pavement.
Pre-Race while we all still were dry and warm. Many of our GRRRLS are missing from this photo but we had quite a crew!
This is a huge number of women for a brand new event in rural northern Wisconsin. I have long understood the appeal of all female races. I have run the Run Like a Diva half marathons in two different locations and have participated in many Iron Girl events across the Midwest. Women athletes empower each other. They’re more supportive of each other in training and throughout the race course. There is a sense of female bonding that takes place and that alone is motivation enough for some women to lace up those athletic shoes each day.
The Northern Grrrls took the race preparations one step further with some additional female bonding over the crafy development of our race fluffies (gigantic furry leg warmers) and tutus. Simple online tutorials on making fluffies and tutus walked us through a night of silly craft making. It was a great way for us to get our creative energy out while ensuring that my house will never ever be glitter free again. At least I cannot say that these events don’t bring *sparkle*to my life…
Showing off our fluffies! These looked more like leg dreadlocks after the mud and rain got to them, but they kept us toasty warm!
In short, it would not have mattered how cold and wet it was on Saturday morning… these ladies were NOT going to miss this event. There were so many women and little girls who were excited and dressed up and ready to meet the weather just so they could surround themselves with other strong women and support each other throughout the event. I think that is what it is really about – that ancient instinct to stand together as women and support and nurture each other. Maybe Helen Reddy said it best…♪♪♫♫♪♪
I am woman, hear me roar In numbers too big to ignore And I know too much to go back an’ pretend ’cause I’ve heard it all before And I’ve been down there on the floor No one’s ever gonna keep me down again
With as many challenges as every women has each day I love that racing and fitness can bring us together in a positive way and make each one of us roar just a little bit louder.