WHAT IS A DUATHLON?
Duathlon is a multisport event that includes running and biking with a transition between the two. USA Triathlon is the governing body when sanctioned. Many duathlons are not sanctioned and are non-competitive.
HOW IS IT STRUCTURED?
Most duathlons are structured with a run-bike-run format with the transitions between legs of the event happening in a partitioned “transition area”. (Check out the Diva Du course map to learn where your transitions will be).
WHAT IS A TRANSITION AND HOW DO I DO IT? DO I CHANGE MY SHOES?
Transition is when you change from run to bike and back to run. Any changes you will make to your gear for the next leg of the competition, such as shoe changes, will happen then.
Whether or not you change your shoes depends on whether you use flat pedals, clip, or clipless pedals (see the glossary at the bottom) on your bike. If you use clipless pedals, you will have a specialized cycling shoe in which you cannot run safely. If you use flat pedals or clips, then you can ride in your running shoes.
WHAT IS THE ESSENTIAL GEAR I NEED TO GET THROUGH THIS?
You need a bike, helmet, and running shoes. Additional comfort items may include special triathlon shorts, a hat or visor, sunglasses, sunscreen, anti chafe product (such as body glide), and elastic/quick laces if you change your shoes.
HOW DO I PREPARE?
You'll want to ride or run nearly every day leading up to the event. It's important that you establish consistency first. Once you have that, you may begin to lengthen your workouts. Aim for about a 10% increase in volume per week.
After you build up your tolerance for the distance, do a handful of short runs off the bike, aka “transition runs”, once you are close to race day. Don't do too many of these or make them long, as they carry a higher risk for injury than a regular training session.
WHAT IS PACING, AND HOW DO I DO IT?
Pacing is using your energy evenly throughout the event. If you go too fast at the beginning, you will be walking before it is over. It can be tough to know how to pace yourself, so pay attention to how you feel running at different distances.
Do the first run of the duathlon at a pace that is a little slower than what you think you can do. Conserve a little on the bike, as well. Then gradually build your effort over the last run until you are going as hard as you can without walking. This will never be the hardest or fastest effort you can muster. It will be a little harder than your training runs by the end but that is it.
WHAT IS DRAFTING? WHAT IS DRAFTING DISTANCE?
Drafting is following another bike to reduce air resistance. The rulebook says this:
In accordance with the Rules as set forth in this section, a participant is not permitted to position his bicycle in the proximity of another moving vehicle so as to benefit from reduced air resistance. While on the cycling course, participants shall not work together to improve performance, efficiency, or position by teamwork or other joint conduct. A variable time penalty shall be imposed for any violation of this section.
Drafting distance is the zone defined as 7 meters (22.97 feet) long and two meters (6.56 feet) wide (1 meter to either side), as measured from the leading edge of the front wheel. Since the maximum legal length is 2 meters and the average bike is about 1.7 meters from the leading edge of the front wheel to the trailing edge of the rear, you need to be a little more than 5.3 meters (17.39 feet) behind the person in front of you.
In other words, when you start to get close to someone, either hang back a bit or make a decisive pass.
HOW DO I SAFELY PASS ANOTHER CYCLIST?
When you know you want to pass another rider, you will need to wait until you have a clear line to your left, move out more than 1 meter (3.28 feet), and pass quickly. It is a good idea to let that rider know you are doing it by saying “on your left” as you pull out to pass.
Aside from when you are passing, the rules require you to keep to the right of the road. According to the rules, it is your responsibility to pass in the allotted time, even if the person you are passing speeds up.
If you are unable to do so, drop back far enough to be behind the draft zone and try again when conditions are more favorable.
The rules on passing are as follows:
Passing. A participant who approaches another cyclist from the rear or from another unfavorable position bears primary responsibility for avoiding a position foul even if the cyclist being approached alters speed. A participant must not attempt to pass another cyclist unless adequate space is available and the athlete is confident of his/her ability to pass the other cyclist. All passing is to be done to the left of the cyclist being overtaken unless otherwise specified.
HOW DO I RECOVER?
Recovery is a general term applied to how long it takes your body to process the work you just did. Many people use that term when doing things that will aid the process, such as eating, rehydrating, getting enough sleep.
After a particularly long or hard workout, or after a race, try to rehydrate as quickly as possible by drinking fluids such water or sports drink with electrolytes. Also, eat soon after the workout or race, ideally within an hour.
The rule of thumb is a 3 or 4 to 1 ratio (3:1 to 4:1) of carbohydrates to protein. You can find formulas that are carefully calculated to be just that or you can eat real food and include a little protein with your carbs, such as a half a bagel with some lox, banana with some peanut butter, or a good old-fashioned sandwich. Chocolate milk is also a popular recovery drink because it has a good nutrient profile and it's easy to find.
It's important to recover well from all your workouts, not just your race, so make sure you hydrate, eat well, and get enough sleep throughout.
Flat/platform pedals - flat pedals that can be ridden with normal shoes
Pedal clips - cages or straps that hold your feet onto the pedals
Clipless pedals - pedals designed to hold your feet in place without the clips. They use a cleat system that is screwed into the soles of cycling specific shoes.
Run off the bike - exactly what it sounds like: running after you get off the bike
Check out Doing Your First Du? for more Diva Du prep advice.