Senior runners are experimenting with all forms of endurance sports and the Duathlon is another amazing event to consider, writes Deepthi Velkur.
Swim-Bike-Run races or the Triathlon are challenging and fun, but what happens if you can’t (or don’t enjoy) swimming?
Does that mean you miss out? Definitely not, the answer lies in Duathlon.
Duathlon is often scoffed at for being triathlon’s poor cousin. However, if like me, you’re addicted to running and cycling but dread that swim leg, then the run-bike-run could be the challenge for you.
The classic duathlon challenge involves a 10K run, 44K bike, and 5K run. There is also the Ultra Duathlon that has a 20K run, 77K bike, and 10K run.
While getting through the initial run and bike challenge seem straightforward enough, it is the last run (5K) that kills you and make your legs feel like jelly, though this can be avoided with proper training.
To get the most out of your training please make sure you follow a customized program. Runners who are senior in age need to be cautious and have race-specific training plans. This approach is necessary as over time the wear and tear of the body, as well as adaption to multiple forms of past training, make the body’s response to new training a lot slower.
As a senior runner, your years of training and racing have helped you understand your body better. Use this knowledge to make amendments and build a good training plan.
Your training plan should include 3 – 4 sessions a week of threshold and muscle training while other days must include strength or cross training. Senior runners should exercise caution when running fast as they are more susceptible to injury due to the loss of muscle and tissue elasticity.
Here are some top training tips when preparing for a duathlon:
Keep it simple: Make sure you have the basics – a bike, water bottle, helmet and a good pair of running shoes. Do make sure they are in good working condition.
Build up your training intensity gradually: Always ensure your training intensity increases gradually because a sudden change can lead to injury. Follow the 80:20 rule – 80% at an easy and conservational pace and 20% at a moderate to high intensity.
Pace yourself: Just like with your training pace yourself through each obstacle – run the first leg at a comfortable place, build intensity with the bike and finish with a flourish in your last run.
Practice transitions: You can lose a lot of time transitioning from your run to a bike to a run again. The key here is repetition. Practice by setting up a mini transition area that is safe and has marked entry and exit lines. Post a warm-up, set a timer each time you run in, change shoes, put on your helmet and run out to mount your bike and again back to the run mode. This helps you to better understand what went well and what changes are needed with respect to your last transition. Aim to get quicker with each session.
Run first, then bike: Incorporate brick sessions as part of the training program – these include a short, sharp run right after your bike ride. This way your legs get used to this transition of getting off a bike and then doing a fast run. Once you’re done with 4-8 weeks of base training, the short bursts off the bike are excellent for building muscle memory ahead of your race day. Try doing a run before a bike ride instead so you know how exactly it would feel to ride after running on race day.
Whether we like it or not our body never ceases to change through aging. You must factor in these changes as you customize your training approach.
That said, make sure you have fun, stay in the moment and enjoy yourself!