A lot of people out there are looking to get into some form of Triathlon, whether it is for health, a bucket list item or just for fun. But there is also an equal number of people that don’t know how to swim, or are worried about the swim leg of a triathlon race!
A Duathlon is a three part athletic event, similar to triathlons, except they remove the swim aspect and replace it with another run! So if you have been looking to get into the sport but are hesitant on the swim then a Duathlon might be for you! Read on to get the basics on duathlon’s as well a breakdown of how to start training for a duathlon.
Duathlon’s are conducted in similar formats as triathlons, below are some common distances that races occur at:
Now these duathlon distances of course are all subject to the specific race and may vary, however your duathlon training would be the same as the distance fluctuations should be minor.
If you are just starting out in Duathlon training then your core focus is going to be building your overall endurance as well as gradually building up your distances in the run and bike. When creating a duathlon training plan for beginners, I am always assuming your entry point to be the easiest possible race, a sprint distance duathlon.
A duathlon sprint distance, not unlike a triathlon, can be trained for in as little as 4 weeks if you have a solid fitness background. If you are coming from ground zero, then I recommend at least 8 weeks to get you across the finish line of a sprint distance duathlon.
So let’s break the race down into its components and develop a 4 week training plan for duathlon and an 8 week training plan for duathlon. And first on our list is to focus on the run, since it comprises two parts of the race and also it your highest injury risk during a duathlon.
The first thing you need to factor in when making a duathlon training plan for beginners is where is your fitness level for running?
By this I mean how fast can you comfortably run at, and for how long?
Our goal for any beginner is to get your across the finish line. You can build up your speed eventually to where you are standing on the podium. But that is not this guide!
Hopefully you already have a good idea of this number, have taken an interest in running or biking and know your base values. If not lace up some good running shoes and go for a run! Don’t worry about times, you are just seeing where you stand.
Once you have this number we will use this to gauge if you fall into the 4 week duathlon training plan for beginners or the 8 week duathlon training plan for beginners.
The only other discipline you need to worry about in a duathlon is the bike. While the bike only is one part of the race the distance you are riding accounts for more than double your run distance in every race format! So the bike should not be taken lightly from an endurance level.
On the plus side though, biking is much easier to build up than running due to it being a lot less risk for injury than running. Additionally depending on your bike, there are a few upgrades you can get that will greatly increase your performance and distance. Some of these include: Aero Wheels, Aero Helmets, Aero Bars or even a Triathlon Bike!
Another side benefit is that time in saddle will directly improve your run time and form as well, since it drastically improves your leg muscles and flexibility. I actually find that I perform way better on a run AFTER I have had a good bike ride than I would if I just ran by itself.
Your first goal, much like the run, is to establish your base. This again will be used below for you to best assess if you need a 4 week duathlon training plan or an 8 week duathlon training plan. So dust off that bike, saddle up, and go for a nice long ride. Or if you have an indoor bike trainer that works too!
So you have a decent running background, you’re a good cyclist, and you have decided to sign up for a duathlon race in about a month!
Well if you have a decent run and biking background this is very doable! So what is the bare minimum to meet this classification?
In my opinion, you should be comfortably able to run 1 mile and ride a bike for 5 miles to be able to complete do the duathlon training plan 4 weeks, keep in mind this will be a rough ramp up still! So be ready to work!
Below is a FREE 4 Week Duathlon Training Plan. And if you have questions do not hesitate to Contact Me! I am always happy to help!
Week 1 is about building your foundation and getting used to switching from one event to the next. Believe it or not for a lot of new duathletes and triathletes this transition can be one of the hardest parts if not conditioned properly. When following the Brick workouts, make sure to do them in the order they appear. What is a brick workout? It is simply two disciplines back to back, so running and then immediately biking or vice versa!
Week 2 is about building your distances and getting you more comfortable with the transition from one sport to the next.
Week 3 is about hitting your race distances in the run and edging closer to your biking distance for race day. This way you will be set up by week 4 to comfortably be at full race distance or even a bit beyond!
Week 4 is about hitting your race distance and making your comfortable with completing your race. It also then ramps down so you get more rest time and are ready for your race the following week!
That’s it! Congratulations! If you followed this plan you will be hitting the full distance for our Duathlon Sprint before your race. You will also be running slightly more than your distance as well! I do not recommend ramping up running more than needed or you can risk injury!
If you are feeling like you want to push more you can increase the biking on Tuesday/Thursday by 10% each week but wouldn’t recommend going higher than that!
Now if you have no running background or cycling background then it is going to take a bit longer to build that initial foundation, and that is what the 8 week duathlon training plan is for!
Weeks 1 – 4 of this training plan will encompass building your initial run and bike up to the mentioned distances in the 4 week training plan, from there it will follow a very similar plan to above!
Below is a FREE 8 Week Duathlon Training Plan. And if you have questions do not hesitate to Contact Me! I am always happy to help!
Week 1 is about building your foundation in both running and cycling! This duathlon training plan 8 weeks, assumes that you have no running or biking background.
So our goal here is to get you from a minimal fitness level to crossing the finish line. If you do fall into this category make sure you have consulted with a physician that you are in good enough health to tackle a training protocol!
All run’s and bike workouts should be performed at a pace you are comfortable with. For running that tends to be a light jog, for biking it tends to be around 6-8 mph for most people. Do what feels right to you and does not cause pain on joints or tendons. Some muscle pain is expected but listen to your body and back off pacing if something feels off!
Week 2 is about building your distances and getting your overall cardio fitness level higher
Week 3 is more of gradually upping distances and building a cardio base level. Also make sure you are getting plenty of rest and recovery time.
Week 4 is about getting you to the base level of the 4 week duathlon training plan, also building your cardio level. At this time you should feel a bit more confident, the runs/bikes should be easier and you should have begun to develop some basic muscle memory.
Week 5 is about starting to put it together! From here you will start integrating brick workouts however we will keep the additional rest day for one more week. What is a brick workout? It is simply two disciplines back to back, so running and then immediately biking or vice versa! Your cardio level should be good enough now where you can handle a bit of extra distance and your muscles should be used to the repetitive motion.
Week 6 is about building your distances and getting you more comfortable with the transition from one sport to the next.
Week 7 is about hitting your race distances in the run and edging closer to your biking distance for race day. This way you will be set up by week 8 to comfortably be at full race distance or even a bit beyond!
Week 8 is about hitting your race distance and making your comfortable with completing your race. It also then ramps down so you get more rest time and are ready for your race the following week!
That is it! A Duathlon Training Plan for 8 weeks, which I have used to help people get from never running/biking to crossing the finish line of a duathlon!
Now there are a couple caveats that can come into play here, which is why I mentioned consulting a physician. If you have health issues or injuries this can be a lot harder.
But not all is lost, I was a struggling asthmatic when I started in triathlons and now am competing at an Ironman level! It just takes work and dedication.
If you need more specific help please feel free to reach out and I can work out a custom plan just for you!
If however you are in otherwise good health, please use these FREE 4 week and 8 week Duathlon Training Plans!
I hope you have enjoyed these guides and I would love to hear about your races, successes in the comments below!
Hey there, my name is James and I am the creator and editor of this site. I have been doing Triathlons for a while now and am competing in 70.3 Ironman's as well come this year. I created this site to help those new to the sport and to share my journey with other athletes.