GETTING ULTRA DUATHLON READY- BY ROLAND YOUNG
The Descente London Ultra Duathlon may seem like a daunting prospect, especially after seeing the distances, but the good news is it is achievable by anyone with the right training.
In 2014 I did my first London Ultra Duathlon after watching the event in 2013, even though my background consisted of competing in mostly shorter distance duathlons. I am now a ‘middle of the pack’ runner, running anything from a 5km Park run to 100km Ultra Marathons.
The first thing I did to prepare myself to sign up was breakdown an Ultra Duathlon into the individual elements to make it seem more plausible. Firstly, a 20km run (almost a half marathon which I know I can run), secondly a 77km bike (typically a cycle sportive), and then finally the 10km run which many run casually over the weekend. If I can do it, so can you!
I personally find training for an endurance event such as the Ultra Duathlon a lot easier than the shorter distances. Why? It is all to do with speed. With Ultra distance events you are going slower as you need to manage your energy resources to get you through all three events. Think of the hare and the tortoise “steady eddy gets you to end”.
I recommend consistent training and incorporating it into your everyday life. Think about going on a run home from work one evening, for example. I often do this, and if not running, cycling. Why not find some hills on the way to challenge yourself? For anyone going through/ near Richmond - Richmond Park is not flat and has one killer hill. Just keep it consistent do something most days.
With six months to go until the Ultra Duathlon, just get out and enjoy yourself…don’t worry about speed or distances yet. Gradually build up your training, following the 10% rule where you up your distance by 10% each week to make sure you don’t overdo it. As I write this in March, I am personally focusing on my running, as I will be running a 50km Ultra Marathon in Kielder Forest, Northumberland National Park in April. I am building up endurance running at a steady pace.
Once the calendar is turned over to June, it is then time to refocus and think about preparing for the London Ultra Duathlon. The lighter nights will mean you can be safer in the evening riding your bike which is always a plus. Your training at this point would benefit from time spent on the bike as you spend most of the ultra-duathlon doing this.
If you have read up or watched videos on preparation for a duathlon, you would have heard the term “Brick Training”. This is where you practice transitioning from running to cycling to running. For the Ultra distance, a fast transition between the different elements is less essential due to the long nature of the event. It is worthwhile practicing coming into transition and taking time to compose yourself and this will also help you understand how your body will react to it before the day.
An example of an Ultra Duathlon brick training might be running a fast 5km then hopping on the bike for a few hours. Alternatively, after a long bike ride, switch to running and trying to run fast for 2-3km. This last simulation is great as your head is saying ‘go go go’ but your legs might be like jelly and saying ‘no no no’! After about 1-2km the lactate acid starts to disappear and running feels better so don’t give up, it gets easier. Personally, I like running faster than you would ever do on the day when doing a brick session. If you master this transition when you’re going all out, it will be a breeze on the day
Finally, when training it is all too easy to get wrapped up in someone else’s training, following them on the internet as they do monster miles and hours you begin to compare your training - be careful this often leads to an injury. Train at your own pace in line with your own training plan. Trust your own training. When it comes to September it is not about who has run and cycled the fastest or furthest, it is about enjoying yourself, feeling the satisfaction of your training and the elation of completing the course.
All in all- If you have not entered, get yourself entered today and enjoy going outside to feel the rewards of training, and one final tip- remember to be safe.
Roland J Young, Twitter @sportyitguy