How To Train For A Duathlon

Training for a duathlon? In this blog, we provide essential tips and a free training plan.

Duathlons are tough events, typically comprising a run/bike/run format.  With just two disciplines to worry about, it’s easier to fit in your workouts around work, family and any other time constraints when compared to triathlon training.

Even so, it’s easy to get things wrong too. Most of the training is leg-based, meaning that muscle fatigue and injuries are common. Essentially you need to balance your bike and run training in a way that enables you to grow your fitness without getting injured or over-tired.

In this blog, I’ll provide you with a four-week training plan and a set of training zones to help you get fit while avoiding common pitfalls.

The free duathlon training plan includes recovery days, endurance sessions, speed workouts and short duathlon simulations. In other words, everything you need to increase your race readiness and confidence for a duathlon.

Note: If you want to continually improve at duathlon you will need to train for more than four weeks. For longer duathlon training plans, I have designed several that you can preview here.

Training For A Duathlon Kit List

Essential:

Bike, bike helmet, cycling gear, running shoes, running gear.

Nice to have:

Cycle shoes with cleats and clip-less pedals, heart rate monitor, indoor static bike or wind-trainer (also known as a turbo trainer).

Duathlon Training Plan Guidelines

The 4-week training plan below is designed for anyone aiming to do a sprint duathlon (5km/20km/2.5km) or a standard distance duathlon (10km/40km/5km).

It’s designed with novice and intermediate level athletes in mind and it’s geared around a Monday to Friday working week. It will get you in shape to race a duathlon on the last Sunday of the four-week plan.

Try and do as many of the sessions as you can but don’t panic if you miss the odd one. If the scheduling of the days doesn’t work out for you, feel free to shift the sessions to different days as long as they’re within the same week. Just try and space them so that you don’t do the hardest sessions on consecutive days.

Try not to catch up on any missed sessions by cramming them in – this can make you too tired as well as increasing your injury risk.

And regardless of what the plan says, if you start losing your appetite, struggle to sleep, or become abnormally grumpy it probably means you need to take at least a couple of days rest.

Your Training Zones

These simple training zones are a way of making sure you train at different intensities, rather than doing everything at one intensity.

You can use “feel” which is based on a score out of 10, describing how hard it feels (where 10 is the hardest).

Or you can use heart rate based on a percentage of your maximum. If you don’t know your maximum, base it on the highest heart rates you’ve seen in the last 18 months while cycling and running.

Neither are exact measures, so don’t stress about being 100% exact. Just adhere to the zones as best as you can, train consistently and you’ll do well on race day.

Zone 1. Easy. Feels like 1-2 out of 10. Heart rate 68-73% of max.
Zone 2. Light aerobic. Feels like 3-4 out of 10. Heart rate 74-79% of max.
Zone 3. Moderate aerobic. Feels like 5-6 out of 10. Heart rate 80-85% of max.
Zone 4. Threshold.  Feels like 7-8 out of 10. Heart rate 86-91% of max.
Zone 5. Above threshold. Feels like 9-10 out of 10. Heart rate 92-100% of max.

The 4 Week Duathlon Training Plan

Race Distance: 5km/20km/2.5km and/or 10km/40km/5km
Level: Novice & Intermediate

Week 1.

Monday: Bike to Run.
– Ride 45 minutes in Zone 2, straight into a 30 minute run in Zone 2.

Tuesday: Run Intervals.
– Run 15 minutes in Zone 2,
– 4 x 2 minutes in Zone 4 with 60 seconds recoveries,
– 5 minutes in Zone 2.

Wednesday: Pilates class or strength & conditioning workout.

Thursday: Bike Intervals Into A Run
– Ride 10 minutes in Zone 2. Followed by 8, 7, 6 minutes all in Zone 4 with 60-second recoveries.
– Run 15 minutes as (5 minutes in Zone 4, 10 minutes in Zone 2)

Friday: Rest Day

Saturday: Run a 5km race (see ParkRun.org.uk) or do a solo 5km time trial in Zone 4 to 5.

Sunday: Aerobic Endurance Ride
– Ride for 90 minutes mainly in Zone 2.

Week 2.

Monday: Aerobic Endurance Run.
– Run 40 minutes in Zone 2

Tuesday: Run/Bike/Run Brick Workout (no rests)
– Run 20 minutes in Zone 2,
– Ride 60 minutes in Zone 2,
– Run 10 minutes in Zone 2.

Wednesday: Pilates Class

Thursday: Run Intervals.
– 3 x 3 minutes in Zone 4 with 60 seconds recoveries

Friday: Rest Day

Saturday: Timed 20km Ride Into Easy Run
– Warm up for 15 minutes in Zone 2,
– Ride 20km in Zone 4 (timed),
– Then run 5-10 minutes in Zone 2.

Sunday: Aerobic Endurance Ride
– Ride for 90 minutes mainly in Zone 2.

Week 3.

Monday: Aerobic Endurance Run.
– Run 45 minutes in Zone 2 

Tuesday: Run/Bike Brick Workout (no rests)
– Ride 90 minutes in Zone 2,
– Run 30 minutes in Zone 2. 

Wednesday: Pilates Class or Strength & Conditioning workout 

Thursday: Run Intervals
– 15 minutes in Zone 2,
– 9 x 1 minute in upper Zone 4 to Zone 5 with 60 seconds recoveries,
– 5 minutes in Zone 2. 

Friday: Rest Day 

Saturday: Bike Intervals Into Easy Run
– Warm up for 15 minutes in Zone 2,
– Ride 5×5 minutes in Zone 4 with 60 second recoveries.
– Then run 10 minutes in Zone 2. 

Sunday: Run/Bike/Run Brick Workout (no rests)
– Run 15 minutes in Zone 2, 5 minutes in Zone 4.
– Ride 10 minutes in Zone 4, 40 minutes in Zone 2, 10 minutes in Zone 4.
– Run 5 minutes in Zone 4, 5 minutes in Zone 2.

-- CONTENT CONTINUES BELOW --
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Week 4.

Monday: Rest Day 

Tuesday: Aerobic Endurance Ride
– Ride 75 minutes in Zone 2.

Wednesday: Run Interval (no rests)
– 15 minutes in Zone 2,
– 5 minutes in Zone 4,
– 10 minutes in Zone 2.

Thursday: Bike Interval (no rests)
– 20 minutes in Zone 2,
– 10 minutes in Zone 4,
– 20 minutes in Zone 2.

Friday: Easy 25 minute run in Zone 2.

Saturday: Rest Day

Sunday: Race


PS: Feel free to preview all my duathlon training plans (with email coach support).

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Phil Mosley (Coach & Founder)
Phil Mosley (Coach & Founder)

Phil is a recognised endurance expert who founded MyProCoach in 2010 to offer smart training plans that still leave quality time for your family, friends & career - complete with highly-rated coach support (he has sold over 40,000 so far). Learn more here!

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Planning Your Off-Season

You can start our Off-Season (Fitness Maintenance) plans anytime you like.

They’re designed to help you maintain a good level of fitness when you’re not specifically targeting an event, such as, during the off-season, or anytime you’re taking a break from racing.

Planning For Your Event

For the best outcome, input the date for your “A” target race and the tool will default to a plan that will fill that gap nicely. If you want, you can then adjust the plan length to start it on a different day.

Note that you can still work in other, smaller races during your plan too!

Unlimited Athlete Price Rise - Dec 1st 2021

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The feedback has been outstanding (rated 5.0 from 100’s of testimonials), and recently we’ve also added further personal coach time… For example, our coaches now check your personalised training zones are set up correctly, and also keep you accountable by getting in touch if you haven’t logged any training for 2 weeks.

So, to maintain this great customer service and to support our coaches, on Dec 1st we’re increasing both price options by $5 per month, or by $4 per month if you pay annually (but for all existing Unlimited Athletes, to give a fair warning, renewals will not increase in price until Feb 1st, 2022).

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