There is a certain misconception that running a Duathlon is “less” a multisport than racing a Triathlon. This despite the fact, the run is considered the hardest part. With this in mind…logic would say, that putting together two legs of a good run in between a solid bike, is twice as hard. But who ever heard of logic in “Sport”
I’ve raced both, and my perspective is that both races are very unique. Both require a different strategy and neither should be compared superior to the other.
Duathlon – the proper international recognized format for Duathlon is having the longer run first, followed by the bike and finished with the shorter of the two runs. You will find some events placing the shorter distance in the front of the bike.
The challenge with the Duathlon, is trying to determine how hard to go on the first run, keeping in mind that blowing your quads, hammies and hip flexors apart to get a PB time will have an immediate impact on the bike that is coming up, which will then further degrade your last run. There really is no option for recovery as most people find out. Your legs are 100% engaged the entire time in one form or another.
A couple of reasons to compete in Duathlon
– Excellent way to learn and practice proper pacing in a race
– Great way to teach the body to switch up leg muscle groups fast.
– Excellent way to push high end VO2
– Can provide a quality workout for most types of racing but with lower mileage. Quality VS Quantity
– Do not need to worry about extra gear. ( example: wetsuit, goggles )
Triathlon – Triathlon is a standard with a Swim, Bike and Run. The swim can be intense, as you push your way through a crowd of people, but the fact you’re using a different muscle group does mean you are saving your legs for the Bike and Run. While most people proclaim to hate the swim, in North America Triathlon remains the primary multisport.
Triathlon is an interesting mix, because being good at any one of the three legs does not guarantee you a strong finish. Many arguments go back and forth over which core sport offers the best advantage. In my mind it is about consistency and leveraging your strongest point correctly, Off season should be about developing your weaker links to build a more consistent foundation.
There is a simple test on what to work on. List the three sports in what you view as strongest to weakest –> 1, 2 and 3. In the off season, work number 3 the hardest, 2 middle and then 1.
A couple of reasons to compete in Triathlon
– Variation in a race, three types of activity VS two
– Wide selection of races available
– Great cross training, with three activities being worked it can lead to better balance and recovery.
– Excellent way to learn how to deal with stressful situations. ie: swim starts
– Multiple options for distances
– Strategy and pacing become as much a part of a race as activity itself.
No matter what race you choose, both offer unique advantages and can be combined to provide an excellent training and racing schedule. For the Triathlete who has never raced a proper Olympic distance Duathlon, I challenge you to try one…just once! Find a sanctioned ITU qualifier and try it out just for fun. I bet you’ll get a whole new appreciation for the race.
Cheers and Keep running!