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A beginners guide for women entering into the world of duathlon
Posted on: Wednesday 15th July 2009
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Gina Naude, the main woman behind everywomansduathlon.co.uk is passionate about what she does! With a depth of knowledge second to none she talks us through duathlon and all you need to know to get you started.
As the organizer behind the Shock Absorber Every Womans Duathlon Series, I have gathered a good understanding of novice women entering into the world of duathlons. Many women have not even heard of duathlon, so getting them to join in to an unknown sport can be difficult. Others seem to have a more personal issue holding them back, such as lack of fitness, feeling self conscious about being the last in the pack or even feeling too old to join in.
I started our duathlon series with the objective to create an event that enabled women of all sizes, fitness levels and ages to join in without feeling any of the pressures of a more competitive environment. I believe that as a beginner to any sport your first introduction needs to be based upon enjoyment. Once you have tasted the joys of participating you can build a foundation to compete at a higher level. Many women dive into the deep end of competitive duathlon and triathlon only to find themselves out of their depth. What they were hoping would be a door to a new sport is quickly shut by the realization there was no fun in it.
It’s not easy for beginners to take the fitness leap from a safe session down the gym or a jog around the block into entering an event with hundreds or even thousands of people. This is why we developed formula to our events which make them less intimidating and more accessible. Firstly we decided to make the Shock Absorber EWD Series an all women event. Secondly we decided that although you are always well rewarded with medals and goody bags, the emphasis would be on participation, support and personal achievement rather than competition. Finally we wanted to make our events motivating, so we decided the events would always be held at locations with inspiring beauty, where you could enjoy more that just a morning of reaching your fitness goals.
Getting into the groove
To get started, choose a duathlon that is aimed at beginners, this way you will avoid the serious athletes and feel more comfortable competing. Another starter’s tip is to register in the shorter distance event. Remember, don’t run before you can walk. A lot of the more novice duathlons will take place on quiet roads with very little or no traffic, but remember wherever the route takes you, a cycle helmet is compulsory on the cycle leg, so don’t forget it at home and risk not being able to participate.
You don’t need to have an expensive racing bike to take part in duathlon. Many first timers dust off old faithful from inside the garage, make sure it is road worthy and away you go. Some events like our EWD duathlons have bike mechanics at the event to help out should any bike problems, such as broken chains or punctures arise. Most duathlons utilise good tarmac roads, so whether you have a racing bike, mountain bike or even shopper, you will be able to compete.
Comfortable running trainers and sports bra are a must. You can get free advice from most good running stores on which shoe will be of most comfort and benefit to your running style. Don’t get brand new running shoes to wear on the day. It is a good idea to wear in your trainers before the day to avoid a foot full of blisters. Shock Absorber have developed a great range of sports bras that are very popular amongst duathletes and triathletes. If you want a smooth run and don’t want to bounce your way over the finish line, I suggest you invest in one.
Once you have entered a few events and believe your equipment is worth updating, there are many additions you can make that will hopefully make your race more comfortable and your times quicker.
To start out, you need to achieve at least three training sessions a week. Remember to try and combine cycling and running on some of your sessions. This will allow your legs to become accustom to the transition from run to cycle or cycle to run. If you are not running yet, start with a walk and build yourself up. It is not a good idea to push too hard too soon and risk injury. Although cycling in the gym is still good, it is good preparation to do some cycling outdoors. This will get you used to your bike, saddle and gears.
The Race Day
It will fast approach, so make a checklist in preparation so you don’t get left with last minute head - aches on the day of the event. Make sure you have covered the essentials: had your bike serviced if needed, packed your helmet, water bottle, sun cream, warm clothes, towel, directions and event day information. Being a multi discipline sport, duathlon involves a change-over more commonly known as 'Transition' between the run and cycle legs. Familiarize yourself with the layout and rules of the transition area, it can be a little confusing if you are starting out. Your training should be enough to get you through the race, so don’t panic if it’s a wet or hot day. Keep yourself well hydrated and listen to your body. Your reward will be a sense of great achievement and pride.
I hope many of you will take up the challenge and join us in making duathlon a much more popular sport. There are many events around the country that you will find suitable for your ability. Visit www.everywomansduathlon.co.uk to find out if we have a duathlon near you.