Duathlon Training Plans For Duathletes of All Levels


Are you looking to qualify for the Duathlon World Championships?  Or looking to complete your first race?.  Here are several duathlon training plans to help you get there: 

Duathlon Training Plans

Advanced 5k/20k/2.5k plan
Beginner 5k/30k/5k plan
Intermediate 5k/30k/5k plan
Intermediate 10k/40k/5k
Advanced 10k/40k/5k
Beginner 10k/60k/10k plan
Intermediate 10k/60k/10k plan
15k/80k/7.5k Gold Medal Plan
10 week base building plan.

Click Duathlon Training Plans to see more details.

Each plan includes detailed instructions for daily workouts.  Workouts can be performed based on perceived effort, heart rate, or using a power meter. Each plan includes a guide to intensity for each of the three measures, as well as testing that can be done to set your heart rate zones.

Training for your first race can be a challenge, especially if your background is from a single sport such as running or cycling.  These plans are designed to take the guesswork out of your training and give you a proven plan that works and gets you to the starting line with confidence.  They work much better than following a triathlon plan minus the swimming.  Those plans are designed for a triathlete and they don’t take into account the more specific and challenging requirements of a duathlon.

Duathlon Training Plans

American Greg Watson won the 2004 Duathlon World Championships in Denmark

These plans were  written by Eric Schwartz.  Eric was the 2004 US Duathlon National Champion and his athletes have qualified for the World Championships every year since 2000 and many have won medals.  Eric raced at the World Championships in Cancun 1995, Spain 1997 (25-29 gold medalist), Germany 1998, and as a pro in Charlotte 1999, South Africa 2000, Austria and Atlanta 2002, Switzerland 2003, and Australia 2005.

Eric has been coaching since 2000.  He was part of Joe Friel’s Ultrafit coaching group and his articles have appeared in Inside Triathlon, Triathlete Magainze, American Tri, and other publications. Eric also wrote the duathlon material for the USA Triathlon Coaching Certification course.

 Duathlon Training Plans

Duathlon Race Strategy

Knowing how to execute your race plan is incredibly important.  A smart athlete can overcome the talent gap of a faster athlete.

The first run is a prelude to the bike and final run.  Your ego should not be with you during this leg of the duathlon.  A bad first run can ruin your race. The benefits of a smart first run are underrated.  Have a goal pace for the first leg and stick to it.  In the race starts with a 5k, and you think 22:15 is what you should run, you can calculate that to be a pace of 7:10 per mile.

Knowing this, you have a magic piece of information that 98% of your competition will fail to act on – run the first mile at 7:10 pace, no faster.  Don’t run 6:45 or 6:55 and think that’s okay because it’s not much of a  difference.  Starting out too fast makes a big difference. Poor pacing may deplete your energy stores, cause undue fatigue, and most definitely will cost you more time later on.  The first mile pace of 7:10 will feel easy.  If you doubt that advice watch a race with world class runners.  They almost never start at a pace faster than their average pace.  Even so, as a long time coach and observer of the sport, I write this knowing that most duathletes will never heed this advice.

In most duathlons you will spend more time on your bike than running, so this is the most important leg. Pacing and nutrition are critical.  Monitor your effort and power output throughout. A constant output should feel relatively easy in the first 25% of the race and then get gradually harder. A power meter is one of the most important training tools available and if you are racing with one use it to pace yourself.  Heavy breathing or heavy legs early in the bike is a sign to back off.

For races under 90 minutes calories are usually not needed.  Races lasting 1.5 to 2 hours may or may not require calories.  This will depend on the difficulty of the course and personal preference.  Plan on taking calories for races over 2 hours.  You may need as little as 200 calories for shorter races, and 300-400 calories per hour for races over 4 hours (based on 150 pound body weight).

The final run is challenging. You can gain or lose a significant time. Counter intuitive to my first run advice, most athletes will feel better if they start fast in the second run.  Something about getting your legs moving quickly seems to help.  Your second run will be slower than your first run.  In longer races continue to take in fluid and calories as needed until you are within one mile from the finish line. The time span between feeling great and feeling awful can be just a couple minutes if you are under nourished.

After the race write down your race notes.  This will include: pre-race routine, things done well, things done poorly, number of calories, ounces of fluid, pacing, etc.  These notes will guide you to even better results in your next race.

Recovery time for a race under 2 hours is usually 2-4 days.  A Powerman distance race (10k/60k/10k) will require a full week of recovery for even the strongest duathletes.  Don’t train hard during this recovery period.

Team USA 2013 Duathlon World Championships Qualification

There are 3 ways for Americans to qualify for the short course Duathlon World Championships in 2013, which take place in Ottawa, Canada August 9-11.  The three events at which an American can qualify are:

Double Oak Duathlon
Pelham, Alabama
April 6, 2013
10k run/40k bike/5k run and 5k run/20k run/2.5k run
Race Website

Orange County Duathlon
Mission Viejo, California
2k run/40k bike/5k run
Race Website

Apple Duathlon
Sartell, Minnesota
5k run/33k bike/5k run
Race Website

Anyone can enter these races and qualify to compete for USA Triathlon.  You must be an annual member of USA Triathlon to qualify.  The top six finishers in each age group will qualify for Team USA.  Spots will roll down to 10th place at Double Oak and 20th place at Apple and Orange County.  If all top 6 athletes don’t claim a spot, the spot(s) will be offered to the next finisher until the roll down cutoff or 6 spots are claimed, whichever happens first.

The World Championship website is at ottawaduathlon.com.  The standard distance race will consist of a 10k run, 40k bike, and 5k run. The sprint distance race is not currently listed on the race website, but the most likely distance will be 5k run, 20k bike, 2.5k run.

For duathlon training plans visit Duathlon.com.

2013 Long Distance World Championships – Team USA Qualification

The 2013 Long Course Duathlon World Championships take place at Powerman Zofingen, the most prestigious duathlon in the world.  The race is September 7 & 8, 2013 in Zofingen, Switzerland.  The race is a 10k run, 150k bike, and 30k run.  The Team USA Qualifier is:

Mt. Rainer Duathlon
Emunclaw, Washington
April 28, 2013
Long course: 5.1 mile run/29 mile bike/3.8 mile run
Short course: 1.6 mile run/14 mile bike/3.8 mile run (short course is not a qualifier)
Race Website

The top 18 finishers in each age group of the long course race qualify for the World Championships, rolling down to 25th place.

The Powerman Zofingen website is powerman.ch/en