I just wanted to take a moment and answer a question that I’ve run into a lot recently. You see, most people are at least fairly familiar with triathlon. They know it’s a long event and some even know it’s three disciplines, but usually that’s where the knowledge ends.

**Person: So what do you do in a triathlon?

Me: Swim, Bike, Run

Person: In that order?

Me: Yep

Person: I’d rather swim last!

Me: Ha…

Person: Is that longer than a marathon

Me:…. um… depends

Now that’s the way most conversations about triathlon go. More or less. But then I throw in the wrench of telling them I am going to race a duathlon and that’s when things go crazy. You have to start with some point of reference, so you have to start with triathlon.

**Me: I’m racing a duathlon this weekend

Person: What’s what?

Me: Well, it’s like a triathlon, except you replace the swim with another run

Person: So you run and then what?

Me: Run, bike, then run again…

Person: Well… good luck with your biathlon

Me: Duathlon… Biathlon is skiing and shooting… that’s in the winter

All of the confusion aside, most people don’t realize the USA Triathlon is actually the governing body for many version of multisport: Triathlon, Duathlon, Aquathon,and Aquabike, all in various distances. Next to triathlon, which is obviously the most common multisport event in the world, duathlon would be the second most popular format. Like I said before, duathlon takes out the swim and replaces it with a run that may or may not be an equal distance to the first run. (side note: this is also what many race organizers choose to do when the conditions make a swim start for a triathlon dangerous.)

With that behind us, I wanted to note a few things that make duathlon interesting from a racer standpoint:

  • You have to train for the total distance of running, not just a single leg. So if a race has 2 5k run legs, you have to train for a 10k
  • You have to base your pacing off of the total distance. Again, it’s not just running 2 5k’s. It’s running a 10k, but you get a break in the middle.
  • Nutrition, and especially hydration, are even more important on the bike. In a triathlon, the water keeps you cool, so when you jump on your bike, you aren’t already covered in sweat, and many times you are trying to warm up from the cool water temps. Ina  duathlon, you are already warm and sweating so it is imperative to keep hydrated, not only keeping up with the hydration on the bike leg, but replenishing from the first run.

Duathlon is a great sport to be a part of, especially if swimming is not your strong suit, or to get some early racing under your belt before temps get warm enough for open water swims. In my area the local race organizer has 3 duathlons to start off the year before transitioning to pool swim tri’s and then open water swims. If you haven’t gotten out to a duathlon, I suggest you take a look at one!

And as duathletes like to tell you: “There is du or du not… there is no tri”


**Disclaimer: If I have had this conversation with you in the past, it’s ok. I understand. But now that you’ve read this post, you get it… right? 🙂