It’s all so real now, the London Duathlon I mean. I have been thinking about it and cycling a little more but now the pack has arrived in the post (see above) with multiple versions of the number 1334, I know the race is almost here. Eeek! And it would have been more of a “uh oh, I’m in trouble”, if I hadn’t had the opportunity to get in some Brick training with RG Active.
This type of workout is a shortened version of race day and helps you prepare for the transition between run-bike-run. I’ve been running loads in preparation for my 50k and also cycle to work but I’ve never joined up the two disciplines. Brick was the perfect introduction to making the switch from pedals to pacing. The timed session consisted of a 5k cycle followed by a 11/2 k run (four times) but the focus (for me anyway) was really on the bits in-between, such as how do I mount my bike after my run? Will I feel jelly legs? (A sensation when you go from cycling to running) and have I bitten off more than I can chew? Well, here are 5 things Brick training with RG Active taught me:
1. Racking your bike
I’ve never done a duathlon before, correction I’ve never even watched a duathlon before, so imagine my surprise when I turned up to Richmond Park on a rather chilly day to find all the bikes racked up and hanging from their handle bars. I promptly lugged my heavy bike up onto the rack and set-up my kit (bike helmet below). Others had stuff like bike shoes and towels laid out neatly below their carbon, feather-light bikes but this is my first attempt and I’m not going to splash out on something if I don’t enjoy it. Racking it up the first time was the easy(ish) part but when it came to the transitions e.g. racking my bike up after the cycle bit and then dismounting my bike, I found that customising my two wheels with a flowery bell did not help my cause – it kept on getting stuck under the bar, which meant each time I transited from running to bike I added about half a minute to my time. That’s a total of two whole minutes. I love the bell but it will have to go.
2. Taking my cycle helmet on and off
Now I do not own the most professional-looking cycling helmet – it’s purple with a flowery design. In fact, this current bike helmet is a hand-me-down from my mum. Saying that, it is easy to fasten and undo, which I had to do a lot of during the Brick session. Forget helmet hair, my main concern was ensuring my helmet was on correctly before I dismounted my bike from the rack and then taking my helmet off last when I came back from the cycle ride. My interpretation from what I was told goes something like this: make sure you put your helmet on before your touch your bike and take your helmet off after racking your bike. And at least with a helmet like mine, I can see it from afar.
3. Mount and dismount at the marker points
Before I did this session, I had no idea that you could be disqualified if you did not mount and dismount your bike at a certain marker/line. Repeating this process four times over got me use to the process and also helped me understand that I really have to speed up when it comes to transitions. And I do not even have the excuse of owning fancy kit! I’m just not that used to changing disciplines rapidly. It was great to get some practice in.
4. Nail your running pace early
The distance of just over one kilometre was chosen at these Brick sessions because, as the RG Active people explained, it helps you to nail your racing pace. It’s during the first and second kilometre of your race that you can find your pace and then try and stick to it. To be honest, the running was the easiest part for me during the Brick session and my times ranged between 6:05 to 6:30 minutes (pretty speedy). Whether I can keep this up for 10k is another matter. Another thing that surprised me was I was fastest during the last run (6:05), which RG Active predicted. I guess the adrenaline was pumping so much that this pushed me to the finish line.
5. Find a lighter bike
I love my hybrid. It’s perfect for pootling around town or a leisurely ride to work but a duathlon? Ha. I felt like the car “Herbie”, only without magical powers. My bike is so heavy and not cut out for racing. I felt like I was lifting a ton of bricks every time I had to rack it up and cycling up those hills was tough on my legs and on my bike. I could hear it creaking as if it was about to give up the ghost every time I approached ballet hill and consequently watched as the others on the session flew by on their feather-light aluminium jobs. My cycle sprints ranged between 12:30 to 12:45 but I think with a better model I could at least knock half a minute off. I’m a competitive soul at heart so I am going to try and see if I can rent a bike from totally-bikes.com on race day, then we’ll see what I’m really made of.
I really enjoyed this session with RG Active and I’d recommend that anyone who is thinking of training for a duathlon or multi-discipline event try it. I can honestly say that this Brick session made me think about how I can make the most out of the London Duathlon 2013.
I’m doing the London Duathlon sprint, which consists of 10k run – 22k cycle – 5k run in that order. Will anyone be joining me?