SPOILER ALERT: Sorry for all you guys who haven’t seen this month’s Women’s Running magazine, but if you turn to The Great Debate feature, you’ll see that this month it’s all about cross training.
Besides the fact that the lovely Leah and I have a starring role in this feature, the subject itself is an important one for runners. And if you’re a crazy lady like me, it’s perhaps even more pertinent. For alongside training for the Women’s Running 10k, the Royal Parks Ultra 50k (you can always sponsor me here), I have also signed up for my first duathlon. Yes, that’s right – I will be taking part in the London Duathlon 2013 (Sprint) at Richmond Park on Sunday 15 September 2013.
Why? Well, I guess I want to see if I can do it. You can probably tell by now that I love a good challenge. What’s more, I was a cyclist before I became a runner. In fact, while my teenage friends were lazing about in bed on a Saturday morning, I was cycling up and down hills pushing copies of The Sun and The Daily Mail through customers’ letterboxes. Fun? It wasn’t. But it did mean I was pretty hot on “current affairs” (I delivered The Sun and The Daily Mail remember) during this time, it kept me fit and I was able to get my hands on the latest Bush album in Our Price. It’ll also be a good bit of cross training for my 50k.
When I moved to London in 2006, I pretty much moved my bike with me and got to know the Big Smoke on two wheels. The thing is, and it’s a pretty big thing, I have never cycled competitively. Cycling has always been a way of getting from A to B or a leisurely activity. I have even been on two cycling holidays but timing myself has never been on an agenda. I guess I want to see if my equivalent of cycle “plodding” will be transformed when my competitive streak kicks in. If all else fails, at least I have a bike, helmet and my running legs to keep me going. I honestly hope it will not come to that.
Alongside weddings, holidays, festivals and other silly season madness, I have tried to come up with some sort of adaptation of my 50k training plan by using these suggestions from the London Duathlon’s training expert, Dermott Hayes from RG Active:
Dermott Hayes says: Do your homework
Have I checked the transport for the day as Dermott suggests? Not yet, but I definitely will follow this rule closer to the time after my rather poor planning pre my last race The National Lottery Anniversary Run. He also says chat to athletes who have competed in the race before so you know what to expect. I’ve not done this yet but if any of you are former London Duathletes, please give me a shout. Any tips are welcome. Please.
Dermott Hayes says: Get the basics
I have a bike and helmet, I have a drawer full of running gear and running shoes. They say a poor workman blames his tools but I think you can make an exception when it comes to something like a duathlon. In fact, Dermott says: “you need to make sure your equipment is in good working order”. So I’ll get my bike serviced at the end of the month. I want to be able to concentrate on the race as opposed to wondering whether my brakes will fail or gears give up when climbing that killer hill in Richmond Park.
Dermott Hayes says: Build using BRICK’s
Yup, it’s a new term to me too. Dermott describes a BRICK session as a simulation of race day. I am doing the Sprint distance, which is 10K run, 22K cycle and 5k run. Besides the competitive cycling, I’m also concerned about the transition between the cycling and running elements. Will my legs feel like jelly after 22K? Will I fall flat on my face? I need to get onto one of these BRICK sessions to build my confidence. How do I swap between disciplines smoothly? Thankfully, RG Active is offering BRICK sessions for newbies like me (find out more here) and I’m going to head to my first one soon. Watch this space to see if I BRICK it.
Dermott Hayes says: Train transitions
This is my first duathlon and I’m not going to spend loads of money on bicycle clips/cycling unitards because multi-sport challenges may not be my bag. Mentally, however, I need to develop my mindset of changing from running to cycling back to running. Oh and remember to remove my bicycle helmet. Not a good look on your final run.
Dermott Hayes says: Get outdoors
Here’s a confession, I’m not a gym bunny. The only reason I have a gym membership is so I can use their shower and go to the occasional Pilates class. I can see the benefits of training on a treadmill but I prefer hitting the open road (or should I say path). Dermott says that training indoors can be helpful for certain training sessions as you can control the environment, but I love the unpredictability of the being outdoors. I am certainly training outdoors and with an impending house move soon, I’ll be tackling those hills of Highgate on two wheels. Hopefully this will put me in good stead for THAT hill, described in the race information as a “short, steep climb up Broomfield Hill”. I’ve cycled up that notoriously steep hill before and it certainly doesn’t feel short when you’re halfway up!
Dermott Hayes says: Be an early bird
When it comes to race day, I have of late been a bit lax when it comes to arrival times. This is mainly because I know what to expect. For the London Duathlon, I have no idea what I’m going to encounter so getting there early is definitely a priority of mine to see how the race operates and set up my transition area.
Will anyone be joining me on Sunday 15 September? If you have any tips for preparation or race day, please share.