Triathlon and duathlon training FAQS

We've answered some of your most common duathlon and triathlon questions to help you get started.

Swimming

How do I improve my swimming time?

You can gain better swim times by focusing on your technique and becoming more energy efficient.

Top tip: Join a triathlon club or attend open water swimming classes to improve your technique.

How do I learn how to sight in open water?

This is the ability to spot a landmark to help you to swim the shortest route to your destination. In open water, orientation aids in the background are important (towers, houses, boats, trees). The best way to learn how to sight is to attend an open water swim class.

Top tip: When you’re next in the pool try to look for your drinks bottle at the end of the line on every 6th stroke.

Is it important to breathe bilaterally?

This means to take breaths to the right and left alternately after every third stroke. The advantages of this breathing include having better orientation and position in the water.

Is there any race etiquette for swimming?

As with all mass participation events, let the fast and experienced go to the front. Be realistic with the wave you join to prevent any collisions with other swimmers.

Cycling

Can I use a mountain bike in a triathlon/duathlon?

Road bikes are more suited to triathlons and duathlon events. You can use a mountain bike but it may be worth considering changing your tyres to road tyres. These will give you a smoother ride meaning that you will go quicker on the road.

I know I need to do a long ride, but just how far should I be going?

Firstly, you will need to build up to your intended race distance. Then, depending on how many weeks you have to train, you need to aim to improve your endurance by going over distance. So, if you were training for an Olympic distance triathlon (40k bike) as a beginner/improver you would aim to build your long rides to approximately 60k-80k.

I’ve seen people with tri-bars , do I need them?

Tri bars are handlebars designed to reduce the cyclist's wind profile. They were originally designed for use in triathlons. It's not essential to have these handlebars but might be something you want to consider the more experienced you get.

Do I need to practice transition?

A lot of time can be won or lost during the transition so practice is really important. You also need to get used to the feeling of running on ‘cycling legs’.

I’m finding it difficult to stick to my training schedule. Is it ok to swap the sessions around?

Of course! It’s important that you enjoy your training and that it works around your lifestyle. However, we recommend that you don’t do two hard sessions back-to-back. As part of your training schedule it’s important to let your body rest and recover too!

Running

I’ve heard I should be doing a long run, how long should this be and how fast should I run it?

If you are training to do a 10k as part of a triathlon then it would be good to build your long run to about 75-90 minutes. This run should be done at a conversational pace - you should still be able to speak to someone whilst running.

Does it really matter what trainers I have?

Yes. You need to find trainers that suit your running style. Comfort and fit is also important.

Do I really need to stretch?

Flexibility is really important. Continually contracting muscles makes them shorten over time and this restricts your range of movement which can lead to injury. Stretch straight after easy runs (for more intense and long runs leave it until you have showered and are warm).

What should I be eating while I’m training?

Our nutrition section has information on your food intake and hydration when training.