F-1 Duathlon Training

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A primer on F-1 duathlons and how to train and race them. Includes sample training brick workouts.

By Simon Butterworth
D3 Multisport.com Coach  

Description of a Formula 1 duathlon race

Formula 1 events are short and intense and consist of a run-bike-run-bike-run...back-to-back.  An example distance is: 1.7mile run-10.3 mile bike-1.7mile run-10.3mile bike-1.7mile run.  A 1st class winning time, assuming a course that is not excessively challenging, would be something less than 25 min for the run and 45 min with an anaerobic threshold effort most of the way.  

What changes in F-1 training compared to regular duathlon training?

A great deal depends on current level of fitness, time to train, weeks to the event and goals. For a beginner in both of two sports the training does not change much if any compared to say a run bike run duathlon. The objective would be to build the duration of the training so that you can go the distance. If you are new, you should not expect to be able to race at your Anaerobic Threshold for anything close to the duration and indeed should not attempt to get to that pace until very near the end of the race.

If you are new to just one of the two sports and strong in the other, the program would change and expectation could be higher. With enough weeks to the event, be able to think about racing close to an anaerobic level if you are extremely strong in one sport but build that base first before dreaming.

Base Phase

Base training is no different for this race. The objective would be to build the aerobic base and strengthen the connective tissues and muscles with functional strength training (take a look at D3 videos for advice on our web site: and more strength training articles as well).

If you are strong in one sport don’t assume you can jump into the other without paying your dues. Starting with a week running base and building the base too fast is especially risk prone. Cycling, because it is not an impact sport, is not quite the same but it is very important to be  fit on your bike properly. A professional bike fit is a good idea for any level of athlete especially a rookie. They may seem expensive but it will almost certainly save you some medical expense down the road (pun intended).   If cycling is your strength your cardio system is probably ready for the race but it does not translate instantly into running speed. Stick to a long-standing rule, don’t increase your run mileage by more than 10% a week and 10% for your long run.

Early in your training and roughly monthly you should be testing your progress with a 20 min bike TT (time trial) and a 3-4 mile track run. During the base period be sure to include some bricks (bike then run). No need to start simulating the triple nature of your race until the Build Phase.

Build Phase

The Build Phase is where you start the specificity into your training. Your main workout of the week, or at least every other week, should be a replication of the race. This should include transitions, which with four of them offer a lot of opportunity for free speed. Example of this are: lace locks of some sort for the run shoes, learning to at least get into your shoes on the bike (not hard with practice) to doing flying bike mounts (don’t try it unless you are a very skilled biker).   You will need some fuel if your expected finish time is much over 75 min. You will need some fluids as well. Be sure to work out what you need in advance of your Build Phase and include this in all your race simulations.

Below is a workout for a good starting point for your race simulations and a corresponding week of training. Have fun getting good at the sport and have a great race.

Race simulation workout

Warm Up: On the bike, 10 minutes at an easy pace and the 5 minutes building each min to an AT (anaerobic threshold) effort for the last minute.

Main Set: If you can pick the course it should be the same loop for each bike and run. The best situation would be to find a route similar to the race. This way you can use pace and HR to evaluate your results. Keep the pattern and distances the same as the race.

Start the first run comfortably below your AT pace and build to just below AT for the last ¼ mile. Execute your transition well. Then use the same build of effort for the first bike and second run. Set the pace for the last ride at the same level you finished the first and do the same for the last run (adjust the pacing so that you feel you have gone as hard as you could at the end as you learn more on how you pace this event).

Cool Down. Back off the pace to 'easy' for about 5 minutes and then walk for 5 minutes.

A week of training at the start of the Build phase might look as follows:

Monday: Day off. If doing triathlons later in the season, swim today and do at least one other day of swimming a week - preferable two.

Tuesday: Bike Drills, high cadence, single leg, run off the bike for 30 min ending with running strides.

Wednesday: LT (lactate threshold) bike (Main set: 4x5 min at LT with equal recovery) in the AM with Easy run in the PM (or swim).

Thursday: LT Run (Main set: 4x5 min at LT with equal recovery) in the AM with easy PM ride (or swim)

Friday: Very easy ride for recovery.

Saturday: Race Simulation workout

Sunday: Very easy run for recovery.

! Don’t make the mistake of thinking more LT work is better as your body needs to recover from these efforts to be able to do better the next time. You should not be doing more than 20-25% of your week at an LT effort.

Simon Butterworth is a D3Multisport.com coach with 10 years of coaching experience, 10 trips to IM KONA and over 20 years competing in multisport events.

Watch me talk about my coaching at http://vimeo.com/64832258#


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date: February 25, 2014