Sean Van Staden
Columnist
4 minute read
17 Oct 2015
8:00 am

Master the nitty-gritty and you’ll be fine

Sean Van Staden

I hope your training for your first duathlon is going well and you are feeling more confident with each training session.

I am going to discuss an area of the sport which is often referred to as the fourth element to multisports events, called the transition. This is when you change over from a swim to a cycle and then a run, or from a run to a cycle to a run.

You have stations where you store all your vitals which you may need to change attire, sporting equipment and even rest for a moment. Transitions are critical to tri- and duathletes and if you are competing for a win, they can help you or cost you dearly.

If you consider that the difference between first and second place in top male athletes is 6.6 seconds and top female athletes is 3.2 seconds and the time taken to eat an energy bar, then you will realise there is not really any time to waste. Just think how important a pit stop is for a Formula One car.

It is makeor-break for them and so too for triathletes and duathletes. You’re a beginner and competing for the fun of it so don’t worry about rushing the transition area. For a newbie, it should take you 2 minutes 45 seconds on average in the areas, but if it takes you five or more while you catch your breath, then so be it. Remember it’s about finishing, fun and the experience. Here is a short checklist for you to make sure you have everything covered.

Equipment: Make sure you have comfortably fitting running shoes for your run and pack an extra pair of socks In case your socks get soaked with sweat. There is nothing worse than running in wet socks, I can promise you that.

Pack a cap, an extra shirt just in case and some shades. It is your first event so it wouldn’t hurt to get a pocket-size first aid kit that contains antiseptic cream, plasters, a small bandage and sunscreen. There are medics on route, but sometimes you can repair little scrapes and scratches yourself. It is also highly recommended that you bring some KY Jelly or Vaseline along.

Take your mind out of the gutter, during your run and then cycle, you might experience quite a bit of chaffing on your inner thighs and these lubricants help to prevent and soothe the pain. Don’t forget your map and race identification.

Discovery have created an innovative system which will guide you to where your numbers need to be placed during next weekend’s Sandton Duathlon. More information of this can be found in the induction talks prior to the event.

Nutrition: If you’re competing in the sprint or super sprint events, the distances are short incomparison to full triathlons and Ironman challenges and therefore the nutritional needs for your race are different. I got in touch with Mark Wolff, one of the directors of 32GI and a sports nutritionist to amateur and professional endurance athletes.

Mark’s best advice for you is to keep it simple and clean. “Your meal the night before needs to be light; most athletes tend to carbo-load and overdo it and they just end up having a bad night’s rest because your body is trying to digest the overloaded quantity of food.” Mark believes breakfast is the first discipline in competing.

Start your day off with a 400-calorie breakfast consisting of complex carbs, proteins and fats. Scrambled eggs on low GI rye toast with some avocado will do just fine. He says there is no need to overdo it with gels and pre-loading carb drinks. If you were competing in a longer distance race, then the game plan would be different.

Sip on water throughout your race but during your transition period, have some form of carbohydrate. The carbs won’t give you the boost you think they will, but will allow for better absorption of water into your body. It is important to remember you don’t want to spike your body with too many carbs since what goes up must come down and when your body is on a down, you are going to hate every minute of your run and cycle.

Take race tip advice from South African wonder woman Caroline Bosman who won both the Two Oceans and Comrades Marathon in one year: “I want to feel stable when I compete and that means making sure my blood sugar levels are always in check.”

You have your advice on training, you have your advice on nutrition, there is only one thing left to do; meet me at the starting line.

32GI have graciously sponsored three nutrition hampers valued at over R2 000. Answer this simple question: Where is the Discovery Duathlon taking place?

Tweet your answer to @SeanVStaden.