Draft-Legal racing and how to train for it

Draft-legal racing in a triathlon is one of those subjects that when discussed always brings out opposing opinions in people. As one of the growing number of events to offer a closed road draft-legal bike leg, we recently caught up with Brighton and Hove Triathlon to get some background information and their opinion on draft-legal racing in a Triathlon

DSC_8019Although drafting has been legal in Olympic and ITU Elite races for some time, the format was only introduced into Age-Group racing last year. It is still a controversial topic since it has been argued that drafting is less physically difficult and has instead made way for tactical racing. When athletes draft during the cycle leg (and it is also possible during the swim), they can save a lot of energy. As a result, the winners are often decided purely on the run course since there is very little chance of them getting a head start on anyone off the bike. This can make it far more exciting for spectators and TV, but is arguably defeating the original point of triathlon, that it is an individual race won or lost based on individual speed over the three disciplines.

The 2016 Age-Group World Championships in Mexico had the sprint distance in the drafting format so regardless of opinion, drafting is becoming a very prominent aspect to Age-Group racing. A draft-legal race entails different knowledge and skills to a standard, non-drafting format. It also requires a change in training to be race ready. We spoke with Brighton and Hove Triathlon Race Director, and Olympic Competition Manager, John Lunt:

Q.: What are your thoughts on the new draft-legal format for age groupers?
Lunt: “Draft racing gives you the ability to cycle a very fast bike course in a group and whilst this can make the cycling section very exciting and a lot of fun, it does require a level of technical expertise and experience. Drafting adds variety and another type of competition.”

IMG_6283Q.: Why is it more technical to non-legal races?
Lunt: “Cyclists ride in a tight bunch or in a single file line which allows the non-leading riders to expend less energy as a result of the slipstream created by the front rider. However, drafting requires a different set of skills and an increased awareness within the race, with a need to communicate with others around you in order to draft safely and effectively. As a general rule, it should be performed by more experienced cyclists who can react quickly.”

Q.: How can athletes train for draft-legal races?
Lunt: “Training for a draft-legal race isn’t massively different to the standard Age-Group format. However it helps to train within a group in order to get used to cycling in close proximity within the group which you race in. It’s important to be confident in your abilities when riding with others around you.”

Q.: Brighton and Hove Triathlon is a draft legal race. What was the thought behind that?
Lunt: “The Brighton and Hove seafront is blessed with wide, closed-roads which increases the safety of our draft-legal sprint race, allowing less experienced drafters to feel comfortable competing. The flat course should see some very exciting racing indeed.”

For more information and guidance on draft-legal racing, check out this handy guide from British Triathlon.

For more information about the Brighton and Hove Triathlon or to sign up, visit www.brightonandhovetriathlon.com.

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The importance of the ‘long run’ & how to progress

The coaching team from RunningWithUs take a look at the long run and how you can use it to your best advantage for your marathon training.

NYC_LOTR-3118 2 (1)The ‘long run’ can be the most daunting part of your running training plan. The length of a long run is relative to the person running it and the distance that they are training for, but generally speaking a long run is between one and three hours, running at a low intensity. The long run takes an increasing role through February if you’re training for a spring race. A great goal is to get in a consistent weekly long run of 1 hour 45 minutes to 2 hours at a relaxed and conversational effort by the middle to end of February.

Increasing the miles
Patience is key, even for the more experienced runners. Adding 10-15 minutes each week onto your long run is a sensible progression. Don’t be surprised if niggles and fatigue set in as you start jumping up by 30-40 minutes at a time.

What pace should I run my long runs?
In early February, aim to keep your long runs at a fully conversational, relaxed pace that’s 45-60 seconds a mile slower than your planned marathon pace. This will build your body’s ability to burn stored fats and ensure you are fresh enough to hit your quality sessions mid-week.NYC_LOTR-0949

Pre-marathon race prep
Using a half marathon race as a marathon paced long run can be a great way of building confidence around
your goal marathon pace. As extra preparation, try adding 20-30 minutes easy before and after the half marathon.

How to fuel your long runs
When your long run starts to extend beyond the 1 hour 30 minute mark, we recommend your really start to practice with different options for pre-run breakfasts and also fuelling during the run itself. Your long run is the best opportunity to practise your race day nutrition strategy. Gels are the most efficient and effective way of getting carbohydrates quickly into the system whilst running. To start with, take small sips of gel and look to take one every 30-60 minutes or so during the course of your long run.

IMG_3102What gels should I choose?
There are lots of brands out there offering similar sports nutrition. HIGH5 have always been our ‘go to’ brand for fuelling and recovery. It’s clean energy with no added nasties, like artificial sweeteners.
Take one EnergyGel Plus or IsoGel Plus sachet every 20-30 minutes. Wait until 30 minutes from the start of your race before taking your first sachet. The most convenient way of carrying gels is to use a Gel Belt but make sure you test it out in training. There are always a few runners that lose their gels within the first miles of a race because the gels are the wrong size for their belt.

To ensure you are fuelling and refuelling yourself clever, check out HIGH5 Marathon Nutrition Guide.

Be safe, work hard and enjoy your run!


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