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On Thursday 19 July, we hosted a live webchat with
Great British duathlete and Macmillan Supporter Catriona Morrison. Cat has
represented Great Britain in both duathlons and triathlons and has brought home
lots of medals, including a gold medal at the 2010 Duathlon World Championships
Lots of people came along to ask questions, including many
fundraisers planning to do the London
Duathlon for Macmillan. Cat answered questions on triathlons, duathlons
and Ironman competitions, sharing her tips on training, equipment and mental
Many thanks to Cat for her answers, and good luck to all our
London duathlon participants!
You can read more
duathlon tips from Cat on our website, or visit her own website at www.catmorrison.com.
signed up for the London Duathlon in September and I’m in hearing any tips.
It's my first one so mostly I'm wondering how hard to push the initial run.
You should run so that you are comfortable, probably
not as fast as in an all-out running race. You need to find a pace where you
know that you have more in the tank.
sense. Is the course quite flat?
I’m not too sure but, given the location, I imagine
that it is flat.
told me that cycling can actually be bad for you if you're a runner - unless
you train the right way. Is this true?
No at all; cycling provides excellent cross-training
benefits and can enhance your running. You just need to make sure that you have
a well-fitting bike to start with!
soon before a race can you eat? For example, if it starts in the morning, would
it still be OK to have breakfast?
I would have breakfast in the morning - try this
out in training. Have your normal breakkie and then see how long it feels for
you to be good for exercise. You should always make sure that you have enough
energy in the tank - even if you have to get up earlier!
breakfast would you typically have before a race?
I tend to have toast and a banana and some honey;
coffee and a sports drink. Everyone is different and this is why you should try
things out in training.
been trawling the internet for duathlon training plans for a beginner. I'm doing the Classic 55k distance at the
London Duathlon. Can you recommend any
websites that might be a good place to look?
There are lots of good resources - tri247 often has
links and the publication Triathlon 220 has good links too.
just wondered if there is an essential equipment/clothing that you couldn't do
without for your training and also for the events?
I can't live without a good pair of cycling shorts to
protect my bum in training. For the race, a good pair of tri shorts that you
can run and cycle in are great. And a rain jacket this summer...
have a hybrid bike, so nothing like a top-of-the-range road bike. Am I putting
myself at a big disadvantage by using it for my first triathlon? Should I get a
was just going to ask something similar! I did my first tri last year with a
mountain bike and felt like every man and his dog was whizzing by on super sleek
No bling required! Just a bike that is roadworthy
and fits you - if you enjoy the experience you can always think about pimping
up your ride later. The best investment is some "slick" non knobbly
tires - these will make you go faster! Slicks are a good way of increasing
speed for little investment - ask a bike shop, they’ll be able to help.
you also recommend a service before a race?
Yes, you want to be safe and to be safe for the
others in the race too - and to prevent a "mechanical" that would out
a dampener on your day.
tips for readying the muscles groups for the transition?
Move the bike into an easier gear a few minutes
before transition to get some more blood flowing and the legs moving faster.
tips to reduce the wobbly legs effect after the transition?
I'm afraid wobbly legs happen to the very best -
the only way to get better is to do some bike-running in training. You may not
get better but you will get used to the feeling.
both disciplines in the same training session as often as possible?
Yes, both disciplines in same training session - at
least once per week.
would love to know how to get more confidence on the bike with descents; I slow
down too much.
Practice makes perfect for confidence on the bike -
I think that asking a more skilled friend to let you follow them on the bike
and learn by doing is a great way to get better.
you spend an equal amount of time training for running and cycling?
I spend more time cycling at the moment, for Ironman,
but for duathlon, I also prefer to spend a little more time on the bike, as I
can do more without being so beaten as I would get in running.
less technical question - what has been your favourite course or location?
I love any course with hills - I loved triathlon
Alpe d’Huez last year and St Croix, where there is a mighty steep hill about half
way through the bike section.
suits? Are they really beneficial to wear? I'm too scared to even try one
because of what I might look like!
The thing is that everyone goes through the same
thing with the tri suit. I would say have a good pair of shorts with a light
pad and a close-fitting top. Only invest in a tri suit if you start to take the
sport more seriously.
there any other form of exercise that you would recommend to help prepare for a
duathlon that doesn't involve running or cycling? I'm just wondering whether swimming or
Pilates would be beneficial to help mix up training. I'm already getting a bit
bored of continuously running/cycling and there's still a long way to go!
Mixing training is always good to prevent injury.
Pilates is good for injury prevention, too, and swimming for cardio
benefit. I also use the cross trainer in
the gym for a good cardio workout without pounding the legs.
you have a preference over triathlons and duathlons?
I like them both, although I have to say that I
like any event where I am successful! So it depends when you ask me...
a triathlon, do you just pull your riding shorts over wet swimmers and let the
wind dry you down?
I wear a suit that I can run and swim in - so no
change required. You can pull on your shorts - it can be tricky when you are
wet. The key is that you are happy and confident in what you are wearing.
have done a triathlon (Olympic) before and marathons; I feel it's time to
attempt an Ironman but I fear the training will take over my life.
Realistically, does it?
The training for Ironman does take more time away
from your "life" but you may develop a new kind of social life
through Ironman. Like everything, keeping to good schedules will help maintain
it be advisable to try a half Ironman first and build up, or just go for it and
do a full Ironman? There's certainly a lot more half Ironman events out there
I have seen people thrive on the challenge of
attempting Ironman from not much triathlon experience, but also there are those
that gradually build up. The truth is that, as long as the training is in the bank,
you can do it either way - some like to take the plunge!
you remind us what the Ironman distance is?
It’s a 3.8km swim, an 180km bike ride, a marathon,
and a long sleep and a beer afterwards!
How do you keep going mentally with all that lot?
It’s all about focusing on the moment and what you
can do in that moment - the trick is one step at a time and not to fixate on how
far away the finish line is.
am doing a duathlon in September. Any tips for completing the 10k run?
Make sure that you have at least a couple of
training runs at 10k distance in the bag already. I like to attack the run in
bite size stages, and tick off the kilometres as I go. Start conservatively and,
if you feel strong, build the pace up as you go.
swimming element I find the hardest. I'm a weak swimmer - do you have tips of getting
Technique, technique, technique. Find a lesson or a
coach or a friend to help you with how you swim
- this will give you the best return on training investment.
your next race?
I would love to be racing, but I have had an awful 2012
for various reasons! I have bilateral Achilles problems, which look like I may
be racing for surgery in the near future.
the going gets really tough, do you have any kind of motivational mottos you
say to yourself in your head to help you dig deep and keep going?
My mantra is: fitter, faster, stronger. I also like
to think of a time in a previous training session or race where I have pushed
further than I though possible and this pushes me on.
you recommend joining a tri club?
I love my tri club – organised, structured
sessions; great people; misery loves company; and like-minded individuals. Its'
a hot pot of ideas and action and advice - so yes! Join a club.
are your top tips for the Olympic triathlon?
and Nicola Spirig - and then the beauty of the Olympics is
that ANYTHING can happen!
you have rest days? How important are they to have in your training?
Rest days very important. Physically, to allow training
to sink in and your body to adapt to training, and also, mentally, to have a
break. Generally I have a down day every week with light training and a full
day off every two weeks.
you train to music? If you do, what sort
of music would you recommend listening to whilst running?
I have a pretty crap selection of music! There was
a program on the BBC not so long ago that said that 120-140 beats per minute
was the way to go. Mine is cheesy chart music (too young, really, for my age) -
a good beat that you can loose yourself in! I bought a Glee workout album -
very bad but fun to exercise to!
is your best song to train to?
Florence and the Machine, Dog Days - I love that.
do you stop training from becoming boring and monotonous?
Training can sometimes be boring. I try to change
my routes as often as possible and I try to train with others so that there is
some more motivation and a social interaction - even if it is at the end of the
session as you are too busy trying to breathe during!
doing the ultra distance in London. I am a better runner than biker. Should I
give everything on the first run (20k)to get good start on the bike, or save a
Save a bit, as, if you use up too much on the run,
your bike will suffer. The bike is the longer proportionally so you need to
feel stronger there.
bike course is 7 laps of 11k approx. Could you treat every second lap as time
Your body will fare better if you are more even
paced - bursts of speed will wear you down more. Even stephens is the best way
to go and, if you can, build gradually through the bike section if you feel
find pacing myself through the different disciplines hard, too.
Pacing is a matter of practice. You get to know
just how hard you can push one discipoine without endangering the other - its a
bit of give and take
surface is it best to run on when training? I'd love to just use parks/tracks
but usually end up pounding pavements.
All surfaces are good, as variety will help your
proprioception - ability not to fall over! And variety also means strong muscles.
However, it is good to find tracks and grass to run on, and try to limit too
much pavement-pounding where possible.
it excite you how popular triathlons and duathlons are becoming? It really is
an addictive sport.
It's great to see people embracing any sport -
especially kids. But everyone loves their own sport and I think that it is fab
to see tri getting some media coverage and being a really good way to raise
awareness of charities.
you use protein shakes?
I do use protein shakes but, as a rule, only after
long or intense workouts where I may not be able to have a good meal straight afterwards.
A post-training snack with carbs and protein are good for energy replacement
and recovery. If you can't afford expensive supplements, chocolate milk is a
about those gel sachets? Would you use them?
Yes gels are good for providing energy in a
convenient form during training and racing, but it can be a personal preference.
Also, you need to try these things in training before you race with them.
taking part in a team triathlon with Macmillan. Have you got any tips for a
Have a chat to your team mates beforehand - if you
can, have a look at the handover area, perhaps pick a spot and have a practice.
In the actual race, don't get caught up in the adrenaline - slow things down to
80% and do them right and you will not make time costly mistakes
also taking part in the team triathlon. With the swim, where would you position
yourself when entering the water?
Position in the swim very much depends on your
ability and confidence as a swimmer. If you are happy to be in the mix, in the
turbulence, etc then get in the middle - you may get a good group to swim with
and a faster time. If you are not so confident, position yourself at the side
so that you have clear water.
If you could give one piece of advice to Team Macmillan what would it be?
Enjoy the moment – there’s nothing quite like crossing the line and having all your hard work come to fruition.
you’ve been inspired to sign up for a challenge event for Macmillan, find more triathlon
and duathlon events on our website.
If you have any questions about Macmillan we would love to hear from you
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© Macmillan Cancer Support 2015
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