Luke Worthington: Duathlon World Championships 2016

Folks

I like to write a fairly detailed race report after a key race…an important part of the improvement process. Thought I would share it with you guys…

Duathlon World Championships Aviles Spain 5 June 2016 – Race report

I’m writing my thoughts on the flight back home from Asturias to Gatwick. What a fantastic experience and it’s been a privilege to represent Team GB at an international competition. I’m absolutely delighted to have come 7th in my age group (35-39) as my main target was to come in the top half of a field of 57 athletes…although my stretch target was a top 10 place 🙂

Build up
I qualified at the Dambuster duathlon back in March in freezing conditions. So racing in Spain in June already seemed like a less daunting task. We planned a family holiday Tuesday to Tuesday with the race on the Sunday. Rather than stay at the team hotel I booked an Air BnB house 20 mins away. I’d then drive to the team hotel to get my bike checked by the mechanic, niggles sorted by the physio and join the main team brief and photo session. On Thursday I cycled to the race location (Neimeyer Centre on the River Aviles) where I registered and recced the routes on my bike. The courses were flat and fast apart from a few undulations on the bike. Otherwise I trained and relaxed with the family away from the GB camp. The house was in a much prettier and quiet location than the busy industrial port of Aviles.

Race day
Having racked and kit checked on Saturday afternoon I arrived at Neimeyer 2 hours before my scheduled 1120 start. This gave me plenty of time for a final kit tinker, bag drop, warm up and head to the penning area with my age group competitors. After a 10 minute delay we were off.

Run B
I started towards the back of the field hoping this would stop me from blasting off too fast and burning out over the 2 hour race. In hindsight the course narrowed a few times early on and I was held up by slower runners. After a few minutes though it was a real morale boost to be consistently overtaking runners for the whole 10k. It was hot and humid and I felt a slight stitch come on at 4k. I’d had this during some of my training runs earlier in the week and knew if I stayed at my planned race effort it would pass.

Bike A+
Best 1 hour ride of my life. A power PB even compared to solo bike efforts. Holding back on the first run meant I could put down everything I had. I overtook everyone in front of me and no one over took me. I wondered if I was going too hard but I felt so strong from the taper that I decided to capitalise. Only grumble would be some of my corner handling. Need to work more on this technique on the TT bike.

Run B
The final 5k never feels great and you are always hanging in there. This is normally my strongest part of a standard duathlon but I initially felt pretty shot after the bike ride. A few athletes came past me so I shortened my stride, upped my cadence and waited for my legs to adapt back to running. At 3k my running engine kicked back in and I began reeling athletes back in. I was shoulder to shoulder with a Spanish athlete with 1k to go. I felt strong and kicked with 400m to go…he was toast 🙂

Once I hit the blue carpet I grabbed a union flag from a supporter and hit the finish line at 2:05:25 in 7th place. Awesome!!! Cue handshakes with other athletes, cuddles with family and lots of glasses of bubbly.

Some Reflections
– Tapering is hard but you have to hold your nerve so you are totally fresh for a peak performance
– Stick to the kit and approach that got you through qualification and build up races. Don’t roll the dice today!
– Seeing your support is a huge morale boost either family or other GB followers.
-As a runner ‘who does a bit of cycling’ I’m so pleased that my bike leg was best weapon
– Relax and smile throughout…it really is just another race.
– Stay in the moment and just focus on what I should be doing now. Laugh off negative thoughts that creep in and replace them with thoughts of recent successes.
– Don’t be phased by Adonis looking athletes full of stinking chat. Calmly get on with your prep and racing and you will fly by them.
– Make sure I build in all my learning from this experience into my next training plan.

Thanks
I have to thank various people for enabling me. Firstly my family and friends for their constant support and acceptance of my strange training and eating behaviours. Secondly to everyone at the Tri Surrey club who provide such a warm and fun home for athletes especially during the cold dark winter months. Thirdly to the BTF team of managers, mechanics and physios who are simply world class. Finally to my fellow competitors who are tenacious opponents on the course but gentle and generous at all other times.

So time for a few weeks without a specific training plan, to celebrate, recover and reconnect with friends and work and to dream of new adventures…but I already know that one of those dreams is an international medal 🙂