Adrian Fuller's Top Tips on Oulton Park Autumn Duathlon
ADRIAN FULLER Marathon Runner, GB Age Group Duathlete and Xtra Mile Event crew member
If you have participated in the Oulton Park Duathlon before then you were probably either greeted by or ran / cycled with Adrian Fuller. Adrian is a loyal crew member of Xtra Mile Events and a highly esteemed duathlete. Whenever he can, he always takes part in the Oulton Park Duathlon and this Sunday will be no exception. Adrian has done this event several times and knows a thing a too that will be very helpful for other athletes taking part in this sold out event. So make yourself a nice cup of tea and read what our friend / colleague has to say.
As the summer season draws to an end, one of the most exciting multisport events in the country is approaching. Whether you are coming off the back of a triathlon season, weeks of 10 mile TTs, or fast 5 and 10ks on the road, the Oulton Park Autumn Duathlon is a highlight in the racing calendar. Held on the iconic racing circuit in rural Cheshire, Oulton Park is a brilliant venue with beautiful smooth wide tarmac, sweeping bends, an undulating challenging circuit with a spacious well organised pit lane transition. Backed up by the superb organisation provided by Xtramile events, it is no surprise that the race is often an age group qualifier which is a credit to the rigorous systems that are in place to ensure a fantastic safe race. This autumn’s race is no exception as the field will contain many of the best age groupers in the country in the final showdown of the year fighting for qualification for the 2017 European Standard Distance Duathlon in Spain.
For me personally, 2016 has been a fantastic year. I have had the amazing experience of representing my country wearing the GB kit and racing at the European Duathlon Standard and Long Distance Championships in Kalkar, Germany and in Copenhagen, Denmark. When not racing, I have spent a number of weekends working as part of a really hard working and professional Xtramile event crew team many of whom are competing athletes led by Simon Hill who work tirelessly to produce the best experience at all events. My experience has given me the opportunity to learn for myself what works and see how the really top guys do it and have had many opportunities to talk to multi-sport athletes to really see what makes the difference on race day and what doesn’t.
Oulton Park is always a special race for me as it was the first time I competed in this really gruelling multi event race after years predominantly as a runner, finishing 14 marathons and endless Club races on the road and fells. Duathlon has offered me a totally new challenge and although your basic fitness is transferable along with your structure of training it also incorporates the bike which presents a whole new set of questions that need to be answered.
I would like to share what I feel are the top ‘wins’ for a perfect race on October 2nd:
Back off the training. Physiologically, you can achieve nothing in the last few days prior to a race. The weekend before the event have a steady bike ride or run, or even a short race but don’t do anything crazy. In the few days before the race again just keep ticking over. If you are doing an interval session, keep it at around 75%. You don’t want to blow your race by picking up an injury or going into a big race fatigued. On the day before, I always take a 15 minute run with a few 30 second strides just to keep the legs moving.
Have a pre race massage. Don’t leave it until the day before but Thursday or Friday have a massage as this will flush all the lactic out of your legs and get you ready for race day.
Eat and drink plenty. You can blow all your training by neglecting your diet in the 48 hours prior to your race. Don’t do anything out of the ordinary but up your carbohydrate intake and drink plenty of water particularly on Saturday. Don’t try anything new, the body essentially likes routine.
‘If it aint broke don’t fix it’ If your bike is working, don’t book it in for a service in the days leading up to the race. If it is in full working order, leave it. Race day is also not the time to try out your new bike, wheels or kit. If you are not 100% comfortable in training with the equipment you have, leave it at home. If you must clean your bike use a cloth to clean up the frames and wipe your rims but unless anything desperately needs replacing, leave it. New components may gain you a couple of seconds, however if you bike has been taken apart it may not be quite as you wish and on race day you have a ‘mechanical’. Inflate your tyres on Friday or Saturday, unless you are running a slow puncture which clearly you will need to change, your tyres will be fine. Inflating your tyres to max on race day is not only hard work but will also increase your risk of a blow out in the race. If you plan to feed during the race, I like to attach my gels to my cross bar with masking tape and they can easily be removed during the race. For standard distance you are probably looking at 2 gels and 1 for sprint. One drinks bottle should also be sufficient.
Get organisedandpack the night before. I always pack my kit the night before, even pack it into the car if you can leave it in a safe place, the less you have to do on race day the better. Try and get to Oulton Park a couple of hours before the race starts. Collecting numbers, applying your tattoos, getting changed and racking your bike all takes time. If you are running late it increases stress and could be detrimental to your race. It is part of the whole experience to meet friends and fellow competitors and soak up the atmosphere in the arena. Also there is a detailed race briefing which you must attend and also get in a 10/15 minute jog pre race to loosen up and calm the nerves.
Transition. If you are after a PB or Age group qualification, your time spent in transition can be the difference between success and failure. Take time to visualise exactly where your spot is. Even though markers are not allowed, look for a landmark which will remind you where you need to go. When you are tired, it is not as easy as it sounds. Keep the belongings that you take into transition to the minimum, keep it simple. Have a look at exactly where the mount/dismount lines are and work out where you need to apply the brakes and get your shoes off and out of the cleats. Again when you are in a race situation and fatigued, mounting and dismounting is not as easy as it sounds.
Check the weather. Have a look at the local forecast and dress accordingly. I always go simply for a tri suit and if its looks like it is going to be cold, go for a thermal or arm warmers.
Count the laps. Oulton Park is a multi-lap race. Many people will be using GPS on their bikes or watches but always have back up. I go for loom bands on my tri bars and move them at the end of each lap as a fool proof method. Particularly as Standard distance, counting the laps isn’t easy.
Pace judgement. You won’t achieve your goal in the first mile of the race but you could easily lose it. Remember if you are Standard, you could be out for over 2 hours and the last run will hurt. On the first couple of laps on the bike, take it steady, get used to the track, the bends the gradients and really push on in the second half. Also the bike is the time to keep your fluids and energy levels topped up. On the second run, give everything you have, it will hurt but remember particularly if you are after age group qualification, every second could count to get you that top percentage so leave it all out on the track.
Safety first. At the end of the day, however much you love your sport and want to succeed, we are all there because we enjoy it and most of us have to be able to go to work the next day. Always ride within your limits, look after your fellow competitors and also yourself. There will be cyclists moving at 60kph at times so no sudden manoeuvres and stay focussed. Cutting someone else up could save you a few seconds but if you get it wrong you could end up with serious injury and causing an accident yourself. Blatant dangerous riding can lead to instant disqualification.
Recovery. As soon as you cross the finish line your recovery process begins. Erdinger non-alcoholic beer is a great start as it contains all the appropriate ingredients to start your rehydration. Have a protein shake as soon as you can as well as a massage. Within the first couple hours after the race have some lunch, even a beer just don’t go too crazy. Have a few easy days’ post-race as after a long hard race you are very susceptible to injury.
Enjoy it and reflect on your achievement, whether it is competing your first duathlon, a PB or securing Age group qualification. Good luck!