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My Journey to Duathlon Nationals

By Mike Buenting | June 17, 2016, 11:18 a.m. (ET)

duathlon nationalsBELIEVE! That is a word as a coach I preach to my athletes and to myself. Believe in your training, believe in your ability, and believe you are strong enough to accomplish whatever goals you set for yourself.

2016 Duathlon National Championships in Bend, Oregon, are right around the corner and the main question athletes have to ask themselves is “How bad do I want it?” This is a question I ask myself daily as I make sacrifices to prepare for this event. The go to bed early, the super early morning wakeup calls and all the hard training, hours away from family, work, etc. And I do this because I want it. Training and competing is what fuels me and makes me happy. As I prepare for the Duathlon National Championships, racing other events is part of my journey to test myself and learn things about my current fitness. This journey and these early season events have many ups and downs. And when failure occurs it stings for a bit but then I let it go and remind myself what I say to the athletes I coach.

As a coach I always say, “Failure is OK — it’s part of the process to success.” So often we don’t want to accept and deal with failure, but it’s also very needed and helpful to push us and keep us on the path to reach our goals. So don’t be afraid of failure, accept those not so good races, learn from them and move onto the next one.

For all the athletes all over the country getting ready for Bend to race against the best of the best in the USA Triathlon Duathlon National Championships, here are a few training tips things that Manuela, Pete and myself have been doing.

1. Focus on making your weakness your strength. If hills scare you, train on them. Find hilly routes to bike or run on and attack those hills with that positive attitude that you are going to win and no longer be scared.

2. Add brick workouts to your training. Brick workouts for a sport like duathlon require what I call a “reverse” brick: run first at hard effort then jump on the bike and do some intervals. Over the years what I have learned is running on your limits for that first run can leave you a little exhausted to then hammer out a hard bike effort. Practice this sequence and turn it into a strength.

3. Practice transition. The more transition practice, the quicker and more efficient you’ll be on race day.

4. Don’t wait until race day to figure out the best hydration and nutrition strategy. During training, practice fueling like your would before a race. Eat your prerace meal, go to bed early, get up early the next morning and fuel your body the same way you would on race day. This also applies to what you take into your body during the race to ensure you train with those things and make sure they work for you. Don’t try something new on race day.

5. Come up with your own mantra. I’m all about the spiritual side of things and believe you need to come up with a mantra or positive saying that will help you during dark moments — those moments when your body hurts and wants to quit.

Bend will be an exciting place to visit and racing in a national championship is always exciting! I’m lucky that as a coach two of my athletes are traveling with me to compete: Manuela Knispel the 2015 national champion for women 40-44 and Pete Rainy who is on a tear this season so far with huge progress in his running. The friendships and the journey to events such as this is what make life wonderful! So enjoy your last week of preparation. Best of luck and see you on the West side.

Mike Buenting

Visit the 2016 USA Triathlon Duathlon National Championships event page for more coverage.