Duathlons, both sprint and standard distance, are very intense events and nutrition plays a critical part in getting the most out of yourself on the big day. Here is our guide to planning your fuelling to tackle a duathlon.

A Duathlon is a multi-sport discipline consisting of cycling and running, typically in a run-bike-run format. These are run over a standard or sprint distance. Duathlons are intense and fuelling plays a key role in being able to get everything out during all 3 legs of the race.

The high intensity of a duathlon means the body will turn to using carbohydrates as its dominant fuel source. The problem with this is the higher the intensity, the quicker our carbohydrates stores deplete. So this means it’s very important to have an event nutrition plan to keep topping up these stores so you don’t get the dreaded ‘bonk’.

We’d always advise having a plan, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. Trialling the products you’re going to use for the event during training is always a good idea. Basically, try and limit any unnecessary surprises on the big day.


Leading up the event you don’t necessarily need to eat more, but it’s a good idea to have carbohydrates making up 50-60% of your meals the day before. Activity in the days before an event is usually less to allow yourself to be rested and ready to give your best performance on the day. This rest twinned with the increased percentage of carbohydrates in the diet means that your body can load it’s carbohydrate stores to maximise energy supplies ready for the duathlon.

A high carbohydrate pre event meal should aim to be consumed around 3 hours before the start. This allows it time to be digested before the start. Aim for familiar and simple foods. Something like a large bowl of porridge, rice pudding or a simple pasta dish is often a good idea. Always aim to start the event fully hydration too. Sipping on a mix of OTE Hydro Tab and water for the 24-48 hours before the start will allow you to get on top of this. Rehydration takes longer than you think.

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Race Plan

A good rule to follow whether it’s a sprint distance or standard is to try take onboard 20g of carbohydrates every 20 minutes. Try and adopt this fuelling strategy from the start. Remember, during the first run leg you may feel great and not think you need to fuel but you are actually eating early on in the Duathlon to help fuel that last leg. If you start fuelling when you start to feel tired then it’s already too late.

How you take on board the 20g of carbohydrates is up to you and often down to personal preference. Due to the high intensity of a Duathlon, products like energy gels and energy drinks make taking on board carbohydrates much easier than say a banana or an Anytime Bar. That being said, if you prefer solid food then that is better than taking nothing at all; however it will be easier to consume on the bike

Setting yourself a rough race time is the best idea and this way you can gage your fuelling requirements.

For example for the Tri Hard Stockton Duathlon your aim might be 2 hours 30 minutes and so your fuelling could looks something like this:

Run 1 (10km taking 50-60 minutes):

Bike (40km taking 70-80 minutes):

  • 1 x 750ml of OTE Energy Drink (large mouthful in transition)- The bike is your main opportunity to take on board hydration so try make sure this bottle is empty by the time you hit the second transition.
  • 1 x Energy Gel

Run 2 (5km taking 30 minutes):

Try pick up fluid along the way where available.

For a sprint event, you apply the same concept of 20g of carbohydrates per 20 minutes.

After the Event

Recovery is also very important after such an intense event, especially if you want to get back into training again soon after. Aim to consume at OTE Recovery Drink with in 30 minutes of finishing. This will help kick start the recovery process.

Then try and follow this up with a normal meal no longer than 3 hours after. This will help your muscles repair and help replenish your energy stores. It’s also important to get back on top of your hydration status as fluid consumption may have been limited during the event.

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