When it comes to Alpe d'Huez triathlon training tips, climbing Alpe d’Huez itself is what draws competitors to this race and the biggest favour you can do yourself if you’re entering is to cycle there beforehand if you can. A weekend knocking off big climbs in the Alps in the months before the race is perfect bike training and will recalibrate you mentally to cope with the reality of tackling these monsters. You don’t need superhuman fitness but having prior experience of an hour or more straight uphill in first gear is a massive psychological boost pre-race that UK hill repeats, while effective, can't mimic.
Secondly, don’t forget the rest of the race. Alpe d’Huez is the draw but just 14kms of the course. There are another 101kms of bike in there with two more climbs, not to mention the swim and the run. Having a strong run in the bank is key as you’ll be hitting it on a mental low after the excitement of summiting Alpe d’Huez.
Finally, pack well. The Alps in July should be scorching, but often they aren’t. This is a mountain region after all.
Alpe d’Huez triathlon, training programme:
By Jonathan Lewis, performance coach (www.balancephysio.com)
“Triathlon programmes can be very prescriptive. Fine for pros, less good for the rest of us. The key is to build slowly and give yourself time.
“You’ll gravitate to the discipline you’re most comfortable with, so force yourself into training the others instead – they need most work.
“For the swim, prepare for cold, open water by training in that environment, practicing core skills like sighting.
“On the bike, all miles are good, but you need hill work. Alpe d’Huez is a major climb. Hill repeats on smaller inclines are great if you don’t have large hills nearby, as is hitting the exercise bike in a hard gear for 30-60 minutes.
“Have fun and mix things up. After your swim, run home. If you run back from work, jump on the bike for an hour. If you cycle in the gym, hit the treadmill afterwards. It’s all about versatility.
“For targets here’s a guide for a relative beginner, looking to take on the short Alpe d’Huez course (1.2km swim, 30km bike, 7km run). Aim for at least one session of each discipline per week, with a weekend session on your weakest:
Weeks 1-2: run 20-30 mins run, swim 500m, cycle one hour
Weeks 3-4: run 45 mins, swim 800-1000m, cycle two hours
Week 5: match the race distances in all disciplines, go further if you’re feeling strong enough
Week 6: taper. Relax, eat well, train very lightly if at all, prepare your bike and kit for the big day
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