Eyes on the Prize

Take up the Tri Challenge! From Novice Triathlete to 70.3 Finisher


You love sport but lately it feels as if you’re stuck in a rut! It seems as if you’ve run it all; for some it’s Comrades, for others many half marathons. You’ve even tackled the Argus or the 94.7 Cycle Challenge to break the monotony that running sometimes brings. Why not try a new challenge, something different and exciting yet achievable in terms of training? Why not take up the 70.3 Ironman Challenge in January in Buffalo City, a truly unique and fantastic event? Modern Athlete has put together a 16-week programme, which will take you from novice triathlete to a 70.3 finisher. This is the first of a three-part series of articles to help you achieve a new and unique goal. – BY DERICK MARCISZ

Triathlon is a truly personal challenge. You aim to complete three disciplines and you are your biggest competitor. A single sport usually means you compete against people of similar ability. In triathlon all competitors have very different strengths and weaknesses and that makes triathlon truly unique. Managing training and racing is also very different when doing three different sports!

The Ironman distance is still the ultimate sports achievement, however this requires a big commitment in terms of training time for the event. The 70.3 can give you all the glamour of a world-class triathlon, with a great sense of personal achievement when finishing, but with a lot less time needed for training. Both the race distances and training distances are manageable.

The Spec-Savers Ironman 70.3 SA is held on 23 January in Buffalo City (East London) and is therefore ideally placed on the calendar, allowing you to train in December (when most of us have time), but it will not interfere with any running or cycling plans you may have for 2011. In fact, it would be an ideal base for anyone going on to train for a marathon or even Comrades. The Ironman 70.3 SA consists of a 1.9km sea swim, a 90km (hilly) bike ride followed by a 21km run.

The programme will be split into the following:
4 Oct to 31 Oct – Four-week introduction and adapting to tri training.
1 Nov to 9 Jan – Ten-week structured programme.
10 Jan to 23 Jan – Two-week tapering programme to
race day.

These are some basic principles you need to consider:
Consistency is the key – Follow the programme as closely as you can, however if you miss sessions, do not try and make them up, move on to the next workout. Try to do all three disciplines at least twice a week during the structured part of the programme.
Rest and recovery – Rest when you are tired and make sure you recover from each session with proper nutrition. Always approach each training session on the basis of ‘train today’ so that you can ‘train tomorrow’ and this will allow you to achieve consistency.
Train smart and specifically – Aim to achieve results using your time effectively. Each session should always have a specific purpose and should be relative to the event you are training for.

In this article we will provide you with the training programme for the first phase of training until the end of October. The first four weeks are a basic introduction to balancing your training for the three different sports and adapting to the different training. The first part of the programme starts the week of Monday 4 October, and most of you will read this article during early September. What you need to do before starting the programme is to be able to complete the following distances of the various sports during September, as these will be the starting distances
in the programme:
RUN: You should be able to run 12-14km at an easy pace feeling relatively comfortable.
BIKE: You should be able to ride 35-40km continuously,
again at an easy pace. You should know how to use the
gears properly and how to climb hills. Your bike should be serviced to ensure it is in working condition when you start the programme.
SWIM: You need to be able to swim at least 250m (ten laps in most indoor pools) without stopping and you must be able to cover 1km in the pool with rest in between sets. Start with 100m rest until recovered and continue until you can cover 1km.

During September do at least one sport once each week. Triathlon requires skill in three different sports, however one of the key principles to remember is, in training, work on improving your weakest sport, but never neglect your strengths.

We will start very simply with one to two sessions per week of each sport and build up to ideally two to three of each per week. This means around six to seven sessions a week – not very easy to maintain but achievable. Training for each sport will encompass the following:
Running: The longest run will be 20-21km at peak training.
Other runs will be shorter and around 10-12km. This will
include some tempo faster work later in the programme.
Biking: The longest bike ride will be 90-100km at peak training. Other shorter 30-50km rides will include some hill work as well as tempo riding.
Swimming: One open water swim per week is essential, doing 2km straight swim in a dam or in the sea. Other pool sessions will also be around 2km concentrating on developing technique.

Remember, once you have committed to the challenge enter
the race. You need to enter early, as entries are limited. Entering also serves as a commitment to start training and commitment is the key to success.


WEEK 1 – 4 October to 10 October
Monday 4 October Rest day Get your mind ready for the training ahead!
Tuesday 5 October Run 10km steady easy run
Wednesday 6 October Bike 1hr – 25km easy bike either on the road or spin indoors
Thursday 7 October Swim 1.5km – warm up 250m easy, 5 x 200m with
30sec rest, 250m easy
Friday 8 October Rest day 
Saturday 9 October am – run Long run – 14km at steady relaxed pace
  pm – swim Continuous swim – 1.5km in the pool or open water
Sunday 10 October Bike Long ride – 40/45km at steady easy pace
WEEK 2 – 11 October to 17 October
Monday 11 October Rest day 
Tuesday 12 October Run 10km steady run, running last 2km at brisk pace
Wednesday 13 October Bike 1hr – 25km easy bike either on the road or spin indoors
Thursday 14 October Swim 1.5km – warm up 250m easy, 10 x 100m with 30sec rest, 250m easy
Friday 15 October Rest day 
Saturday 16 October am – run Long run – 15km at steady relaxed pace
  pm – swim Continuous swim – 1.6km in the pool or open water
Sunday 17 October Bike Long ride – 45/50km at steady easy pace
WEEK 3 – 18 October to 24 October
Monday 18 October Rest day 
Tuesday 19 October Run 10km steady run, running last 2km at brisk pace
Wednesday 20 October Bike 1hr – 25km easy bike either on the road or spin indoors
Thursday 21 October Swim 1.6km – warm up 200m easy, 4 x 300m with 60sec rest, 200m easy
Friday 22 October Rest day 
Saturday 23 October am – run Long run – 16km at steady easy relaxed pace
  pm – swim Continuous swim – 1.7km in the pool or open water
Sunday 24 October Bike Long ride – 50km at steady easy pace. Work on cadence
WEEK 4 – 25 October to 31 October
Monday 25 October Rest day 
Tuesday 26 October Run 10km steady run, running last 2km at brisk pace
Wednesday 27 October Bike 1hr – 25km easy bike either on the road or spin indoors
Thursday 28 October Swim 1.6km – warm up 300m easy, 7 x 150m with 45sec rest, 250m easy
Friday 29 October Rest day 
Saturday 30 October am – run Long run – 17km at steady easy relaxed pace
  pm – swim Continuous swim – 1.8km in the pool or open water
Sunday 31 October Bike Long ride – 50/55km at steady easy pace. Work on cadence