Jo’burg to Snow’berg on a Whim!

Take up the Tri Challenge


I hope you have decided to take up the Tri Challenge and are ready to show those triathletes what runners can do. If you have not entered the event, do so immediately. Entries are selling out fast! This is the second of our three-part series of articles to help you cross the finish line at the Ironman 70.3 in January in Buffalo City. – BY DERICK MARCISZ

I am sure your introduction to Tri Training went well and you have coped with the concept of training for three very different sports. Let’s revisit the basic principles outlined in the first article and apply them to the next phase of training.

 Consistency is key; hopefully you have managed
to do the three different sports at least twice a week, for at least a few weeks. We will now aim to increase this slowly, but you should still try to be consistent week after week, and even if you are not able to increase the number of sessions, try to keep a constant two sessions for each sport.

 As the distances and intensity increase you need to make sure you rest when you are feeling tired. Change your rest day to suit your specific needs and, as mentioned last time, approach each training session on the basis of ‘train today’ so that you can ‘train tomorrow’. You should finish every training session with something in reserve. Training too hard one day means that the next session becomes difficult, and that injury or illness can easily occur. The programme is only a guide – listen to your body and rest when necessary!

 Aim to achieve results using your time effectively. Each session should have a specific purpose and should be relative to the event you are training for. This principle is very important as the key to success in triathlon is putting together a performance over the three sports. When you are doing three different sports two to three times each week, this becomes important. As runners, we often go out for a very easy run with no specific purpose. When training for three sports there is no room for sessions without purpose.

Hopefully you have been able to do a few weeks of two sessions per week of each sport. The idea is to build this up to three per week with a minimum of two. From the six sessions you are doing, add one per week until you get to nine sessions in a week. Then go back to six and build up again.

The basic training for each sport will be as follows:

 The longest run so far has been 17km and we will build this to 20km maximum.
  The pace should be easy and relaxed.
 We will also introduce one quality session per week and will alternate between a hill repeat session and a tempo run.
 Any other runs will be at an easy pace.

  The longest bike ride you should have done is 50-55km and we will now build this up to 80km maximum.
 These should be at a relaxed pace and getting used to spinning a fairly high cadence of around 90 revolutions per minute.
 We will also introduce some hill work, either repeats or a ride over a hilly course during the midweek shorter ride.
 The 70.3 bike course is quite hilly and you need to get used to riding hills.
  Any other rides are short and at an easy pace.

I would presume that as a novice triathlete you are riding a road bike. I would recommended that you purchase a set of tri bars for your bike. It is important to be aerodynamic on a cycle of 90km, remembering that you will be riding on your own. Drafting or slipstreaming is not allowed in these triathlon events. You need to practise riding in the time trial position on your bike.

    The swim distance to date has been around 1.6km and we will now take this up to 2km.
   One open water swim per week is essential, doing 2km straight swim in a dam or in the sea.
    Always swim in open water with other triathletes and use these sessions to practice ‘sighting’ the swim buoys as well as swimming in a group.
   Other pool sessions should focus on good technique, and also include some drills if you can.

I generally keep my pool sessions simple, as opposed to the classic training of swimmers. For the 70.3 the aim is to be able to swim the 2km comfortably. It is a fairly short swim in terms of time compared to the bike and run, so for novices the time of the swim is not important. The swim leg of the 70.3 is wetsuit legal, however a wetsuit is reasonably costly especially if this is only a once-off event! Use one if you can as this will definitely help a novice in the swim, but the distance is short enough that it is not essential.

We now need to introduce ‘brick’ sessions into your training. These are sessions where you do two of the sports in the same order as the race, and get your body and mind used to cycling after swimming and then, more importantly, running after cycling.

Swimming to bike bricks are best done at the gym: Swim a continuous 1km at a good pace and immediately afterwards, ride a stationary bike for 30 minutes, again aiming for a good speed on the bike. This is the easier brick session.

Biking to running bricks are much harder: The aim here is to run a few kilometres after a bike ride, either the long bike ride on the weekend or after a shorter midweek ride. The distance run should be short, starting at 3km and doing a maximum of 6-8km. These sessions are difficult as the muscles you use for cycling and running are very different. When running off the bike, work on your running ‘form’ and ‘cadence’ (number of strides per minute). Try to do these runs at the pace you would expect to run in the 70.3, which will be significantly slower than your usual 21km times.

There are many triathlon events on the calendar leading up to the 70.3. It is important to experience these events as part of your preparation. Training is no substitute for doing a race to experience the swimming in a large group, transitions, pacing your ride and then running on tired legs!

Start with one of the BSG/Energade sprint events (600m swim/20km bike/5km run) and then in November try a standard Olympic distance race (1.5km swim/40km bike/10km run). Visit and check out the events calendar.

Find a group to train with. The fun part about triathlon is training with others. Try to find a training group in your area that will help and assist novices with their training (The Jeppe Quondam Club in Bedfordview has a very active triathlon section that trains together. Contact me for further details if you are interested).



WEEK 5 – 1 November to 7 November
Monday 1 November Rest day 
Tuesday 2 November Run 10km steady easy run
Wednesday 3 November Bike 30km steady ride including some hills, either on a hilly course or repeats
Thursday 4 November Swim 1.8km – warm up 300m easy, 4 x 300m with 60sec rest, 300m easy
Friday 5 November Rest day 
Saturday 6 November am – run Long run – 18km at steady easy relaxed pace
  pm – swim Continuous swim 2km in the pool or open water
Sunday 7 November Bike Long ride – 60km at steady easy pace
WEEK 6 – 8 November to 14 November
Monday 8 November Rest day 
Tuesday 9 November Run 10km tempo run – run out 5km easy and return at a brisk pace
Wednesday 10 November Bike 30km easy ride
Thursday 11 November Swim 1.8km – warm up 500m easy, 10 x 100m with 30sec rest, 300m easy
Friday 12 November Bike 30km steady ride including some hills, either on a hilly course or repeats
Saturday 13 November am – run Long run – 18km at steady easy relaxed pace
  pm – swim Continuous swim 2km in the pool or open water
Sunday 14 November Bike Long ride – 65km at steady easy pace
WEEK 7 – 15 November to 21 November
Monday 15 November Rest day 
Tuesday 16 November Run 10km hills either run a hilly course or do 4/5 x 300m hill repeats
Wednesday 17 November Bike 30km easy ride
Thursday 18 November am – run 10km easy run
  pm – swim 2km – warm up 500m easy, 2 x 500m fairly hard, 2min rest, 500m easy
Friday 19 November Bike 30km steady ride including some hills, either on a hilly course or repeats
Saturday 20 November am – run Long run – 20km at steady easy relaxed pace
  pm – swim Continuous swim 1.7km in the pool or open water
Sunday 21 November Bike Long ride – 70km at steady easy pace. Work on cadence
WEEK 8 – 22 November to 28 November
Monday 22 November Rest day This is the peak training week! 9 sessions!
Tuesday 23 November Run 10km steady run, running last 2km at brisk pace
  Swim 2km – warm up 300m easy, 5 x 300m with 60sec rest, 200m easy
Wednesday 24 November Bike 30km easy ride
Thursday 25 November Run 10km tempo run – run out 5km easy and return at a brisk pace
  Swim 2km – warm up 500m easy, 12 x 100m with 30sec rest, 300m easy
Friday 26 November Bike 30km easy ride with 3km brick run
Saturday 27 November am – run Long run – 15km at steady easy relaxed pace
  pm – swim Continuous swim 2km in the pool or open water
Sunday 28 November Bike Long ride – 75km at steady easy pace. Work on cadence
WEEK 9 – 29 November to 5 December
Monday 29 November  This is a recover week – back to 6 sessions
Tuesday 30 November Run 10km steady easy run
Wednesday 1 December Bike 30km easy ride
Thursday 2 December Swim 1km swim in the pool followed by 45min on stationary bike
Friday 3 December Rest Day  
Saturday 4 December am – run Long run – 18km at steady easy relaxed pace
  pm – swim Continuous swim 2km in the pool or open water
Sunday 5 December Bike Long ride – 80km at steady easy pace. Work on cadence