The Time of My Life!

Your Tri Challenge Journey


By now you are well into your Tri Journey and probably getting excited about your Ironman 70.3 goal, which is less than three months away! As we all know, training does not always go according to plan. If this has happened to you, do not panic! There is still more than enough time to get fit enough to complete the event. – BY DERICK MARCISZ

The most important part of training is to assess what you have been doing, so hopefully you have kept some sort of record of your training. We all know that training does not always go according to plan; you get sick or injured, or have family and business responsibilities. If your training has not gone quite according to the plan, don’t stress! And most importantly, do no try to catch up on training! Stick with the programme. You can even reduce the distance of the longer runs and rides if necessary. By the time you read this in early November, there is still more than two months till race day – more than enough time!

Try to be ready for the serious or hard part of the programme, the four to five weeks from early December till early January. During these weeks you need to focus on your triathlon goal and try to train consistently during this phase.

The five weeks in December is the serious part of the programme and you need to be doing at least six training sessions (two of each sport), but preferably training seven or eight times a week! Some of the KEY areas to focus on during this important phase of training include:

Nutrition: The 70.3 event will take most novices anything between 5:30 to 8:00 hours to finish. An event of this length requires nutrition to be taken during the event and the best time to eat and hydrate is during the bike leg (which is the longest in terms of time). This means you should train with the food, supplements and drinks that you will use during the race.

Proper nutrition also means that you replenish your energy levels during training, to ensure that you are properly hydrated and your energy levels are at the correct level for the next training session. Remember, nutrition is not about spending a lot of money on supplements, vitamins and energy drinks. It is about eating and drinking before, during and after training. On long bike rides I eat bananas and marmite or peanut butter sandwiches, and drink lots of water. Sometimes it is best to keep it simple!

Race pace: Once you have completed your November training you should have a good idea of the pace that you believe that you can maintain for each sport on race day. You need to use this information for the pace that you do your long rides and runs at, as well as the open water swims. Pacing yourself in three sports is very different to pacing yourself in just a running or bike event. Runners, especially, will find that the pace that they run the 21km in a 70.3 event is much slower than what they do in races and training! You need to train at this slower pace on the longer runs.

Hopefully up to now you have been able to train consistently with two sessions per week of each sport. The idea now is to build this up to three per week, with a minimum of two sessions per week. The programme will be based on three sessions of each sport during December, but it is important to remember that this is only a guide. We all adapt to training differently, so the simple rule is to take a day’s rest or miss a session if you are tired. Also, make sure that you try to maintain the six sessions, two of each discipline, as a minimum during this phase – every other session is then a bonus!

The basic training for each sport during this phase will be as follows (based on three sessions a week):

• The longest run will be 20-22km aiming to run this at target 70.3 pace (easy).
• One hilly steady run a week, working the hills.
• One quality tempo session a week. Something that works well for me is an out-and-back tempo run: run easy 4-5km along a fairly flat road and then turn around and run back briskly, with the last 1.5k at a good pace.

• All rides should be done with tri bars fitted to your bike.
• The longest bike ride will be 90km, aiming to cycle this at target 70.3 pace (working on cadence).
• One bike session of either hills or a faster tempo ride.
• One easy relaxed bike ride.

• The swim distance both in the pool or open water should be 2km and you should ideally swim three times a week. Swimming is the one sport of the three that is very easy on the body, so you can swim as much as you are able!
• One open water swim per week is essential (2km straight swim in a dam or in the sea at 70.3 race pace.)
• Always swim in open water with other triathletes and use these sessions to practise ‘sighting’ the swim buoys as well as swimming in a group.

Brick sessions involve doing two of the sports, in the order of competition, during training. These are mostly bike-to-run bricks, as this is when most athletes are tired. Running after biking is not easy! The aim is always to keep the ‘brick’ run short, so you can do a run after a long bike of 90km. Also, a shorter run will prevent injury and exhaustion. These sessions are simply to prepare the legs for running after biking and NOT to replicate the race situation. Try to do one bike-to-run brick every week during the December phase of training.

I would advise all 70.3 competitors to do a standard Olympic distance race of 1.5km swim, 40km bike and 10km run at the end of November or early December to experience a triathlon. This is essential before you tackle the 70.3. Check out the calendar on, pick an event, rest up for two days and do the event at a good but not all-out effort. This will help you to experience the transition from swim to bike and bike to run, and work out your strategy for 70.3.

I hope that you have found a group to train with; because triathlon training can be hard and it is best to share your experiences with like-minded athletes. I find that the group dynamic motivates one to get out there every day. Just make sure that the group that you train with is at your level.


Don’t miss out on our final article of four in the December edition! It will explain the taper process and will provide you with some helpful final race day tips!

Derick Marcisz has 40 years’ experience as a runner, cyclist and triathlete. He has run 25 sub-2:30 marathons with a PB of 2:17:17. His 21km PB is 65:36. He has been involved in triathlons since 2000 and has represented the South African Age Group Team at four World Championships with a best placing of 20th in his age group. He has completed four Half Ironman events with a best time of 4:59. Derick is the current 2010 SA Triathlon Champ in the Olympic distance for age group 55-59 years. He has been involved in coaching and assisting athletes for many years and is currently doing an ITU Triathlon Coaching Course.

Drop us an email at if you have any questions for Derick.

MONDAY         6 Dec   REST DAY 
TUESDAY         7 Dec   RUN            10km hilly run working hard on the hills 
                                       SWIM          2km – warm up 300 easy, 5 x 300m with 60sec rest, 200m easy WEDNESDAY  8 Dec   BIKE            30km easy ride with 3km brick run
THURSDAY      9 Dec   RUN            10km Tempo run – run out 5km easy and return at a brisk pace
                                       SWIM          2km – 4 x 500m steady swims with 2mins rest
FRIDAY            10 Dec BIKE            30km ride steady pace
SATURDAY     11 Dec  AM – RUN   Long run – 20km at very easy relaxed pace. 
                                       PM – SWIM Continuous swim 2km in the pool or open water
SUNDAY          12 Dec  BIKE            Long ride – 80km at  easy pace. 
MONDAY         13 Dec  REST DAY 
TUESDAY         14 Dec  RUN            10km hilly run working hard on the hills.
                                        SWIM          2km – warm up 300m, 500/400/300/200/100m race pace with 30sec rest, 200m easy
WEDNESDAY  15 Dec  BIKE           30km easy ride
THURSDAY      16 Dec  RUN           10km Tempo run – run out 5km easy and return at a brisk pace
                                        SWIM         2km – 500/400/300/200/100m with 2x50m fast after each swim FRIDAY            17 Dec  BIKE           30km steady ride including some hills, either on a hilly course or repeats
SATURDAY     18 Dec  AM – RUN  Long run – 20km at steady easy relaxed pace 
                                       PM – SWIM Continuous swim 2km in the pool or open water
SUNDAY          19 Dec  BIKE            Long ride – 80km at steady easy pace with 3km brick run
MONDAY        20 Dec  REST DAY 
TUESDAY        21 Dec  RUN             10km hilly run working hard on the hills
                                       SWIM           2km – warm up 300m easy, 5 x 300m with 60sec rest, 200m easy
WEDNESDAY 22 Dec  BIKE             30km steady ride with 3km brick run
THURSDAY     23 Dec  AM – RUN    15km easy run 
                                       PM – SWIM  2km – warm up 500m easy, 2 x 500m fairly hard 2min rest, 500m easy
FRIDAY            24 Dec  BIKE             30km steady ride
SATURDAY     25 Dec  REST DAY    Christmas day – take a rest – enjoy Christmas lunch!
SUNDAY          26 Dec  BIKE             Long ride – 85km at steady easy pace. Work on cadence
MONDAY         27 Dec  REST DAY 
TUESDAY         28 Dec  RUN             10km hilly run working hard on the hills
                                        SWIM           2km – warm up 300m easy, 5 x 300m with 60sec rest, 200m easy
WEDNESDAY  29 Dec  BIKE             30km steady ride with 5km brick run
THURSDAY      30 Dec  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             31 Dec  REST/JOG    Run 15-20km
SATURDAY        1 Jan   REST/SWIM  Rest / Easy swim
SUNDAY             2 Jan  BIKE              Long ride – 90km Hilly ride at easy pace. Focus on nutrition during the ride.
MONDAY           3 Jan  REST DAY     This is your last hard week of training!
TUESDAY           4 Jan   RUN               10km hilly run working hard on the hills. 
                                       SWIM             2km – warm up 300m, 500/400/300/200/100m race pace with 30sec rest, 200m easy
WEDNESDAY     5 Jan  BIKE              30km easy ride
THURSDAY         6 Jan  RUN              10km Tempo run – run out 5km easy and return at a brisk pace 
                                        SWIM            2km – warm up 300m easy, 5 x 300m with 60sec rest, 200m easy
FRIDAY               7 Jan  BIKE             30km steady ride including some hills, either on a hilly course or repeats
SATURDAY         8 Jan  AM – RUN    Long run – 20km at 70.3 projected race pace.
                                        PM – SWIM  Continuous swim 2km in the pool or open water at 70.3 race pace.
SUNDAY             9 Jan  BIKE             Long ride – 90km at 70.3 race pace. Focus on your nutrition. 5km brick run