Deep Breaths!

We Dare YOU to Tri


Since launching the Academy two months ago, our numbers
have grown to 35 registered athletes. The academy, which was launched after our
highly successful inaugural Dare to Tri programme last year, now enables more
triathletes to finish one of the world’s most magnificent triathlons, as our athletes
not only receive a weekly training programme, but they can also attend weekly
coached sessions.


Coach Derick Marcisz says he is happy with the academy
members’ progress and is now moving the training into the 10-week main
progressive fitness part of the programme, where your fitness will be taken up
a level by progressively adding sessions and distance. The basic Dare to Tri
rules of triathlon still apply and are the cornerstones for any programme to
succeed: Consistency, specific training, and enough rest and recovery.



During September you hopefully managed a consistent
six sessions a week and ended that training with a triathlon race, so you
should have a good idea of where your strengths and weaknesses are. Each athlete is different, so you need
to work on your weaknesses, but never neglect your strengths!


The plan over the next five weeks, phase one of the Progressive Fitness Training section,
is to add one session each week till you get to a peak week of nine sessions.
We then take a recovery week before another build-up phase. The training for
each sport will be as follows:

RUNNING: The longest run so far has been
15km and we will build this to 20km. The pace should be easy and relaxed. The
second run of 10km should alternate between including hills (for strength) and
faster running (for speed). Any other running you do should be short and very

BIKING: The longest ride you would have
done is 70km and we now build this up to 90km. These rides should be at a relaxed pace, with you getting used to
spinning a fairly high cadence of around 90 revolutions per minute. The second
ride should be on the road and include some hills. Any other rides/spinning sessions should be short and at an easy

SWIMMING: The swim distance to
date is around 1.5km and we will now take this up to 2km. One open water swim per week is essential, doing a 2km straight
swim in a dam or in the sea. 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. Other pool sessions should focus on good technique. Remember,
triathletes get their cardio fitness from running and cycling – use the swim
sessions to perfect your technique.

BRICK SESSIONS: You can now start to
add ‘brick sessions’ to your training – both swim-to-bike and bike-to-run. Swim-to-bike
bricks can be done indoors: Swim a continuous 1km in the pool, then immediately
do 30min fast on a stationary bike. Bike-to-run bricks can be included after
any of your bike rides, either the shorter midweek rides or the longer weekend
rides. Keep the runs short (3-8km), and work on running form/cadence and
adapting to the heavy leg feeling you have after riding. Experiment with the
pace of the runs, from easy to including some faster surges.



There are many events on the calendar during November,
such as the 94.7 Cycle Challenge, several triathlon events, and a multitude of
running races. Do not try and do all
these events!
I know it is tempting, but be selective about the events you
do and make sure you rest before and recover after these events. I personally
believe that if you do too many events, you lose that special feeling of going
to do a ‘race’. My advice is save the ‘racing’ for the events you want to do
well in or where you want to push yourself.


Brought to you by TOTAL IMMERSION

Swim Smarter, Not


We’ve all heard the smarter, not harder saying before, usually to do
with work, but nothing could be more true for swimming, especially for


If you are new to triathlon or ramping up your
training for the coming season, you may be feeling tired and even a little
overwhelmed right now, because juggling three disciplines at once will
certainly add to your stress. One of the biggest mistakes at this stage will be
to try to push on harder and fit in more just to make the weekly mileage or
tick off your programme requirements. Whilst this may benefit your run and bike,
it certainly won’t have much effect on your swimming – and could even make you
worse, because you may just get good at struggling!


Here are a few tips for when the going gets tough:

Sometimes it’s more
beneficial to skip an early morning session if you haven’t had a good sleep.
Rather squeeze in a 30min session at lunch time and get a few hours extra

If you go to the pool
and find your mind wandering and you just can’t keep your mind on the job,
rather quit the session. It’s pointless to practise swimming unless you are

If your body is tired
from a long bike and/or run session at the weekend, rather use your swim
session as active recovery. Do a nice long leisurely swim and focus on strokes
per length rather than time. This way you work on technique but give your body
a rest.

Think of your swim
session as practice rather than training. You’ll get fitness through your
practice as well as your bike and run sessions.

Set the primarily
goal of your swim sessions to extend your ability to focus on your form the
whole time, and not on fitness. Practising extending your focus in the pool
will make the open water race experience easy, because there will be no room
for outside elements like crowds and rough water.

Spend a whole session
just doing drills and no swimming, but be sure to know why you are doing the
drills, otherwise it’s pointless.


In short, you can use your swim practice to give your body a rest and
get your brain to do the work.



Each month Modern Athlete
will feature some of our Dare to Tri Academy members here. This month we chat
to two of our novices, Jean Louw,
who with wife Lara is one of three
husband and wife teams registered at the Academy.


A couple of years ago I watched a triathlon sprint
series event on TV and thought that it looked like a lot of fun and a good,
healthy lifestyle that we could do as a family. I am an entrepreneur and
believe anything you can perceive and really believe can be achieved. I also
enjoy aiming for the highest possible goals and therefore I made it my goal to
one day complete Ironman. So the Modern Athlete Dare to Try Academy seemed like
the perfect vehicle to help Lara and I get fit by
following a specific programme with other novices, serving as a motivation that
we are not alone.


Starting the training was initially difficult. My wife
and I haven’t exercised for years and I have never trained for anything to a
point of being fit. Being part of the Dare to Tri Academy is my chance to be
fit and push myself to the limit. My wife comes from a sporting family, but she
suffered an injury back in primary school that prevented her from continuing
with her sport.


We have just completed our second BSG triathlon and
feel that we are now starting to get more confidence and feel more comfortable
in each discipline. There is some competitiveness between Lara and I. She finished
four minutes ahead of me at our first triathlon and I had to dig deep in our
second event to beat her by two minutes! It’s great fun that we are more or
less on the same fitness level.


We really enjoy the BSG sprint triathlons and would
like to keep doing them. Olympic distance is our next longer distance goal
before we tackle the 70.3. Then one of our dreams is to travel abroad and do
triathlons in different countries with our kids.




Total Immersion South Africa – Respected swim coach and Total Immersion SA founder Georgie Thomas has
completed many triathlons, including three full Ironmans here in SA, as well
competing in the 70.3 Half Ironman World Champs and World Long Distance
Triathlon Champs. More info at

DNALYSIS Biotechnology – Founded to bring state-of-the-art molecular
technologies to the South African health and wellness markets, DNAlysis has
developed a range of genetic tests that allow for the personalisation of diet,
exercise and nutrition advice according to an athlete’s unique genetic make-up.
More info at


Spec-Savers Ironman 70.3 South Africa – Presented by World Endurance South Africa (in
collaboration with World Triathlon Corporation), the specialist triathlon event
organiser responsible for the highly successful Spec-Savers Ironman SA and
other triathlon and endurance events around South Africa. More info at


Modern Athlete magazine – South
Africa’s biggest monthly publication for everyday people who embrace the modern
approach to health and fitness, covering road running, trail running and
multi-sport as well as cycling, swimming and adventure racing. More info at