29 Apr, 2013

We Dare YOU to Tri

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 easy.

?         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 pace.

?         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 Harder


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 triathletes.


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 sleep.

?         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 focussed.

?         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