Firstly, following on from the previous post, I’d like to start off by saying thank you for all the feedback from everyone. This Triathlon journey has been somewhat humbling and a mental switch to say the least. Before I start covering various topics, I’d like to let you know that this sport is not for everyone, not in the physical sense, but more with regards to the mental capacity required to take part in three prestigious disciplines. If you keep saying to yourself, “I can’t swim, cycle or run” then unfortunately you won’t be able to, but if you have some sort of belief and passion to do so, then believe me, anyone can do a Triathlon whether it’s a short distance or a full Ironman. Just to put the above in perspective, one year ago I was playing hockey 24/7 and on the odd few days I’d attend a couple of gym sessions – no swimming was done on the side, cycling indoors or going on long runs on a Sunday; but this eventually all changed.
Everyone keeps asking me, “When you are doing the full Ironman?” and I simply reply it’s not my time yet. I am still very young and new to the sport, hoping to go as far as possible but more in the shorter duration events.
My goals and aspirations for the future are a bit extreme, but something about this sport tends to steer your mental state in a rather crazy direction. This year has been amazing, and I am deeply grateful for the opportunities that the Man upstairs has given me. I have been lucky enough to complete two 70.3 Ironman’s in our beautiful country, South Africa, and will be ending off the year doing the Standard Bank 5150 in Port Elizabeth.
With regards to 2020, this is dependent on various factors – where I’ll be or what I’ll be doing; but I aim to be recognised as an AWA (All World Athlete), as well as achieve an age group World Championship slot held in Taupo, New Zealand in November 2020.
Okay, so enough about me and all my craziness, today I’ll be covering various topics that will hopefully be useful to all amateurs in the sport, anyone wanting to start out in the sport or people who are just interested in what Triathlon is all about.
1st IRONMAN vs 2nd IRONMAN
As mentioned previously, I have completed two 70.3 distance Ironman’s this year, the first one being in East London and recently the last one in Durban. Before I talk about my preparation for Durban I’d just like to compare the two as I feel it’s a commonly asked question by anyone in the Triathlon family.
Let’s start off with East London; a very tough course, but for me it was in my hometown so that was in my favour with regards to overall support and being able to practise the routes. As it was my first 70.3 Ironman it was always going to be tough and experiencing a headwind of +/- 40 km/hr on the bike home did not help in that respect. On race day, due to heavy swells and the presence of Blue bottles, the swim was shorted to 1.3 km when normally it’s a 1.9km swim. Other than that, everything was pretty straight forward, the Bike route is hilly and the run has one climb that we all tend to fear known as ‘John Bailey’ which really gives the legs a nice teaser, looping it twice before heading home to the red carpet.
Moving onto Durban, beautiful and flat course, but for some this may not be in their favour. Living in Port Elizabeth, I had to travel there by car, organise accommodation, plan my diet and try not to forget anything at home; but luckily for me, I had my beautiful girlfriend Chanel by my side and my family with me every step of the way. The Durban 70.3 route is flat, for both the bike as well as the run, but as expected, race day was extremely humid reaching temperatures of 36 degrees Celsius. This really challenged me mentally, as with it being winter, training temperatures don’t reach anything near this to possibly get your body to adapt and cope with this sort of stress. If you have ever heard of something called “T1 or T2” then you’re luckily already learning the lingo of Triathlon, but if you haven’t this is referred to as Transition 1 which is where you change from Swimming to Cycling, and Transition 2 which is from Cycling to Running. Durban unfortunately makes this part of the race very challenging and requires just that much more concentration for the duration of the event.
Overall, I loved both races and encourage everyone to ty them out. If you want to know which one I thought was easier, I’d gladly say, “Neither of them” but all due respect if you’re searching for a personal best or starting off I’d highly recommended Durban, as the course makes for a fun day out if you’re into that sort of thing.
East London 70.3
PREPARATIONS FOR DURBAN 70.3
After doing East London in late January, the bug had bitten and my love for Triathlon had sky rocketed. In the back of my head, I knew that I needed a new challenge, but this was never to do Durban in the same year, but oh well- things change. I kept on training, going for the odd cycle here and there, as well as swimming and running, but no desire or for any specific reason whatsoever other than staying fit. Sounds rather crazy, but just you wait and see when you start out. In late March I decided to suck it up and pay the entrance fee for Durban 70.3, there was no turning back now. The next morning, I woke up with no alarm at 04:30 am, yes you read that correctly, all out of excitement and proving my shear craziness to do a 1-hour session on the indoor trainer- busting out tunes in the darkness before work.
As the days and weeks went on, so did my training sessions. I followed my training program as well as I could while working a standard Monday to Friday 9-hour job as a full-time lecturer at eta College in Port Elizabeth. This was not easy and some days (or should I say nights) only ended at 9pm when I put head to pillow after a tough session on the indoor trainer or swimming loops in the swimming pool. If there’s one thing I’d love to add to this is that; training through winter is also not for everyone. Waking up in the pitch-black darkness to either put on some running shoes to go for an ‘LSD’ Long Slow distance run or putting on the helmet and cleats to face the freezing cold to do hill repeats on the bike was not easy and believe me when I say this, “Not easy at all!”.
So yes, having limited time on my hands and training through winter was a challenge like no other, but a friend of mine once told me, “Train hard and race day will be easy” – I wish this was 100% true, but it did keep me going until I saw my name on that finisher board and my first few strides on that red carpet.
For my preparations for Durban 70.3, humbly I’d say that I did my best with respect to the conditions and I am extremely proud of myself for achieving a time 12 minutes faster than my desired goal of 5:30:00 .
TIPS FOR ANYONE WANTING TO DO AN IRONMAN 70.3
Whether it be a full Ironman or a sprint distant triathlon I have decided to add in a few tips about this Multisport that I feel is necessary and that I wish I knew before.
Firstly, prepare to spend money. It’s a fact that we all love money but not spending it. Triathlon is a Multisport that requires various needs, as well as wants, to participate or receive a podium finish. The few obvious ones namely are; a pair of goggles, swim cap and swim trunks or if you’re lucky a nice well-fitted wetsuit. A roadworthy bicycle that is hopefully bulletproof to any punctures, and to be even fancier a TT bike with cleats to hopefully get you those Watts you’ve been working so hard for. For the run it’s much more simplified, running shoes and maybe a cap to protect you from the UV rays as the day goes on.
Secondly, Time Management. You need to be a master at being able to manage your time and prep in advance. Training for three disciplines requires hours of your time, whether it being actual time training or making sure your nutrition and bike is ready for a cycle the following day. I encourage everyone to avoid the ‘Tomorrow Syndrome’ for example; “I’ll fill my bottles up in the morning” or “I’ll set up my training kit before we leave” to name a few. The chances of you waking up to leave for that specific training session is slim, as well as leaving something behind is highly possible. My biggest tip to avoid this, is have a checklist especially when it comes to race day preparation and whenever travelling is involved, as it will relieve some unwanted stress and save valuable time.
Lastly, Quality over Quantity. I like to save the best for last, as we all think that we don’t have enough time to train for such a time-consuming sport. Funny enough this is true, but by training in a specific way and utilising the time you do have – anything is possible to be an aspiring Triathlete. Many people will come up to you and brag about them completing 10-20 hours of training in a week and yes, no doubt that’s good, and all fairness to them but, there is luckily alternatives. It’s actually quite simple, think of it this way, if you only have 1 hour available each day to train then total that up and it’s already 7 hours. Now take weekends for example where you get some time off from work and you throw in a long bike and maybe even a specific type of running session. Already you can see that it is possible and that training for quality is more important than training for quantity. But please don’t get me wrong, quantity is extremely beneficial when time is available to you.
When it comes to under-training and over-training it’s an extremely fine line that I believe no one to this day will truly get 100% correct. All I can say is, be patient and listen to your body, when you feel extremely fatigued and lacking the desire to train, take a rest day and come back guns blazing for your next planned session. Identifying your strengths and weaknesses I feel is extremely important as then you’ll properly be able to analyse what needs to be worked on as it is three sports in one.
So, to some it all up, I love triathlon and have given you a brief inside into my journey. If you have any questions for me or needing any advice on Triathlon, nutrition guidelines, training programmes or just wanting to chat with me on a personal basis please feel free to drop me an email as I love imparting knowledge I’ve learned onto other people.