Many athletes view the upcoming 5150 African Championship as the perfect stepping stone to complete the 70.3 events. Here are some tips to take you from the 5150 event to the 70.3 event next year:
For those that have just completed a few short distance triathlons like the 5150, the thought of stepping up to the longer distances like 70.3 may seem like a daunting task, but honestly, the biggest challenge is just TIME.
To do an event that will last six hours or more, requires a little more than just a couple of long training sessions to see if you can handle the distance (the human body is an amazing thing, and it will handle the distance even when under-trained), but the experience you’ll have on race day probably won’t be the most enjoyable one.
On the swimming side, you don’t need to change anything as 400 extra meters will have minimal impact, and for the average swimmer this will only be an extra 6-8minutes in the water. Most amateurs (and a few Pros that I’ve met in the past) are of a mindset that the swim is the shortest and least important of the disciplines, so they tend to neglect their swimming.
But apart from setting you up for a good race by getting off to a fast start, if you exit the swim already exhausted, in oxygen debt, and already tapping into your mental reserves, the chances of you biking to your full potential is very unlikely, at least for the first 10-20km while you’re recovering from your mammoth swim effort. In order to prepare well for the swim, three to four 2-3km swim sessions per week will be sufficient training to finish the 1.9km swim with plenty of energy to start the bike ride.
The bike is where the biggest changes to your training will come, as this section is more than double of the longest race you’ve done so far, and you’ll also need to consider how and when you’re going to take in your nutrition to get you through 90km of cycling.
You may have gotten through your 5150 consuming only a banana and a bottle of water, but that won’t get you through 3-4hours of cycling, the way to do it is to have three rides between 1 and 2 hours focusing on intensity work like hill repeats and intervals that will help you develop your strength and speed, while lengthening your ride session to 3- 4 hours or even more. This will not only help prepare you mentally for the extra hours you’ll be out there on race day, but obviously also build the endurance that you’ll need, and give you the time to experiment and practice with nutritional options. Try using gels, bars or jellies, and energy drink; most important of all, make sure you’ve practiced your nutritional plan in training and don’t change it on race day….unless things have fallen apart, then something new might just save your day.
Training for the run doesn’t need to differ too much from your shorter distance races either as most of your endurance is gained by the training you do on the bike, with your run shorter, but faster. It’s natural to want to include a longer run in your training, but for a 70.3 it needn’t be longer than 1.5 to 2hours, which most people will recover from quite easily.
Adding a 45min speed/tempo session like intervals or a club time trial, and a hill session during the week should be more than sufficient, however, as you get closer to the event, you may want to start including some brick runs (runs straight after the bike ride), to get the legs used to the demands of running off the bike. You can build these up from as little as 5min, to as much as 1hour.
The most important thing to do this week over and above preparation is to have fun with it, relax and prepare your mind to win, and remember to Never Stop Moving Forward.