My Program Generator Blog
- When I was a first timer by Karen Bartman
August 27, 2018
When I was a First Timer
My friend convinced me that I should take up Triathlon, since I was already cycling and running. I made a decision to start training for triathlon in the March of 2014. I looked up online for free training programs, so that I could go through the motions of training for a triathlon at the gym. Its not the same as having a coach. I haven’t swum since school except the occasional dip in the swimming pool and playing about in the waves at the sea side. That was a long, long, long time ago. Not giving away my age.
My brother is an Ironman a couple of times over, as well as a Tri Coach (living in England), so I asked his advice. He said to me, start out with just two of each discipline per week. “Just Two”, I thought, how am I going to fit this all in. Not to forget my weight training.
One morning I got into the pool, I couldn’t swim 10 lengths it was so tiring. So I thought to myself, build yourself up like running (1min run, 1 min walk and eventually you can run non stop). That’s what I did, I swam one length freestyle, one length breaststroke, until I was able to swim non stop for 20 lengths of free style. I didn’t have a coach at this point, so I’d watched an endless amount of swimming videos to try get some of the technique going (advice get a coach J).
I was already going to spinning classes twice a week, and cycling on the weekend, so the cycling part was the easy part. I have quite a few cycling races under my belt so that wasn’t the hard part of my weekly regime, it was already in the plan.
Running is hard guys, lets face it, but once you are fit enough, it is for me the best out of all the disciplines. I love running. (I ran my first marathon a couple of months back) At this stage I was only running 10K, being my longest run. I eventually built myself up to my first 21K. When you complete that first 21K, you feel like you can take on the world. What an achievement.
At this point I now had my sites set on my first Triathlon. Just a small one, so I can learn what it is all about. I entered 11Global at Sun City, sprint distance in November 2014. I didn’t know how to get everything ready for transition. So I casually walked up to the entrance, was asked to put my helmet on, and show my swim cap, and the officials checked my handlebars. Then I entered transition. I watched what everyone else was doing and followed suite in getting my equipment ready.
I was so nervous, especially for the swim. I was worried I wouldn’t able to swim the whole 750m in one go, or just drown. Another athlete said to me, standing at the water’s edge, don’t worry, swim and if you need to pause just do breaststroke to catch your breath then carry on. Once I was out the water, for me now the race is on, shaking, with nerves, trying to get my cycling shoes on and then my helmet, glasses, gloves (yes gloves), race belt (get a race belt for your number ) and now I was ready. Cycling 20k was easy, this is fun. I came back into transition, took of my shoes, to put on my running shoes, peak and glasses. Got up and started running. Wow, my legs felt wobbly, its only 5k’s, but the legs weren’t having it, so I had to walk a bit and then started running slow until I found my running legs and then was good to go, and suddenly it was over. Running off the bike is not easy. Takes practice. Im still not use to it. But at least I know what is coming. Euphoria. I did it. Me. I completed a Triathlon. Turns out I came 4th that day in my age group, 30 secs from making podium. Okay I can do this. What’s the next race? I went on to do Trinity Sports Olympic Triathlon in the December, in Germiston.
Tri Rock came to Johannesburg. Okay, I’m entering. The race was the following year, February 2015. I have to get myself ready for a 1.9k swim, 90k cycle, and a 21K run. This just got real. If I can do this, then Ill enter Ironman Durban 70.3. So it was longer training sessions. I finished this race. It took me a long time. But I finished it! Amazing feeling to complete a distance like this. You feel like an Ironman J.
The point to this story is to know that everyone starts somewhere. I took my time to the first race so I can build a base, even if it was a little race, but to understand the motions of a Triathlon, and the training, and transition at the race. Start off small and build yourself up. For me, I had to do it in small steps. You don’t want to go big straight away as it may stop you from coming back. But not everyone is the same as me. Your choice. Ive gone on to complete 8 x Half Ironman Distrances, a Marathon and countless half marathons, and trail running. Now on my way to my next Marathon, and an Ultra Marathon next year.
My advice, get a coach, who will give you a program and guidance. Who will be there at your first Triathlon to guide you on what to do in transition, during the race, nutrition, very important, and be there at the end of your race. I joined MPG because I felt I needed more guidance. Ive never looked back. They have loads of expertise to offer, from racing themselves and know most of the courses at these races. But one thing I need to add and most important of all, have fun! That’s why we do this sport right! You will know what I mean when the bug bites.
By Karen Bartmann
- Ironman 70.3 vs Xterra and the uniqueness about MPG training program by Johandri Leicester
July 9, 2018
Ironman 70.3 vs Xterra and the uniqueness about MPG training program
This post is not written from the perspective of a race report but from a comparative view between an Ironman 70.3 and a typical Cross Triathlon race. With this I’ll also share my experience training with MPG and how their unique program will prepare you for any discipline that you want to focus on.
With big hesitation and fear I decided to enter the Ironman 70.3 Durban. Reason: The Ironman 70.3 World Championship will be hosted in South Africa this year. This chance of a life time to compete in one Ironman 70.3 World Championship does not come around often, so I said: “why not try and qualify”.
Before the race everybody kept on telling me that an Ironman 70.3 is much easier than a Xterra and that I would be fine. After now having done both disciplines, I do partially agree with them, but the two disciplines differ a lot and, in my opinion, is two total different sport types (if I can put it like that)
First, I have to start with the complexity of a pre-Ironman 70.3. That was that a lot of thinking and work to get everything sorted for transition. I was flustered, not sure what to pack in what bag, and I was more stressed out that I was forgetting something somewhere. It takes a lot more planning for transition and nutrition. You need to know what you are doing.
With a Xterra, you are more stressed that everything on the mountain bike is ready and waiting, rather than having everything for your transition. With your hydration pack packed, you can just chuck everything together and you are good to go (with your helmet as the number one item on your list off course).
With the Ironman 70.3, I was constantly searching for everything. Getting out of the swim, searching, getting of the bike, searching. If you are tired, and is easily flustered kind of person (like me), the last thing you can remember is you race number. There were a few times that I had to calm myself down to look at the number on my armband and to get my head straight. For the world championships I am definitely going to write my number in big on my hand so that I don’t forget!
The second thing that caught me is when you get on the transition chair and the guy just throws out everything in front of you, and before you can take something, he starts packing everything back again. This was truly a new experience and is something to get used to.
Ironman 70.3 is a solid output from start to finish. You get on the bike, put your head down and just peddle. And yes, as many have told me, it is easier to run of the bike in a Ironman 70.3 distance than a Xterra (so this is true). I also now understand why running of a TT bike is better and that a TT bike definitely will save the quads for the run. As I was on a road bike, with no TT bars, I could definitely feel and understand what so many have told me why doing a Ironman 70.3 on a TT bike is much, much better.
In Ironman 70.3 everything is about pacing and is not so much about high intensity output, with short rests in between. That is what brought me to the point that I made earlier on the “two different sport types”.
With an Xterra you must engage your full body, especially when you’re on the mountain bike. You work hard with your lower body as well as your upper body. You are physically tired when you get of the bike to start the run. The bike is high intensity work out from start to finish, and you must use the terrain to your advantage. Going out too hard on the climb of the bike and you will hit the wall on the run.
The run is also totally different from the Ironman 70.3 distance due to its constant set pace that you have to maintain. This is something that I struggle with because of my nature to tend to go out to fast and paying for it later. Trail running is very different from road running and all the movement comes from your core and some strong ankles. Again, you must use the terrain to your advantage.
In summary, from a high intensity perspective, an Ironman 70.3 is easier than a Xterra. You need to have a lot of endurance (and patience to get through transition). But if you are someone like me that loves speed and doesn’t struggle to constantly have to vary between speed and power, then Xterra is way more fun than an Ironman 70.3.
My Program Generator (MPG) is so unique, in the sense that you don’t need a special program for mountain biking or road biking, and the same with different triathlon disciplines. Whether you are focusing on road triathlon or cross triathlon, you can use the same program.
Most of my training is done on the trails, but the same program is as efficient for someone training on the road. For Ironman 70.3 Durban I didn’t do much training on the road and the nearest thing to getting on a road bike was the Watt bike sessions in the gym.
The program varies between long runs, tempo and high intensity session to give you a well balance workout to prepare you for any type of race. It also focuses on strength training, something that I strongly believe in for any type of triathlete to prevent injuries.
For now, I am prepping for my races in Europe and enjoying being back on the mountain bike. Representing South Africa in the ITU Cross Triathlon World Championship is a dream come true and I can’t wait to be on the start line. Still need some funding for the races so if you know of anyone that can help, please share my blog and the link below:
- Keep on triing by Kerry Ellis-Williams
June 18, 2018
It’s only when we look back, we’re able to see how far we have come. Over the past months of training, I’ve been spending time contemplating and reflecting.
Four years ago, the landscape of my life was very different. I had just completed a five-month resignation period as director at an advertising agency, I was taking anti-depressants every day and sedatives on most to help me cope. Wife to an ever-supportive husband, a mom to two energetic little boys, I had burnt the candle at both ends. Probably inadvertently in the middle too. My Mom-in-Love (she never said law) was battling cancer and a fit, healthy college was also fighting for his life. I realised that there had to be more to life.
So mid-career change, my best friend casually dropped mid conversation that she’d signed up for a triathlon. That year we had both started a HIT program, participated in weekly Park Runs for our cardio sessions and both completed our first half marathons. I thought she was cooking crazy. I had such FOMO the day she raced Bela Bela 5150 that I did what any sane person would do. I signed up for my first triathlon, Ekurhuleni 5150. I had 8 weeks to train, did not own a bike and had not swum a lap of a pool since high school doing synchronized swimming. Buy hey, how hard could this be right?
I downloaded a training program off of the internet and “trained” as best I could. My first cycle to the Cradle of Humankind from Broadacres involved a good friend pushing me up all of the hills and my legs giving up several times. I couldn’t yet eat or drink on the bike and had to pull off for curb side picnics.
Race day arrived and with nervous excitement we were off. Making my way out of the water was a triumph in itself. The bike was the fun part and the run was the home straight. Until I looked at my watch and realised that time was quickly running out. With all the energy I could muster and the best crowd support ever, I finished my first triathlon with 16 seconds left on the clock. But I finished, and the bug had bitten.
So when that crazy guy who got my best friend to do her first triathlon told me about MPG, I knew things were getting serious. I was dedicated and determined and within the first year on MPG my monthly swim, bike and run test results were on an upward trajectory. Despite some setbacks (Tri Tip 1: do not attempt East London 70.3 on a new TT bike you have only ridden twice), my new age group and fortieth birthday was hovering on the horizon. I wanted to achieve something monumental in celebration of life that had been and the promise of what was still to come. They say that you should dream one size too big, IronMan African Championship seemed like a fitting goal.
What better way to lead into your first IronMan race that by a #revengetour to East London 70.3 The problem with our southern hemisphere race calendar is that this is one of the first races of the new year. South Africans usually enjoy a long summer holiday, peppered with braais, beverages and in our fortunate position, a two week long south coast holiday. Great for sea swims and runs, tricky for the bike (which I had missed the cut off for in 2017) Thanks to my trusty Tacx Vortex Smart Trainer and Zwift (Tri Tip 2: invest in both, they are the business. You’re able to upload your race specific bike training from your MPG program to Zwift so you are kept honest) I was able to get up early and get my rides in before the family was up and beach ready.
#revengetour East London 70.3 rolled around and I made my flight, which was already a huge improvement on the previous year. Things were off to a great start! Race weekend always brings the MPG team together and it was wonderful meeting and seeing team mates from around the country at our prerace dinner. With race briefing done, God sent me a sign, a gorgeous rainbow shining over East London. Sunday greeted us with a beautiful sunrise. After a good swim by my standards, it was onto the bike. Beautiful cool, light drizzle surrounded me and I was in my element. Even more so when I handed over my bike in T2 and headed on the run, having taken 34 minutes off of my bike time from the previous year. With Coaches Kino and Kim supporting on the run, team mates handing out high fives as we passed each other, I knew I could do this. I finished my race, collected my medal and collapsed into a heap of joyful tears #revengetour complete.
Now onto the big boy. My first full IronMan. There were times during my training I seriously considered giving up on my dream of starting this race in 2018. I recall March being a particularly dark period, but Coach Jason was always there encouraging and supporting each stroke, pedal and step of the way. I stuck at it with my team mates. Those who train with you in the early mornings, on the hot days, on the windy days, on the days you would rather be in bed; they are your tribe. We stuck to our MPG programs through the 10-week Zombie Zone, into taper week and race weekend.
Port Elizabeth is a hive of energy come the weekend of IronMan African Championships and you can’t help but get swept up in the excitement, although my team mates kept asking why I was so unusually quiet and looked so nervous. Go figure. For me there is something spiritual about standing on the beach, sun rising, singing the national anthem with your friends and team mates. And when tears threatened to start pouring from my eyes, a thumbs up & a mouthed “You’ll be fine” from Coach Sam was all the reassurance I needed.
With the sun rising in the east, I set off into the deep blue yonder for the swim of my life. Surprising myself with a quicker than expected swim, I made my way through T1 ensuring I would be comfortable enough for the upcoming 180km bike ride, a double loop of 90km. During our training rides, the demons of self-doubt had usually visited me at around the 100 – 110km mark. But I had a plan. I had been mentally capturing and saving beautiful EyeMovies of my husband, children and all that was light and bright in the word for such times as this. Imagine my surprise when these demons arrived at the 90km turn around point. Had it not been for Team MPG sitting on the side of the road in support and the thought of all that my family had sacrificed for me to do this race, I would happily have given my bike to the nearest stranger. Head and hammer down, I set off to Seaview for the second time, trying to beat the turn-around cut off time. Ecstatic was not the word when I arrived in Seaview with another 1h20 until the cut off!
Jason had done the maths beforehand. If I could manage an average of 25km/h on the bike, I only had to run 10km of my marathon to finish my race. But it was into a headwind. (Un)fortunately, my bike computer went flat and I was riding back into PE blind. I had no idea what power or speed I was riding at, but I was giving it my all as I saw the sun setting in the west behind Nelson Mandela Bay University.
Quick picnic in transition before heading onto the run. Ironically, although this was the one discipline I could manage when I started triathlon, it has become my weakest as I have focused on trying to get out of the water quicker and make bike cut offs. I had to run more than 10km. Surprisingly, it seemed 180km bike ride was the perfect leg warm up for my first marathon. I had trained a run 8min walk 2min strategy to try and maintain a heart rate in the right zone and it worked like a charm. Coaches Kim & Kino had told me that the crowds would bring me home in Port Elizabeth and boy did they do that! My biggest issue on the first 10km lap was trying to control the overwhelming urge to cry as complete strangers urged and cheered me onto the finish line. I had a PB on the first 21.1km and felt strong running at my pace. I had always said I just needed to finish IronMan (the beauty of a first-time race) but had a secret goal of going sub 16h30. And as I saw a perfect shooting star blaze across the night sky, words cannot describe how I felt when I saw the magic carpet and heard those incredible words, “Kerry, you are an IronMan!” in a time of 16h05. I had done it! And as he had promised some years ago, Coach Jason was at the end of the magic carpet waiting for me.
Two weeks rest. Two weeks recovery. One week sick. One week taper. Not exactly the ideal way to lead into Durban 70.3 but when there is an IronMan Africa Tour Series medal on the table, you suck it up! If you complete 70.3 East London, 140.6 Port Elizabeth and 70.3 Durban in the same year, you earn a Tour medal. In reality though, they happen within (almost) 4 months of each other. I prayed big time going into Durban. I was injury free. I had not yet had a mechanical. I was going for the Tour medal.
I grew up in Durban so love returning to my home town for a race. It was also my first 70.3 race (which swim got cancelled) and is always a great yard stick to measure up to. I was over reliant on a strong base but was going for it any way. My swim was not what I had hoped for and after a 700m transition jog in cleats, I hopped onto my bike in the hopes of making up some time. A quick glance down at my newly replaced bike computer told me we were in for a head wind on the way back. Despite which, I was still 4 minutes faster on my bike than the previous year. Onto the run with the wind still pumping. Although I was still high fiving team mates, it was tough and I was tired. I walked way more than I should have but I kept on moving forwards. Step by step I made my way up to “The valley of death” Blue Lagoon and before I knew it, I had 2km to go. Almost waiting for a stitch or a cramp to set in, I kept at it for the last 2km. And I crossed the finish line in Durban to become a South African IronMan Tour Series medallist.
So how has the landscape of my life changed in the past four years? My husband is as ever supportive and loving and I could not have done this without him. My boys are inspired and are keen to do their first IronKids event. And the anti-depressants and sedatives? They were traded a long time ago for endorphin highs. And I am an IronMan (Tri Tip #3: just do it. If I can, anybody can!)
- Tri it!!! – Ade Meyer
June 11, 2018
don’t need to be the best, but, I want to endeavor being the best version of myself.
Being an average person with a goal makes you extraordinary!
I love having people surrounding me with the same goal the same heart and aspirations as myself. It’s like having your own wolfpack. It makes you stronger and part of something bigger.
Your successes doesn’t quite mean alot without your supporting people who understands you.
Don’t let your excuses be bigger than your try…
- There is enough time
- You are good enough
- You will make it!
And the best of it all? You have got a team behind you!
Thank you MPG
- Cape Town Marathon by Michael Cannon
June 4, 2018
Last Saturday I ran the Cape Town City Marathon, which is definitely one of my favourite marathons on the SA Calendar, as it is a very fast course, but definitely one of the harder ones if you go in over- or undertrained.. This was my third standard marathon, so I don’t have much to compare it to..
Going into the race, I had three goals:
1. Try and go through 21.1km in under 1:20:00
2. Try and better my Marathon PB, which was 2:41:18 (achieved at last year’s Cape Town Marathon)
3. Try and run a negative split, which is when you run your second half of the race quicker than the first)
Those were my goals, but I wasn’t sure how the day would go, as they had changed the route, so I was just going to have to wing it..
The first half of the marathon was good.. The first 10km of the race was quite, going through that marker in 37 min and trying to find a good pack to run in..
A lot of guys had gone out to quickly so up until 21.1km, I was moving from group to group, which actually worked out quite nicely, as I managed to go through the half way mark in 1:18:07 (Goal 1 Achieved)..
I now knew that I had a shot of achieving my next two goals if I could hold my pace, get in enough calories and fluids, all of which I have managed to get waxed though working MPG…
The second half of the race was good.. at 35km, I knew that if I could go sub 2:40 if I could hit my next chunk in a decent pace (anything under 4:00/km)…
Coming into the finish shoot, I was overjoyed to know that I had achieved my goals, had tons of fun and was still able to smile while doing so..
I look forward to setting new goals, testing my ability and continue growing as an MPG athlete..
For those that are interested, have a look at my Strava file, which shows all the details of race day:
- When I was a first timer by Karen Bartman August 27, 2018
- Ironman 70.3 vs Xterra and the uniqueness about MPG training program by Johandri Leicester July 9, 2018
- Keep on triing by Kerry Ellis-Williams June 18, 2018
- Tri it!!! – Ade Meyer June 11, 2018
- Cape Town Marathon by Michael Cannon June 4, 2018
- Going the distance. Fun runs to Ultra Marathons in 12 Months by Bernadette da Silva on
- Going the distance. Fun runs to Ultra Marathons in 12 Months by Bernadette da Silva on
- MPG Sponsored Marathon Runner in Lesotho by Bokaako Augostines on
- MPG Sponsored Marathon Runner in Lesotho by Bokaako Augostines on
- The Journey of a Newbie Triathlete on