Triathlon at BCC

Triathlon is a multi-discipline sport consisting of swimming, cycling and running, and is a great sport to keep active. Plus, by taking on the three disciplines, you can keep training fun and varied too!
Triathlon is a growing sport in South Africa with more events being scheduled each year in all 4 categories

Category Swim Bike Run Total Distance
Sprint 600m 20km 5km 25.6km
750m 25.75km
Standard 1.5km 40km 10km 51.5km
Ultra/70.3 1.9km 90km 21.1km 113km
(Half Ironman distance)
Ironman 3.8km 180km 42.2km 226km


About Triathlon South Africa

Triathlon South Africa (TSA) is the sport governing body for the sport of triathlon in South Africa. It is responsible for the management of sports such as duathlon, aquathlon and triathlon within South Africa. It is affiliated with the World Triathlon and the Africa Triathlon.

Why get a TSA license? TSA athletes with TSA licenses will not be charged day license fees at TSA sanctioned events. These sanctioned events meet TSA standards including insurance cover while racing.

The challenge of triathlons

The attraction of triathlons is the challenge of having to do all three disciplines one after the other. But the real challenge is training for all three and the biggest challenge in that is to be disciplined in your training routine. That means having to train more than once on some days and thus having to find what works best for you for mornings and evenings. For example our running section schedules 6 sessions a week but as triathletes we only run 3-4 times a week. But you will always find at least 1 triathlete on any of the 6 running sessions. Similarly with swimming you can expect to see one of us in the pool on any morning or evening at Bedfordview Virgin Active.


Discipline #1

The swim is the shortest event in any triathlon. Both in distance and time. Yet it is often seen as the most challenging. Probably because swimming does not come naturally to most of us and then also on event day the water temperature and conditions can vary especially at the coast. But if you have done the training you set out to do you will find race day can be successfully completed by simply sticking to your own comfortable stroke and pace

For an event the swim will take place in either a swimming pool or open water such as a lake, river or sea, and if you are taking part in an open water event you will need a wetsuit.On race day, the swim start will be in waves, with groupings based on your predicted swim time or age.

As a club most of us do most of our swim training at Bedfordview Virgin Active.

Training for the swim requires 3 pool sessions during the week plus for ultras/70.3 and Ironman an open water swim on the weekend.

How much?  For events less than Ironman you ideally need to have completed a few non-stop swims of the event distance. For Ironman you need to have completed a few 3-4km


Discipline #2

The bike is the longest in a triathlon both in distance and time. But it is not the most physically demanding. However hard you do ride you always need to keep something back for the run. Freewheel down some hills, go one gear easier up the hard hills and finish the ride feeling like you’ve ridden fast but still feel strong.

Most of the triathletes will ride with a group of triathletes, cyclists or join a cycling club. We do a large portion of our long distance rides at the Cradle or with a club.

There are a number of BCC members who are members of Edenglen Cycling Club which is a cycling club based in Edenglen, East of Johannesburg – weekend rides commence from the Malagueta Mediterranean Family Restaurant in Eastleigh. They cater for road cyclists and mountain Bikers. They have members at all levels of cyclist, and they organise weekend club rides on Saturday’s and Sundays. In Spring and Summer, the rides start 06:00 and Autumn and Winter, the rides start 06:30. You can apply for membership online on their website

Training for the bike requires the weekend ride and 1 or 2 other sessions during the week at a spinning class, indoor trainer or mid-week ride.

How much?  Our weekend rides are a minimum of 50km which is good for the sprint and standard triathlons. For the ultras you need to do a couple of 90-100km rides and for Ironman a few 120-140km rides.

Helmets are compulsory for all races. A bike is an essential bit of kit, but as long as it’s been serviced and is roadworthy you can use it. Most races are on roads open to other traffic. If you’re nervous or new to cycling, it would be useful to practise riding your bike on quiet roads until you have built up your confidence.

A bike route on your race will be signposted and have officials to help direct you. However, it’s always useful to check the events information to check the route before the race.


Discipline #3

The run is the hardest part of the triathlon and where the most time can be lost. But only if you don’t give it the training focus it requires. Your running training and fitness will benefit you on the bike and even in the pool but not vice versa unfortunately. Getting into the run after the bike is always an uncomfortable process but the better prepared you are the quicker your stride becomes comfortable and with it your ability to increase your pace in the last quarter!

Shoes are the most important part of your running equipment and its worth making sure your shoes fit, is the correct shoe for your running style and are comfortable.

If you need to improve on your running our morning sessions and weekly training schedule will help tremendously.Run with the group that best matches your ability and preference.

Training for the run requires 2 sessions a week plus for ultras and Ironman the Saturday or Sunday club run. A “brick run” of 20 minutes working towards a 5km after a Saturday or Sunday ride is also recommended.

How much?  For events less than Ironman you should have run the distance at least once before the event. For Ironman you must be able to run 14km without stopping (easy BCC does that every Saturday). You also need to have run some 21km to 28km distances.


Discipline #4

This is often called the fourth discipline in triathlon for those at the top of the sport. However, for many people, transition is simply where all your swim-to-bike and bike-to-run kit is kept during the race. You’ll be given a race number which you’ll need to wear on the bike and run, and sometimes a timing chip to time you from start to finish. You’ll need to rack your bike and layout your kit before the race starts.

Your helmet must be in pristine condition. Your helmet is usually checked by race officials before you rack your bike. After the swim, your helmet must be fastened before you move your bike and cannot be removed until the bike is racked again. Marshals and an official will be in transition and can answer any questions you might have.

Strength and conditioning

Discipline #5

Successful triathlon training should include strength and conditioning workouts. It helps improve muscular endurance to help prepare the body for the demands of training and racing. These essential exercises should include exercises for strength, core stability and flexibility.

How much? Plan on 2 sessions per week.

Bringing it all together

Bringing it all together into a weekly training schedule for four of the disciplines.

We typically structure our training week along the principles of:

  • Alternating run days and bike days to aid recovery and help avoid injuries.
  • Swim training is then done as a second session of the day but ideally not on consecutive days.

Rest.   Monday is a rest day. Do not underestimate the value of this rest day in your overall plans and training schedule.

Run.   Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings are the Run days. Use Saturday as the “long slow run” and the other days as “quality” for one and “easy” for the other.

Bike.   Wednesday, Friday and Sunday mornings are Bike days. Use Sunday as the “long slow ride” and the other days as “hard” for one and “steady tempo” for the other.

Swim.  Tuesday, Thursday evenings and Saturday afternoon. Use Saturday as the event distance/open water swim and “drill training” on the other days.

Strength and conditioning.  To fit in on your easy day of training.

Finally … the key to enjoyment and success in this sport is simply to Tri, Tri and Tri again.