Crosstraining for a Marathon

I'm about to start training for my first marathon (Snowdonia in October).  However, I am constantly hampered by injuries.  I have recently discovered a liking for cycling during a recent calf injury which appears to have kept my fitness level up enough during a temporary running abstinence.  So, I'm planning a three run a week training schedule....but was wondering how much I could reduce the running mileage and increase the cycling to avoid injury but ensure I arrive at the start point capable of reaching the finish....if that makes sense.

This has to be one of the most sensible discussions I've started to date and I eagerly await my running comrades pearls of wisdom/advice/experience.



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    Should you be thinking about running a marathon when you clearly have an injury problem?

    You dont say what level you are at, are you running half marathons, 10K already, What time do you want to complete the marathon in?

    Its all about the build up so you need to increase the foot on pavement mileage week on week up to 20 miles most would say more.

    Cycling will give you endurance and cardio so its great XT

    But you have to put those runing miles in.

    Good luck whatever you decide to do! image

  • Snowdon is not going to be easy and unless you can do a pile of long runs, and some of them on nasty terrain you will almost certainly end up walking. Cycling may well help, but there is no substitute, esp for a run like this, to running.

    What injuries are you having ? What have you run before ?
  • Cycling muscles are pretty different from running muscles - but I think they may help you a bit with running uphill.

    I wouldnt like to do Snowdon without plenty of miles in my legs though.
  • Ahhh....suppose I should be a bit more explicit.  I have been running for years but seriously for about the last four.  My first year of running included a hip injury, knee problems and usual shin splints.  I only run about 30 miles a week but have completed many 10k, 10 miles and 1/2 maras etc.  I'm no speedy pants and my best times are 48 min, 1hr 20 and 1hr 51 respectively.

    I managed the last year and a half without much injury until I upped the mileage to take part in the Meon Valley plod which is a fairly strenous 20+ mile cross country with some pretty nasty hills (Butser Hill included....twice).  However, since then I have developed Plantar Fasciitis and a calf strain which has taken me a month to recover from....the PF still a little tender at times.

    I realise I will need to do my long runs and I thoroughly enjoy the running so am happy to do this.  But, I am worried about being injured again and know how gutted I would be if injury caused me to pull out.  So my question really was..should I adapt my training plan to include more cycling and less running?

    I'm not planning on getting around Snowdon in a wowsie time as it's my first mara I have no pb to beat, I just want to finish it.


  • FF - you'll be fine, honest!!   I ran Snowdon in 4:30 on two club runs (around 7 miles each) and one long weekend run a week, very loosely following the RW sub-4:30 schedule.   It's all the training I can realistically manage with work, kids, life and everything and also got me round Windermere last year in 4:22.    

    I also believe that as I use running as a release from work/life stress etc, if my running becomes the source of more stress, what's the point?   Just go by what feels right for you - your body will soon let you know if you're overdoing it!!

    Good luck!

  • Thanks SD! 

    I'm afraid I really lose confidence when I get an injury.  I suppose four consecutive races wasn't a good idea throughout March, but I'd gone 18 months without an injury and was feeling over it!!! 

    .....Think I'm gonna replace a long run every other week with 2-3 hours cycling.

  • And cycle up some nasty hills I reckon.
  • There are a few interesting hills around my way....some steeper than others... 

    Hopefully see you at the start line SD without any braces or bandages image

  • Tracey GTracey G ✭✭✭
    Fat Fyes - You are not slow in my books. I found this year training for FLM that I would repeat the same distance long run until it felt comfortable and easy, then I would increase it by another mile. Just make sure your legs feel ok before doing another run. Good luck with your first marathon and if you enjoy marathons come and join us nutty runners at Beachy image
  • Hiya Tracey!

    I think I've decided to do a long run one week and substitute it for a long bike ride the next. Apparently (according to a knowledgeable person)...1 mile of running is equivalent to 3 miles cycling.  So a 50-60 mile bike ride every other week is my plan right now.....I shall let you all know how I get on.

    Just been for my first open water swim, which was fab, so may be including a bit more of that in the future too...

  • Tracey GTracey G ✭✭✭
    Fat Fyes - you is brave doing open water swimming image
  • Nice to see i'm not alone, had a couple of injuries from doing too much too soon this year and want to do Dublin in october following FLM this year, just trying to take it easy at the moment with a dodgy calf and follow my physio's advice to the letter to ensure i have strong - well everything really - own stupid fault but I know what you mean about not wanting to have to pull out!

    Good luck with it

  • Tracey....bliddin Jelly Fish....loads of them....I mean not just one or two I mean twenty or thirty of the little blighters and you just have to swim right through them.  But the wet suit gives you some protection, loads of buoyancy and it's also very flattering to the female figure!! I look hot in a wetsuit image lol!

    JW run....I'm being very gentle with my runs.  I'm keep to a 9.15-9.45 min mile pace which is a lot slower than I'm used to.  I've also entered a triathlon in August which I'm hoping will force me to keep cross training and give me a better all round fitness/strength.  I reckon its doable and don't plan on taking my weekly running mileage above 35 for my marathon....obviously if it all goes belly up and Snowdon is a shambles I will be very quiet about it...but if it works I'll let you know!

  • Well...thought I'd update this thread as Snowdon looms! 

    So far I'm sticking to three runs a week.  My long runs are up to 22 miles but my weekly mileage rarely exceeds 30 miles.  I'm swimming 1-2k once a week and cycling around 30-50 miles a week (mostly just 30!)  I've done two sprint triathlons to help keep my x training focused and am enjoying them loads.....especially the open water events.

    So I'm not injured! and my 22 miler today felt wall hit at any point and pretty sure I could've easily managed another 2 miles....  However, I'm avoiding hills like the plague image

    Feeliing quite confident so far and may even get around under 5 hours.....

  • Woop woop.....4.25 and made it around Snowdon on minimal running...a little cycling and swimming...and no injuries stop...Half iron man next year followed by an ultra image

  • FF......Well done you!! That's a brilliant time for Snowdon.

    It is also very encouraging to see what is achievable on less running and more cross-training. My feeling has also been very much that if I up my running time too much the injury niggles start. I also currently do 30 miles per week with my long runs currently around 13-15 miles. These will go up in the run up to Brighton Mara in April. But I am very wary of running too many days a week. I just have this inner feeling about my running that if I add too many days running that the injury chances increase and that adding swimming or cycling may just be my answer. Thanx

  • Hi 2btiny! Thanks...I'm very chuffed image

    I trained with Shade's 3 run a week programme, which has an optional 4th, but rarely did it.  When my long runs got to 20, my two short runs went down to 4-5 and my weekly mileage hardly went above 30.  I cycled to work and back one day a week (25 miles round trip), swam once a week (around 1-2km) and give or take an additional bike ride...that was it.  Got to the line injury free... left knee hurt a bit on the nasty descent at mile 24-25....but otherwise still fighting fit.

    Good luck with Brighton.  I have a Toughguy in Jan, London in April and a half iron man now booked for September....with the possibility of an Ultra next December image

  • I have just finished a night shift and fear I may have just repeated myself....lots.... but wasn't actually expecting anyone to pay any attention to this thread! lol!
  • FF.....Thanx for putting in the detail of your training....much appreciated.

    I currently also only run 3 days a week with an occassional 4th day. Pre-summer holiday had been doing one day a week swimming doing 1-1 1/2 hours in the pool and swimming 2-2.5kms. I am planning to get back to the swimming routine as soon as able to motivate myself!! Cold mornings are a real issue! I had also been doing one cycle per week but only about 8-10miles.

    As said previously, I run 30miles a week currently but know I will need to step this up for marathon training. However, I do feel niggles in the knees when I run too many days in a week. Even if the mileage stays the same, adding a 4th day and taking away a rest day seems to affect them??? This is why I am seriously considering adding the swimming and cycling back into the routine and why your post was so encouraging. 

  • image Well done FF!

    I did a sub 4 marathon on a similar regime

  • It's the way forward I tell ya! lol!
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