Triathlons & Running

I have had a fairly successful summer of running in which I ran my first marathon (Cardiff: 3:50) and had a 1/2 marathon PB (GNR: 1:37). As well as this I took part in a triathlon and really enjoyed it.
Does anyone have any advice as to whether its possible to combine a winter of training for the FLM (Hopefully I will get in) with training for a summer (post FLM) of taking part in a few olympic distance triathlons (and maybe even a long course event). Will I be able to cross train my way to a better time in the marathon or is the only way to a sub 3:40 marathon a winter of pounding out the miles which would leave me ill-equipped for a tri.
Advice please! Otherwise I will just toss a coin....!


  • You should find that a balanced approach will improve your running.
    Tag a run onto the end of your cycling sessions, and if possible cycle or run to the pool for your swim sessions.
    I have run 2:42 for a marathon in the past, and am still capable of sub 3 hours on only 30 to 40 miles running per week.
    A marathon at the end of an Ironman is another matter however.....

    Good Luck.
  • Stuart

    This is exactly what I will be doing this winter – I am intending to do a spring marathon (hopefully FLM) with a target of sub 4hrs (I’m obviously a bit slower than you), a few Olympic TRIs during the summer (and probably a couple of sprints as a form of speed training) and a Half Ironman distance race towards the end of the season

    I intend keeping my schedule to the usual weekly: - 3 run, 3 swims, 3 bike and 2 gym. My runs are split into 3 core runs: - a tempo, speed and Long and only my long run goes beyond 10 miles – I am starting my long run at 90mins and increasing by 15mins each week which will get me up to 4hrs in about 10 weeks. (time on feet)

    I don’t know if this will work but it is my plan – I start in November with 2 x 4-week base cycles then a build cycle etc

    Good luck and let us know how you get on

  • That sounds like one heck of a training schedule Will. Can I ask you what sort of bike rides you are doing - in terms of time on the bike etc ?

    I would like to go for a tri but my swimming is so far behind my running and cycling (not saying they are much cop just my swimming is sort of doggy paddle) that I think a duathlon is probably more realistic.
    The only problem is with the dark evenings I am finding getting time to fit more than one ride a week in impossible - and when the weather intervenes even one ride is difficult sometimes. Do you ride in the dark or go out early/days?
  • Popsider

    Like you, I find my cycling options limited during the winter – the way I approach it is: -

    I do 2 sessions during the week on either my turbo trainer or the exercise bike at my gym I have quite a few different routines of varying durations for the turbo and I use the programme modes at the gym normally the session range from 40min to 90mins (having a TV to watch is a good idea)

    My 3rd ride is my long ride done at a weekend and normally builds up to 5 hours or so and like my long run, which is all about time on my feet, my long ride is about time on my bike – if the weather is half decent I’ll go out on my road bike, but more often than enough during winter I’ll train on my mountain bike.

    The mountain bike normally means a much slower pace, but the extra weight is good for training and it means that I can get out for a laugh with a few mates (who MTB on the occasion) and just enjoy the ride instead of worrying about training – I normally carry every thing I need in a small rucksack – which again adds some extra training weight.

    Good luck in you training

  • PS

    As far as swimming goes, it is quite easy to build up to being able to cover the distances required. – All you need to do is work on your front crawl technique via drills and alternate this with interval training (70% of swimming is technique)

    Following this sort of approach I’ve progressed from 50m continues front crawl in February to 2500m continues front crawl in 52mins on Friday gone.

  • Thanks Will,

    Your improvement in swimming is very encouraging.
  • Cheers guys, the advice is helpful and much appreciated.

    Will keep you posted during the long winter months!
  • Stuart - hubby and I do distance base in both running and swimming throughout the winter, with mountain biking at weekends, then start triathlon build-up around New Year. We usually do a couple of duathlons in spring, and here in Germany the tri season opens around mid-May. If training for an Ironman, we do most of the distance stuff at weekends (if no races) and speed sessions during the week. And don't forget strength training - we use lightish weights and lots of repetitions. Doing an Ironman schedule, you can get strong enough to carry you through a decent marathon, but if you really want to post a PB, I don't think you can do that and work on tri as well. Good luck - you'll find the more you do the more you can!
  • Following on from what WildWill said about swimming - I couldn't agree more - technique is everything.
    I only learnt front crawl a couple of years ago, and then could barely do 2 lenghts.
    I got some coaching from a friend who's a fairly good swimmer, and now can do the Ironman swim in a tad over 75 mins.
    As Ironwolf said - the more you do the more you can.
    Typically when training for an Ironman I'll do 3 bike sessions a week including one of 6 to 6.5 hours, 3 or 4 swim sessions, 2 gym sessions and 6 runs, with the longest being up to 3 hours.
    Peak training (approx 5 weeks before the event)totals between 18 and 21 hours a week.
    Go for it try a tri ! - you'll not regret it.
  • i'd love to 'try a tri' but can't get going on my bike. swimming is my strongest discipline, my running is improving slowly but i don't seem to like going out on the bike. it's a shame because i really wanted to do some sprint triathlons next summer but i don't know if i can do the distance on my bike - why do they make the bike leg so rediculously long compared to the other two parts?!! anyone know of a 'beginners' schedule for cycling? or any tips for a confirmed non-cycler?
  • You could try mountain biking to start with. This will help you build some cycling fitness without it seeming too much like proper training. MTBs generally have lower gearing meaning you can spin (better for your kness). IMHO it's safer than road cycling.
  • i'm going to go out on my bike this weekend. i generally have saturday off from swimming/running so i'll try to go out on my bike instead just to get used to it! i'll let you know how i progress - but i've got a feeling it will be a long, slow and painfull process!
  • bikeboy,

    As a cyclist who runs could you give an idea of what sort of times for standard distances in cycling equate to a similar standard in running. So if my 10k was say 40 minutes and my half marathon 1.30 what would be the equivalent sort of times for cycling ? I'm just wondering how much work I have to do on my cycling. Thanks
  • Popsider,
    I assume you are talking about triathlon cycling times.
    10k run is part of an olympic distance tri, bike distance = 40k. At 20mph this is 1-14.
    Half M is part of a middle distance tri, bike distance = 80k. At 20mph this is 2-28.
    NB, these aren't winning times, the top guys (and gals) would average somewhere around 25mph - including age groupers, not just the pro's.
  • Thanks, yes triathlon cycling times are what I wanted. So given that my running times are typically about what I gave you I need to get my cycling up to about 20mph to be roughly equivalent in the two disciplines. I wasn't thinking of winning - just entering for run but not wanting to finish after everyone else has gone home.
  • A reasonable club cyclist on a reasonably flat course would post say 25mins on a 10mile tt course, but this is very general. (This is 24mph). 20mph for a 10 is 30mins (stating obvious). Have a look at some tri race results (e.g. to see what others times others are posting.
  • i meant to day entering for fun, not run, i must stop reading running web sites at work.
  • Tis a rule of thumb for estimating your triathlon run time. For olympic distance (1.5k swim, 40k bike, 10k run) your run will take about 10% longer than for a stand alone 10k. For Ironman (3.8k - 180k - 42.2k) then the run will take appx 20% longer.
    Your first tri is likely to be a short distance one, ie 400m - 20k - 5k, so you could expect a run time of about 5-10% longer than your best 5k time.
    If you are thinking about entering a tri then go for it! Race listings can be found on or
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