Running a Marathon before Ironman. Good or Bad Idea?

marathonFor a lot of people who are training for Ironman, they often have additional goals throughout the season such as completing a marathon or other events during their training schedule. A good Ironman training plan should build over months leading up to the a few weeks before the race. Often the running base of an Ironman schedule is not sufficient to complete an early season Marathon. That leads to many triathletes increasing their running mileage early in the Ironman training plan.

The first thing to keep in mind is that your A-race is Ironman. Ironman should be the most important thing, you don’t want to lose focus of your end goal but if you still want to complete or even PR in other events throughout your training you need to keep some things in mind:

  • RECOVERY: “The most important thing to remember is to give your body enough time to recover. Even if you feel like you have very little to no muscle soreness left, there are micro-tears in the muscle tissue that need time to heal. In fact, muscle damage from marathon running can last up to two weeks according to research. In addition, it takes up to 72 hours for your immune system to return to normal after a marathon. If you start back too early with long or overly intense workouts, you are more likely to get injured or sick from a lack of healing and restorative time.”
  • BENEFIT: Running a fast marathon does not necessary mean you will run a fast Ironman marathon (If you’ve never run 26.2 miles before doing a marathon may help with the mental issues, especially if you just run it slow and easy.) Your pace in an Ironman run will be very slow by your marathon racing standards. The training to race a marathon would be greatly different also. That is not the way you train for an Ironman run -Joe Friel
  • ADAPTATION: At times you might have to decrease your biking or swimming mileage to account for the increase in running. Don’t take too much time/focus off of biking. It is important to maintain a consistent schedule. If you see a detrimental effect on your biking, maybe its time to re-asses your goals
  • BALANCE: Remember, training for your events should be fun. You don’t want to add too much on your plate. Its already tough enough to balance school, work, family and your training. Make sure you have the time and mental toughness to add to that.

At the end of the day, the question you need to ask yourself is: Is this going to effect my ability to properly train for the Ironman? If the answer is yes, then don’t do it. If its no, then be careful and listen to your body.

My training: Week 17. Exciting news this week. I now have my very own Triathlon Coach, Jackie Arendt. Jackie is a Pro Triathlete from the Madison area who has a lot of experience with Ironman Distance races. I will be starting my coaching with her beginning May 1st. I’m excited to get a more personalized coaching experience than what I’ve been doing. I’m still planning on incorporating my group rides/workouts from the Endurance House Training Team into my regime. Having a coach will allow me to do personalized workouts that are tailored to my goals and recovery time.

Week totals: 12 hours

  • Swimming: .75  hours (missed 2 workouts)
  • Biking: 8.5 hours
  • Running: 2.25 hours
  • Core: 1 hr

Week 16 –


Pancakes, Eggs & Chocolate Milk!

Tuesday:  45 minute run. 1.5 hr bike ride (26 miles) + Core

Wednesday: 45 minute swim. 1 hour run + Core

Thursday: 1.75 hour bike ride + Core

Friday: Unplanned day off (S@%# happens)

Saturday: 3.25 hour bike, 30 minute brick run

Sunday: 2 hour Group ride followed by Pancakes, Eggs & Chocolate milk

Favorite workout of the week: Saturday I did a 63 mile bike ride followed by a 30 minute run. It was so nice out finally.

Least favorite workout of the week: Swimming. I missed two swim workouts last week.

Advice of the week: If you want something. Go get it. Don’t settle for anything less.

Thing I’m looking forward to next week: New coach!

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