Marathon Training and Cycling

Greetings All!

I find that when I am only training for running events, I miss cycling and get hurt. I also find that when I am cycling only, I miss running. I want to be great at both. In searching the forum, this has been addressed to some degree before, such as: and

When well trained, I can run at a fairly decent level (~16:30 5k, 3-hour marathon, although that is soft) and want to continue to run fast and improve. I can also attain a fairly high FTP (336 watts, around 4.5 w/kg) again, with room to grow.

I want to do both. Does anyone have successful experience training both the run and the bike at a high level (I am thinking triathletes may be the masters of this), and how did you do it? Currently, I’m finishing SSBMV2 and was planning to go into General Build Mid-Volume. Could this be as simple as switching to General Build Low-Volume and supplementing the off days with running workouts 3 days per week and taking one day per week off? Am I just dreaming and do I need to choose only one area to perform well in?

I’m getting older (38 years old) but still choose to believe that my fastest years both running and on the bike are still ahead of me.

Help me live the dream!


You want separate events? Or do you want to look at duathlons? Or do you just want to supplement one training with the other discipline? Basically, what’s the end goal ? :slight_smile:

The end goal is to be a beast on the bike and running! :slight_smile: In all seriousness, there are no specific A events right now for either discipline. I’d like to qualify for Boston again, but I also want to rip people’s legs off on the bike in some local racing.

I am not currently planning any multisport events, but then again, if I can ride and run, I might be able to manage to not drown on a swim.

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well duathlons, run bike run are run alongside multisport but don’t require a swim and you find pretty serious competitors in there that’s why i was asking, might be something to consider!
What you could do is take the tri plans and sub the swims with a run or a bike (there are 2 swims per week).
If its a threshold swim, get something similar on the bike
If its an easy swim, get a similar runs

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Watching this thread for sure. I’m 38 and I want to be good at both disciplines too.

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Thank you for the suggestion! Looking around, it doesn’t seem that there is a very strong Duathlon presence near Cleveland, OH. It does look like on the Elite level that those folks are smoking fast. I have considered and will keep looking at the triathlon plans. Thanks again!

I have been alternating between the two sports the last few years. 2018 early I tried for my first half ironman so I was doing both sports till April and finished the HIM. Then went back to my passion of mountain biking. Bike got stolen In September so I switched back to only running for a BQ in September 2018. From there I ran around 45-50 miles a week till the end of February and BQed with a 2:55. Then I dropped running to go back to mountain biking with a new bike, with the aim of leadville. With 6 weeks of bike training I qualified at the austin rattler, and continued till August and finished leadville in 8:33.

Now I’m back to marathon training for Boston because my mountain bike is in the shop for warranty repairs (been like 3-4 weeks). :joy:.

At some point I would like to do a full ironman and qualify for kona, and I also want to do the BC bike race. Giving my A races a big break between them lets me switch up and build up pretty easily. I’m 38 as well, ftp on the bike is 325, 165lbs.

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Long reply below, didn’t start out that way but kept growing… Prioritising either running or cycling workouts depending on what your focus is at that time will be valuable. If you’re feeling burst, skip the non-focus and take more recovery.

Could be worth having a look at Run Less, Run Faster I have been using the 10k plan to get some speed back into my legs following three years doing long course triathlon. I have been combining the three runs (track repeats/tempo/long run) with TR workouts/outdoor rides and swimming twice a week following the arrival of our first child. I have found the hardest rides I can do is sweet spot as any VO2 max rides left me absolutely fried. LV SSB would a good starting point, maybe moving up to MV SSB if you could handle it.

The plans are based off your current 5k time, so scale accordingly. All the runs on the 5k and 10k programme are pretty stout, but the long run on half marathon and marathon plans are less so and have a bit more of a volume emphasis. None of the runs are remotely innovative but they’re effective and for me there’s a huge appeal in ‘show up and do it’ rather than trying to figure what I’m doing three times a week. Someone of your standard might be able to add in bit more volume but part of the appeal for me is that I have a recurring calf issue that I’ve not been able to sort with physiotherapy so overdoing volume leaves me unable to run.

Planning to use marathon plan for Manchester Marathon in April 2020 and finally go sub 3…

My current week (provided I’m not too tired with baby stuff) looks like:
M: Recovery Ride/Rest
T: AM: Swim, Lunch: Track Repeats
W: TR Workout + Kettlebell OR Cycle Commute
T: AM: Swim, Lunch: Tempo Run
F: TR Workout + Kettlebell OR Cycle Commute
S: Long Run
S: TR Workout or Longer Ride

For reference, I have PBs of 17:58, 37:20, 1:22:30 and 3:04:57 for 5k, 10k, HM and M, and 3:35 in an Ironman. So not as fast as you but not off the couch either!


I added the book reference to our main book thread. Thanks for the link.

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I don’t see why you can’t excel at both disciplines. Two years ago before I was diagnosed with arthritis and cartilege in my right knee I set out to hit a Boston Qualifying time. My friend and I fused several different plans and philosophies together and made our own 3 times a week training plan focusing on quality miles and speedwork over quantity of running miles. On my non running days I cycled. We surpassed our qualifying time by 7 minutes and I as if I remained strong on the bike as well. I wouldn’t say I was training super hard on the bike at the time but I also did not lose any cycling fitness.

Now that I have found trainer road it would be interesting to combine run training with a low volume TR plan.

Good luck in your training!


Matt Dixon of PurplePatch had this situation discussed in a fairly recent podcast. His wife wanted to do a marathon but kept getting injured. This time, he had her cycling as well to build more fitness without the ground impact on the body. Worth a listen. You can do both. I bike 3x a week and run 3x a week. Try to do both on the same day so the recovery day is where I can recover.


I use TR for my bike, but for my run I use an adaption of 80/20… this seems to limit my injury potential

I identify with this thread. I love cycling AND running but can not make them coexist in my life. I’m not interested in doing Tris or being a steady state athlete. I enjoy fixed crits on the bike and half/full marathoning on foot. Very different needs and hard to train them together. On top of that I’m in my mid 40s…so that adds another layer (I’m finding myself more competitive in my age group running than I first figured I would be).

Currently I’m in full running mode. I haven’t been on the bike since July. Winter base is taking on a completely different form for me this year. last year I did 100% on the trainer in TR (Oct-Feb)… but this year I’ll be doing it on foot, outside.

Now that my running races are done for the year and I have a few months unstructured time before I need to get into a plan for racing again… I’m going to try to get out on the bike 1-2 days a week, replacing one easy/recovery run and possibly on a cross-train day (weather permitting here in NYC). I’m curious what my hard fought run fitness can get me on the bike right now. I’m even curious to revise some of my favorite TR workouts from MVB1&2 and see where I stand now.

Watching this thread for sure.

I’m not in the same league as you, but they can definitely coexist. I’m heavy (100kg) so il never be great compared to others, but I’ve always wanted to be a good version of myself.

I injured my Achilles after a local half marathon (annoyingly 2hr00min 11sec, the 11sec pissed me off!) no running for 3 months, then phased it back very slowly (5-10k a week for a few months) to a max of 30km before taper). Bike was 6-7 hrs a week, mainly TR sweetspot, some commuting fairly consistently. Took almost 10mins off my pb, I can almost only attribute it to cycling. It was “easier” too, according to heartrate/RPE too

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This is great! Thank you for sharing all of this. That gives me a lot to digest.

I like the Run Less Run Faster idea coupled with a low volume TR plan. The mention of pacing workouts gets me thinking of another question. FTP makes training intensities for cycling fairly easy to understand. What are similar run metrics? I’m guessing race paces might be the best we can get for running.

Interesting thread as this kinda replicates my thinking/desires.

I’ve been rotating cycling with running over the last 5 years or so, normally focusing on one or the other for 6 to 9 months at a time then switching back.

I took the FTP ramp test yesterday, re-signed up my TR account, and bought a new smart trainer in preparation for the cycling block. (Underestimated my FTP by 35 and ended up doing a seemingly endless ramp test).

I’m planning on doing low volume SSB and continuing to run 3 times a week. Having come of a 34 minute 10km and 2:50 marathon this year I’m hoping to keep things ticking over whilst pushing my cycling to an equivalent level.

Regarding FTP and run times then same principle of around an hour max effort seems reasonable so lightly slower than 10km pace and slightly quicker than HM pace for most folks.

I’m also interested in this. My thinking is that I want to run a fast marathon in spring, but in summer I’d like to be fit for cycling.

At the moment I am running 4 days per week and doing 2 sweet spot trainer sessions. As I am building my run mileage, the next step is 5 days of running + 2 trainer sessions.

I will try to keep the 2 sweet spot sessions until the last few weeks before the marathon. I guess I will start doing some short bricks, and also start running in the morning of the biking days, to maximise my running whilst still having some biking in my legs.

Does that sound reasonable? I think a couple of hours of sweet spot means I won’t start biking in Spring from zero, and it is also a bit of cross training for the marathon.

If that mix of 7 sessions a week is manageable from a fatigue standpoint then I’d imagine that could work well.

I’ve always found that marathon training gives me the ability to jump in to 2 to 3 hour rides and not embarrass myself too much providing I don’t burn too many matches. Going into the red and recovering is very limited off a running base. IME

The question on how to “excel” in both, cycling and running, is also big unknown for me. I’m not into Duathlon or Triathlon, hence, circumstances are different.

I’ve always been into running though cycling is my “life”. Depending on life circumstances running fills easily the endurance addiction void. Therefore, it is important to keep it up. Nothing worse than getting back into running shape. Especially, when you have the lungs from cycling but your motion apparatus is couch potato like.

In the past I would run almost nothing during cycling race season. And do more in autumn/winter. Trail running! However, it would always take a long time to build up mileage. And running long is really what interests me.

Furthermore, at 45 and no real age group rankings here, it gets tougher. At some point racing will not really make sense anymore. Therefore, my “internal deal” is: will race until 50 and then I switch to something where I don’t compete against others but only against myself. Ultrarunning offers the perfect stage for this.

I also want to take it very slow to this level, build my resilience very slowly. I don’t want to make the standard mistake when focusing more on running. I consider this as a multi year “project”.

Therefore, as a first step, I did not stop running entirely after last winter. I tried to get in a run at least every 10days. I would do more when on business trips. The legs should not forget how to run.

After my first A race in July I tried to run more. More FREQUENTLY. But still SLOW. Instead of extending my long run I try to run more frequently. This seems to be the recommended approach for building resilience. And I must admit, compared to the last years, this approach seems better for me.

Now in my cycling off season I run even more. Some moderate intensity but only uphill. I want to avoid any extras stress on my motion apparatus. It’s already stressful enough.

My mid-term goal is that I will abandon my second A-cycling-race. This was too close to my first anyway (both events in the 8-12h duration region). Instead I target a shorter local ultrarunning event in late summer (and a short cycling race a few weeks earlier). Will be interesting to see how this works out.

For now it’s all about frequency and resilience building. I even do ankle strengthening exercises.

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You’ll want to be careful with that. It’s basically saying six hard sessions per week, no easy sessions, I don’t think any school of thought on coaching recommends that.

If I’m getting a lot of intensity in bike (eg a tr plan) then I’ll take the intensity out of the bike, and vice versa.