Sub3 hour marathon and grand fondo plan

I’m planning on targeting two events this spring: the first being the Flanders sportive at the end of March (242km) and then wanting to run a sub3 hour marathon about a month later. I’m going to need to train for the Flanders sportive because since I stopped cycling I’ve lost a lot of bike specific fitness, however I’m of course going to need to train pretty hard for the sub3 marathon. I’ve got quite a long time to prepare, but how should I structure my training to prepare for these two goals? Any thoughts and advice would be greatly appreciated.

Background: I took up running a couple of years ago as a replacement for cycling (don’t ask!) and did my first marathon this spring. I did almost all my training running and just a gentle recovery spin on the bike each week. My peak week was 90km of running and managed to run a 3:11 on the day. I’ve not done any specific bike training for many years, but am a “lifetime cyclist” and have trained consistently in the past (current FTP ~260 down from ~340 at its peak).

In this case, the Full Ironman plan might just work for you. Just delete all the swim workouts.

You might also get the Half Ironman plan to work if you don’t need the bike workouts to be quite so long. In that case, you’ll either use your own marathon plan or just increase the distance for the long runs.

This has been my only criticism of TrainerRoad. If you fit into the niche of a crit racer or a Gran Fondo participant, TrainerRoad works great, but if you have interests that span different sports or different riding styles, the plans don’t know what to do. In TrainerRoad’s defense though, that would be almost impossible to get right so you either need an external coach or you have to cobble together something that kinda “works” as best you can make it.

I’m not a runner in the slightest bit, but just did my first 10k with a goal of under an hour, which I achieved… but holy crap!… sub 3 hour marathon!!? That’s absolute banana land to me! Good luck!

I did this this spring, sort of. A goal Half Marathon and a gran fondo 3 weeks apart. The HM is complete and went pretty well time wise, and the fondo is this weekend. For the most part, I focused on running and hope to get through the fondo largely on the back of a weekly long ride and occasional short mid week sweet spot session.

One thing I can say is I definitely hurt my performance in both events, but you probably understand that. In your situation, I would focus on the marathon and ride when you can manage to work it around your running. I would also cut out most cycling 2 weeks out from your cycling event and spend what time you have left pre marathon taper on your final marathon prep.

How much time do you have to dedicate to training? The full IM plan (minus the swims) would be a good option.

If I was you I’d do just enough to make it through your Fondo ok and focus your time and energy on run training. Sub-3 is a big challenge for most people

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I have a very similar story and abilities to you.
Personally I’d completely focus on the marathon and just wing it on the fondo.

Thank you for all the comments and advice!

Yes, I think the plan will be to focus mainly on the marathon. My issue and a lingering doubt is that I’m not very “bike fit” at the moment, so need to dedicate some time to getting stronger there too. The Full IM seems like a good option, and drop bike sessions when necessary.

Maybe the best strategy is to dedicate the next few months to mostly bike focused work, with less focus on the runs to set myself up for the mix of both in the winter.