Training for a stand alone marathon while doing the mid volume 70.3 plan?

I am signed up for the Ironman 70.3 Muskoka in July of 2020 and toying with the idea of doing a stand alone marathon in May of 2020. I will be starting the 70.3 plan (likely mid volume) January after some sweet spot or traditional base in November. I will also be swimming twice a week during this whole period.

Does anyone have any experience trying to balance all this training? Is this possible? Is it too much?

I did the 70.3 last year (sadly not using TR) but have never done a stand alone marathon so the volume will be a bit higher


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Yea it’s not a bad idea. I did a marathon end of April and 70.3 end of July. Basically I just replaced the long runs with progressively longer runs and added another easy run here and there. The marathon ended up being the worst race of my life, but only because life and work interfered heavily with the final 5 weeks of training. Until then I even had a (very) remote chance at a BQ.

So yea, go ahead. The volume will come in handy later in the season. I’d just recommend to stay well within yourself on the marathon and not race but just run the event. If you go hard on the Mary you will probably lose 2-3 weeks of quality training while you recover.

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Certainly not too much, but does require sensible balancing of goals and prioritisation. If you want to give the marathon your best shot then your 70.3 training will certainly be compromised - the volume needed to put in a good marathon is going to really impact quality on the bike (not so much the swim), plus a good marathon means 2-3 weeks tapering and at least a week to recover, right at the time when you should be building for the 70.3.

On the other hand if the 70.3 is the A race then that means running a marathon with minimal taper, racing within yourself (if that’s even something you can judge in your first marathon!) and still taking a bit of a risk of injury. A standalone marathon is tough. Tougher than a 70.3 in my view. Very easy to get it wrong. I did my first standalone marathon having already done a couple of Ironmans so thought I’d be fine. Got through it but totally underestimated how hard it would be running just ~30-40 seconds/mile faster than IM pace, both in terms of the race itself and the time needed to recover afterwards.

Do you want to win the marathon or the 70.3?

I WANT to win both, but there is no chance that is happening :rofl:

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If it’s the marathon, then the 70.3 will be a catered training day. If it’s the 70.3 then after running the marathon a few weeks before, the 70.3 will be a catered training day. :slight_smile:

However, in all seriousness, as others have alluded to it all depends on your goals and priorities but that marathon a few weeks before Muskoka will take some time out of your prep for the 70.3 for the taper and the recovery after it. You are looking at at least two weeks of not ideal tri training at the prime time of your training even if you are an experienced runner who recovers very quickly. With that said, it’s certainly doable if you don’t mind two fun but slower races. A competitive half marathon on the other hand would be perfect or your 70.3 aspirations. Just my two watts


:sweat_smile: Joking aside, you need to pick one or half ass them both.

Half assing them both is fine if that’s what you want, I do it all the time! I decided this year that full ass is only for work. :wink:


Thanks for the input everyone. I really appreciate it! I agree that half-assing both of them is not in my nature, so the full might have to wait until 2021 to do it properly.

Any other suggestions for starting a TR 70.3 mid-volume plan with a few extra weeks for an extra base plan?

I think you’ve got it - SSB in Nov, then holidays and start HD tri plan, with a few weeks in hand for holidays, illness etc.

I’m not sure if this will be your first season with TR but you might consider starting with LV and uplifting to MV if you need to.

I’m in the same boat, have full marathon April, HIM in mid May.

As the marathon is my priority and the HIM is a bit of fun I was thinking of doing the HIM plan and swapping 1 bike for an extra run session each week - not sure how that would play out.

Or just scrap the bike plan and fit it in around a trusted marathon plan as that’s my priority?


Depending on your background, you most likely would be able to just jump into a marathon if you’re in good half ironman shape and you’re just wanting to “finish” the marathon.

However, regardless of how you train for and execute the marathon it’s probably not a good idea if you’re hoping to have your best half ironman. That’s the point where your most important and most specific training should occur and it will be compromised by the recovery from the marathon.

A marathon training block can potentially lead to a breakthrough stand alone run fitness level, but you may not be able to show it in multisport racing if your bike fitness is sub-optimal. It’s tough to properly execute structured bike workouts if your legs are tired from marathon specific training sessions.

Balancing the fatigue from breakthrough sessions while juggling the events in multisport is tough. It’s even harder to balance that training load between sports if you throw a marathon in.