Training plan in support of marathon running

Hi there-

This may be ‘cursing in the church’ (a common saying here), but I am wondering if you all believe there is a cycling training plan on TR that would support my marathon running. Due to my professional situation - I am moving to another country after April - I cannot participate in the triathlon event that I had planned end of June. So I decided to sign up for a full marathon.

Since I will not have a triathlon nor cycling goal next year, I figured why not put all my effort in this marathon…

Any advice is welcome!

  • Vincent

I would respectfully suggest running instead of cycling for pure marathon training. Sure you could replace an easy run with an easy bike but it’s not as good as just running. Mileage matters.

It doesn’t really matter if you just want to cycle as well as running off course do it. Especially if it motivates you and makes you happy. And it could possibly keep you enthusiastic as a small break from running each week. But generally it isn’t optimal. I just put cycling to the side when I went for a marathon.

As always YMMV.

Thanks - surely the primary focus would be my running workouts, which amount to 3 or 4 a week. But being from a tri background I am familiar to multisport- and daily training. I normally would go for a 70.3/half distance tri so attempting to finish a marathon isn’t really a big deal. I realize this sounds arrogant but I’ve been running 30km already while training for a half marathon PR (plan proscribed) and those went well.

Thing is I don’t want to lose my cycling fitness and don’t think I would need to.

Currently I am contemplating a Traditional Base (LV) followed by Sustained Power Build (LV).

I’m from a tri background as well. I had completed numerous 70.3 before marathon training. It’s not the same. Your attitude to the marathon (no offence intended) does sound a bit complacent. Running 30km in training isn’t comparable to racing a marathon. Sure if you only want to finish it’s a different story but if you are looking for an actual time it’s different.

I don’t think running 3 times a week is close to enough for a good marathon time. It would probably just get you through.

I totally understand you don’t want to lose your cycling fitness but I think your cycling plans will take away from, rather than add to, your running ambition. But it really depends if you want a good marathon time or are happy with a finish. Again, open running isn’t the same as triathlon running.


I know and agree. My goal is to finish in 3h30 meaning a 5:05/km pace. My half PR finished in 1h36m30.

Let me attach the training plan I will follow for the marathon (week 1, 6 and 12 of 16 total):

Perhaps you’re right. What do you mean with your last sentence?

Good luck with it. I think with your half time that marathon goal is certainly attainable for you. But it will require a lot of commitment.

So by the last sentence I mean that the challenge of running a standalone marathon is very different from running a marathon as part of a triathlon. The management of nutrition, pacing etc make it a really different challenge. With for example 13.1 at the end of 70.3 you are already fatigued and managing that. With an open marathon you will be trying to run to your full running potential. Does that make sense?

It would be good to get since other opinions though this is just what I think and my experience.

It does!

Yeah that would be great. Let’s see!

1 Like

Similar situation for me, always been a cyclist…then past 3 years started running to take on duathlons’ but always focused on sprint duathlons and 5k or 10k running. Pb is 18:20 5k, 38:20 10k and did do a half in 1hr24 last year. Usual week is 3 runs and 3 cycles.

However this year thought try a marathon and set myself the goal of sub 3hr but if honest thought 3:10 more realistic.

Did v low volume running plan really, never more than 3 runs a week - 1 long one, alternating between 16/17 miles and 20ish miles (did 4 twenty mile runs in total), then one more speed focus (v02 max/5k pace intervals) and one tempo/10ish k pace. Both the shorter runs usually about an hour. Think my max week was about 35 miles. I also did 2 bike workouts a week, mainly sweet spot/tempo/threshold for one and either the same or a longer endurance ride for the other. I cut out one bike workout to give extra recovery given the long run and also bit of strength and conditioning work.

Well late October was the day (in Abingdon, UK - nice and flat) and it was torrential rain and thunderstorms for first 75 mins, just horrid! Managed to hold sub 3 pace, going through halfway in 1:29:30…however wheels came off about 18/19 miles in and went to damage limitation. Last 10k/6miles bit of a death march but determined never to walk. Crossed the finish line in 3:04:45 so really pleased I hung onto sub 3:05… actually v pleased given I wasn’t prepared to cut cycling down any more to increase running mileage and was told by MANY people/runners that would never get near 3hr on that low a mileage. Anyway legs feel destroyed but wine and pizza flowed!

So basically did 3 runs a week and 2 bike workouts. Could have chosen low vol sprint Tri plan as that has 2 workouts a week but pretty much just used Train now and/or chose my own.

1 Like

Great time on that mileage.

:raised_hands:t3: Impressive.

Ouf, how I can dread threshold workouts. How do you believe they contribute to the marathon goal?

Great finish time, esp. considering the conditions you describe. You should be proud.

In my earlier post containing some weekly plan details, you can see that the running workouts increase progressively in time/distance and frequency. Perhaps when that point arrives I will tune down the cycling to max. two per week. (The weather will be better here by then, so hopefully I can get even more outside time next to the running.) In sum, for now I might select Sustained Power Built to start and see where that takes me. The running program starts after Christmas. I quite like the plan’s description and see it fitting with long-distance running:

Sustained Power Build plans build on your base fitness to target greater sustained-power capabilities. Most of the plan’s key workouts are aimed to improve strength endurance, fatigue resistance, and the mental ability to withstand prolonged discomfort. The plan also includes some higher-intensity VO2 max work to further develop your aerobic capacity.

Basically I prioritised the 3 runs and just sublemented with the cycles instead of the ‘filler easier’ runs in most running plans. If felt good then sweetspot/tempo (particularly in earlier stages when runs were easier), if/when more tired then endurance rides.

In my experience, trying to combine a TR cycling plan with a separate running plan is difficult. However, given your triathlon experience, I think you’d be well-positioned to have a run-focused block that has additional rides scheduled. Like others have suggested, the run should be focus.

In the past, I opted for three to four runs per week:
1x intervals
1x tempo
1x long
1x recovery (optional, feasibly could be ‘Recess’ or ‘Lazy Mountain’ workouts)

Then, for my TR workouts, on the day where I ran intervals (AM), I would complete an interval workout (over / unders, for example) in the PM. This means that my hard days were very hard. Other TR workouts came immediately after my runs so that I could ‘tack on’ some additional capacity building without necessarily having the impact of running longer / further. For example, after my long run (never longer than 18/19 miles), I would add 30-60 minutes of Z2 depending on the run duration.

My approach might not work for all / most, but it worked well for me.

1 Like