Triathletes - Help me run faster

I just completed the SSBMVII and although I didn’t see much FTP improvement I have increased my overall fitness. I can see this because I took a break from running for roughly 30 days and improved my run time for a segment I run repeatedly and completed the run with a lower average HR. So the aerobic system obviously improved even though I did not see a significant FTP increase.

I’ve done a fair amount of bike racing over the years and I’ve decided that for 2019 I would like to become a more well-rounded athlete rather than single sport focus. To me this will mean 3-4 bike workouts per week, 2 weight training sessions per week and some level of running per week TBD based on what the TR Kingdom recommends.

I’m 46 and about 75kg. I have been off/on the bike since 2012 and have raced road, MTB and done some endurance stuff like Leadville. While it has not been a major focus of mine (lightbulb), I feel like I have failed to improve my running speed over the years.

I am currently able to run endurance runs of 6+ miles at an average pace in the 10-11 minute mile with a zone 2 HR and what I would call tempo type runs in the 2-4 mile range in the 8-9 minute per mile range. I think for the right carrot I could run a single sub 8 minute mile but that would be it, nothing repeatable. My peak running mileage for a single week last year was 26 miles.

If I would be able to get to the sustainable 7-8 minute mile universe, I would like to pursue an IM 70.3 near the end of the year and have no problem taking the year to build up my speed.

Is there a way to build real speed on 3 runs per week and if so what is the formula that you would recommend? The reason I would opt for 3 per week is I don’t want to drop the bike altogether and I’m definitely limited to 5-7 hours per week total for training. I’m considering doing the TR low volume build phase and as of today, don’t really have good access to a pool. Because of this, I thought I would build up my running to a point of me being content, then adding the swim later in the year.

Thank you for your thoughts.

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I was in a similar situation as you are, doing the similar endurance runs as you do and what made difference for me were the short but maximal efforts you can find in half distance triatlon plan, together with running ABC drills.

During that time, I was not able to gain any improvements on bike as I was more focused on run & swim part though.

Hope it helps.

Run, and run more. There isn’t really any secret to initially getting faster at running. Just like with cycling, the more you run, the faster you get. Unlike cycling, you can’t do as much structured work because of the pounding it takes on your body. Like cycling, adding in structured work will make a difference.

If I was running three runs per week, I would have one run be an easy jog, one run be a structured workout, and one run be a “longer” run. The structured workout can be a variety of things- track work, hill repeats, etc.

I typically run four to five days a week. Two unstructured runs, one run of hill repeats (5 minutes going uphill at around a 5% grade at my marathon goal pace x4, jogging back down), and one longer run.

Hope this helps.


Absolutely! Apart from brick runs (which certainly doesn’t happen year round), I only run 3 times a week and quite happily maintain a 7:15 - 7:30 min/mi for 10+ miles at a time with HR ~155bpm. Granted, that’s not exactly “fast” territory but I finish some races looking like I’ve barely broken a sweat and others are red faced, laying on the floor that have finished within seconds of me.

For a start, you could use the Tri plans on TR and omit the swims, adding in your strength training in their place. I prefer to run early in the morning before work and then do a weights session either lunch time or evening when I finish work.

For the three, I have a combination of:

  • Wedensday: Threshold
  • Friday: Intervals/Repetitions
  • Sunday: Economy

Brick runs get added in as and when plans requires them.


Be careful not to ramp your run volume too quickly. Your aerobic engine can handle a lot more running than the rest of your body can, and running injuries are common. A standard recommendation is, once you’re up to about 10 miles per week, don’t increase your weekly mileage by more than 10% in a week.

With 3 runs/week, I’d also suggest one easy jog, one long jog, and one structured interval run in general. For the first few months though, just doing a bunch of jogging will still bring significant speed gains.

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The others have hit is pretty well.

Long term view is the correct view. You do not want to increase mileage too much too fast and get injured. Seems like you have a base now – but you will how to find out how your legs respond to both running and biking.

I am experimenting with a Runner’s world 10 week plan right now. Runs 3x a week. There are tons of plans and such out there. My suggestion is follow the TR tri plan and just get some miles in the legs while keeping up the biking. Learn what your body does.

You CAN get faster.

You sound like you already have a pretty good idea for what you should be doing. Mainly Zone 2 runs with a few hard ones thrown in there. I am wondering what sort of consistency you have with your running? I personally only get above 20 mpw during certain parts of the year, but do mainly short course type of events. 26 miles in a week while still biking consistently is a fair amount of running.

I’d agree with this.


Whilst I’m a fan of intervals on bike and in water, on foot there are a wealth of people with injuries shaking their heads. Everyone wants to be able to be the best runner they can be on three runs per week, and there is a particular well known protocol on sale that sells this, but everyone I’ve spoken to has ended up injured before race day.

I’ve been running for a bout five years, not big volumes I’m a triathlete, not a runner after all. It takes a while to get your run technique right, overstriding is the first way everyone gets injured for example, then it’s running too hard, then it’s increasing volume too quickly (which I’ve just done, again by plonking a 2,5hr run and a tempo run in after five weeks patchy training).

The last three months I’ve been running easy 3-4 per week and I’d encourage building to the same the same; roughly speaking 30mins flat, easy, 60mins easy, 40mins easy hill run. You want to be breathing easily in and out through your nose, this keeps the effort down, and your heart rate down, and minimises the likelihood of injury.

I also believe that this means your body can keep focussing on adapting to the bike training stress that is your primary goal.


6 days a week of running. Barry P on slowtwitch has a good plan. You will see your times go down as you put in the miles. This is not a quick fix and will take time.

I have seen good results and below is the link for your reference.

Obviously losing weight helps also if you need to do this. I believe with every 10 pounds lost you gain 20 seconds per mile.


Thank you, I’m not familiar with ABC drills so I will check them out.

That helps for sure. I have a nice hill near my house that have considered trying to interval train up/down but other than running hard up it never had a great strategy for how to get faster or use it to train. I did some Maffetone training for a month and while it made long runs easier on my body from going at a slow pace, I would have to walk up that hill to keep my HR so low. I think using a flatter piece of the road for slow/easy/Maffetone workouts plus using my hill for repeats makes sense. I basically don’t run at V02 Max or above or do any type of intervals as it stands currently.

That link was super helpful, thank you!

Read this book!

@Stringwise I am doing the exact same as you. Earlier in the year had knee issues. Rehabed, started doing higher intensity runs, knee started to bother, so switched to only 30-45 minutes zone 2 (Maffetone) as described by @JoeX and SweetSpot Base. I have found FTp slowly rise and no body pain. Did a last minute 5K hilly race Jan 1 and to my surprise was 5 seconds shy of my PR (28:01 - yeah I’m slow). I plan on continuing through this method for the next few months until kick Sprint Training into gear.

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No problem and it works.

At 52 I just beat my 20 years old Half Marathon PR. How? A progressive 6 month high volume run trainning block. No swim or bike mostly due to time constraints. However, full running focus has been giving me a lot of dividends.
I have expectations to qualify for Kona in a few years so I sacrificed the other two sports for a bit trying to upgrade my running residual fitness.
Basic principles. Being very progressive, very polarized (either very slow Maff zone or LT and above), strength training, at least one rest day per week and a lot of intermediate races building up to a Marathon.


Are you self coached or did you buy a plan or simply come up with 6 months of training and prep on your own?

Over the past few years I have had the chance to see how the correct balance has a direct effect to increased speed in a runner.
My son has a world class running coach that has competed along side of some of the fastest distance runners on the planet as well as coached a few of them and now coaches a some of the fastest kids in the nation (Regional, state, national, junior Olympic champions)

Running , just like cycling training blocks focus on various targets, you want to run faster? several things will have to happen, running is all about quality of training and volume comes in second. IF you have a running base of roughly 60-80 miles a week you are in a good spot to begin to increase speed. The only difference in running and cycling training is terminology .

IF you have a solid base like mentioned above you need to pick 2 days a week to work hard and can alternate the workouts , Repeats or 200m, 400m, 800m, 1 mile recovery times can vary between repeats 2-6 minutes depending on your heart rate. Doing “Farklets” will also help you progress your running speed.

Your major issue will be the time that you have available to train. I gave up running to get better on the bike and its hard to manage training multiple disciplines , what you end up doing is managing your BASE on one or two and training hard for one…

I wish you the best of luck, stay focused on your goals…

I just want to kindly disagree on one thing. Running is pretty much about volume.

Not only this is my personal experience but also there is a lot of science that sustains it.
Stephen Seilers hierarchy paper is just one example.

One can try to get away with low volume by proper intensity dosing. It works to a certain extent specially in multi sport athletes.
However running economy receives a huge boost from pure volume even if performed at very low intensity. And this variable is a key differentiation factor between runners.
That is why some top ITU triathletes run more weekly miles than most long distance ones.

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