Long runs (and rides)


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    Hi all,

    I am still in Ironman training (Late August, Vichy. Who knows right…) and am following the Ironman 1 plan from the book. I had a question on the long runs and potentially rides as well. And that is, how long/far should they get? And yes, I know that the time duration is key here, but I was looking ahead at what’s coming and what that time duration would mean for me.

    Some context here, I’ve done several marathons. 2h46 being the fastest time, where longest runs were always 2h15-2h30, luckily my running coach is taking the 80/20 approach and I am used to do a lot of Z1/Z2 work. However this programme makes me do a 3 hour long run just over 2 weeks before the IM. Which would basically see me do c.40km and that feels a stretch based on my previous marathon training. Both in length/duration and how relatively close it is to the event. Is that a difference with triathlon training, or would you recommend going a bit shorter, say 2h30 for the longest run?

    Same btw for the long rides. With training hitting up to 6 hours, which based on those first weeks I would expect would see me get close to the 180km of distance. But I guess for rides (and swim) this is more easily doable seeing it is a different level of impact/recovery?

    David Warden

    Bjorn, thank you for checking in and reading our book. Fingers crossed for you August event!

    Let me first quote from the book, which will set me up for your individual answer.

    From 80/20 Triathlon page 72:

    One unresolved question you may have about time-based training is this: “Since my race requires that I complete a certain distance, not a certain time, don’t I need to cover the approximate distance of each leg of my event at least once in training?” This question is particularly applicable to Ironman training because it is easy to meet or exceed the swim, bike, and run distances of sprint, Olympic, and even half Ironman triathlons in workouts. The short answer is no. It is not necessary to complete a full 112 miles of cycling in any single bike ride or 26.2 miles in any single run before your Ironman event. The full answer is
    that, when you’re training for an Ironman, it would be wise to cover at least 100
    miles in a bike ride and at least 20 miles in a separate run workout. These infrequent, outlier workouts can still be scheduled based on time, however, using
    your estimated average speed or pace to convert distance to time. For example,
    if your Zone 2 average cycling speed is 17 mph, you should plan a 5-hour and 45-minute ride if you want to cover 100 miles.

    The 80/20 training plans presented in this book include workout duration
    upper limits that should meet the distance requirements of athletes of all

    In your case, however, it’s not an issue of doing too little in the duration recommended, it’s doing too much. For an elite runner, like yourself, I would limit the long run to 2.5 hours. As you state, no change is recommended on the bike or swim due to recovery abilities in those sports.

    So, you really answered your own question! As the author of the plans, the challenge is that even though we wrote 4 levels of plans, it still cannot fully accommodate all athlete abilities within those levels. For most triathletes, it will take 3 hours at least to run 22 miles. For you, the recommended adjustment is best.



    Cheers David, very helpful. Will adjust as said for the longer runs.

    Obviously you can’t meet all individual’s needs/abilities in a book or even a couple of programmes. So far so good though, and all is laid out very clearly. So thank you for writing and looking forward to following the rest of the programme.

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