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Open marathon on 70.3 training?
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So I've been training for, and doing 70.3 triathlons since last year. And I'm wondering if the 70.3 triathlon training would be sufficient to run an open marathon?

My thoughts are that it should be possible because you already train for endurance that you need to finish a marathon. Main concern might be that 70.3 triathlon training doesn't include long enough runs.

Off course it can be done, but I want to be able to finish in a (for me) repectable time.


Any thoughts, or experiences with it?

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Last edited by: mlagerwerf: Apr 2, 19 3:50
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Re: Open marathon on 70.3 training? [mlagerwerf] [ In reply to ]
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Well you said "respectable" time, which is quite vague, really. But on ST I assume this translates into a quite fast time I've never achieved, so go ahead and take my response with a side of salt.

Sure, it's possible. I trained for the Berlin 2 day skate / run marathons on a 70.3 plan for which I converted swimming to skating. In Berlin I ran my then-personal best 5:04:xx.

I was a) 20 lbs overweight and b) not yet at the point where I pushed myself in triathlon training.* I clocked in / clocked out the time volume but would say probably none of the sessions were of any real quality. The * is b/c I was regularly playing ice hockey then, probably on multiple teams, and most certainly did push effort in those games. So I had some harder sessions, just not while running or biking.

I'm a different triathlete now (experience wise) and have no idea how a 70.3 plan might fare me for a marathon, but I've got no interest in trying it!

To breathe, to feel, to know I'm alive.
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Re: Open marathon on 70.3 training? [mlagerwerf] [ In reply to ]
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It really all depends on your expectations in the marathon and what your 70.3 training is really like. Are you doing 7-10 hr/wk just finish plan or a 15-20 hr/wk compete at the front of the pack plan. How many running miles per week?

Under the first, you'll likely enough cardiovascular fitness to get through it, but it's going to be painful. You're legs and feet are going to really hurt for the last 10k. Under the 2nd, sure, go for it and have fun.
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Re: Open marathon on 70.3 training? [mlagerwerf] [ In reply to ]
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If you mean to take a solid base of 70.3 training, and add in some longer runs for a few weeks before the event, sure I can see that working out reasonably well. Is it ideal? No. Will it yield your best marathon result? No. Will you finish? Probably.

My concern would be your durability as a runner. Do you often find yourself with minor niggles connected with the running you are currently doing? If so then pushing out the run distance on minimal training isn't going to work too well. If you find, however, that your run durability is such that you never really find yourself hurting you might be able to get away with this.

The term "respectable time" is a bit too vague to be useful.

If, however, you mean to train using a 70.3 plan, but instead of doing a 70.3 you substitute in a marathon, I would say that's a terrible idea.
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Re: Open marathon on 70.3 training? [ In reply to ]
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My focus this season is on a 70.3 in the beginning of september. Putting in about 8-10 h/w of training. And doing about 3 runs a week with a total of 40km per week.

I ran around an 1:45 half marathon in a 70.3 triathlon. And have no issues with running or any pains afterwards on longer runs.

I am wondering if an open marathon half october would be do-able. Just following my 70.3 training plan and after the race adjusting it with some additiobal longer runs to get ready for october.

And a "respectable time" is vague, but would be looking to finish around 3:30 to 3:45.

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Re: Open marathon on 70.3 training? [mlagerwerf] [ In reply to ]
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There is nothing magical about a marathon in terms of training relative to any other running distance. This is why you can reliably estimate your marathon time from a half or 10k. In reality even a 5k provides a decent basis for estimating a marathon in the same way a 20min FTP test is a good indicator of cycling performance over much longer intervals. Run the numbers through something like this: https://www.runnersworld.com/...race-time-predictor/ and see where you come.

If your goal is way off the race estimator then you need to tweak your training. If everything looks about right there is no need to make big changes.
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Re: Open marathon on 70.3 training? [mlagerwerf] [ In reply to ]
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In 2016 I "marathon-focused" my training and viewed tri training as cross-training. Had plenty of long runs, even a few weeks with two of them. Didn't run a great race and ended up at 3:08:55. I *should* have run around a 3:03 but overran for the first 20.

In 2017 I was preparing for a half IM, did plenty of volume but not a ton of long runs. Had very few 40+ mile weeks. I did a couple of run double bricks - 8 mile run - 60 minute ride - 8 mile run type stuff. Ran a 3:07:35.

SO yeah, I would have ran a little faster marathon had I executed my run well on the marathon focused year, but the margin for error was big enough that I actually ran faster on Tri training year.

One small piece of advice: For me biking created a muscles imbalance that only showed up on marathon race day due to the work level. Basically my quads - fit from my biking volume - overpowered my hamstrings. I have since incorporated some quad/glute strength training and it seems to have fixed that problem.
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Re: Open marathon on 70.3 training? [scott8888] [ In reply to ]
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scott8888 wrote:
There is nothing magical about a marathon in terms of training relative to any other running distance. This is why you can reliably estimate your marathon time from a half or 10k. In reality even a 5k provides a decent basis for estimating a marathon in the same way a 20min FTP test is a good indicator of cycling performance over much longer intervals. Run the numbers through something like this: https://www.runnersworld.com/...race-time-predictor/ and see where you come.

If your goal is way off the race estimator then you need to tweak your training. If everything looks about right there is no need to make big changes.


I, and nearly all hardened experienced marathon runners, definitely disagree with you greatly on this one.

I would actually strongly say that for most 'AG runners' (nonelite), 5ks-HMs are almost interchangeable and accomplishable just by modifying pace and race strategy, while using similar training volume and intensity.

The MARATHON, however, is a totally different beast. At 26.2 miles, you better have lots of high mileage training in your legs to keep the distance - the VAST majority of folks underperform their 'calculator' estimate by 20+ minutes the first time out, and 10+ minutes on subsequent attempts.

Even if you can run a 70.3 at a good clip, and feel fine the next day, you will be in for a monster rude awakening when you show up to marathon day, expect to run an adjusted 'calculator' pace based upon even a recent standalone HM performance, and then watch in horror as your legs cramp full out at mile 20.

For the OP, I def think you can FINISH the marathon on 70.3 training, and the 'respectable' component is totally subjective and up to you. If you're content with finishing +30 mins slower than your calculator prediction time, you'd likely be fine. For <5 or even <10 mins to your marathon calculator time, highly unlikely, and you may very well get a short-term injury during the race that will sideline you for a month as a result.

I will note that here on ST, there are a surprising number of fast people that can run sub 3:15s on <25mpw. (There is some guy who runs sub-3 on <15mpw!) These guys are the EXCEPTION to the rule. I've been on plenty of marathon forums in the past, and nearly nobody pulls this off (although mannnnny people try.) And it's not just my opinion - there will be virtually no establish triathlon coaches who will claim to be able to reliably get you to a strong marathon performance of pure triathlon training - they would actually dissaude you from the marathon until you can commit to it.
Last edited by: lightheir: Apr 2, 19 9:25
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Re: Open marathon on 70.3 training? [mlagerwerf] [ In reply to ]
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I am in the early phase, starting last year, of balancing a marathon per year (1st 1/3 of the year) and 70.3's the balance of the year. I'm an older AG'er (55-59) and it's difficult to get faster on my running events when I am heavy into the training cycle for a 70.3. For me, it comes down to trying to set realistic goals that I can live with making training compromises to race in road races and tri's.
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Re: Open marathon on 70.3 training? [lightheir] [ In reply to ]
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I feel like saying running a 3hr marathon on 25-30 miles per week is exceptional is like saying running a sub 16.30 5k is exceptional. It’s a matter of perspective.

Thousands of high schoolers go sub 16.30 every year and in many ways a 16.30 is distinctly average for 5k runners. A 3hr marathon is nothing special for competitive male athletes and many many people can do it on minimal training.

I would also point out 10min over a 3hr marathon is 5% so I think that’s pretty darn good as an estimate.
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Re: Open marathon on 70.3 training? [dhinkle] [ In reply to ]
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HIM run pace and marathon pace should be very similar.

The question is what sport specific endurance does it take to hold that pace in a race?

With a HIM you need regular 3 hr Bike workouts.
With a marathon you need regular 2:30-3 hr runs.
You could do both these things.
But that probably means 15hr/wk+ of training.
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Re: Open marathon on 70.3 training? [scott8888] [ In reply to ]
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scott8888 wrote:
I feel like saying running a 3hr marathon on 25-30 miles per week is exceptional is like saying running a sub 16.30 5k is exceptional. It’s a matter of perspective.

Thousands of high schoolers go sub 16.30 every year and in many ways a 16.30 is distinctly average for 5k runners. A 3hr marathon is nothing special for competitive male athletes and many many people can do it on minimal training.

I would also point out 10min over a 3hr marathon is 5% so I think that’s pretty darn good as an estimate.


If you think a sub.16.30 5k is 'average', you need to recheck your standards. If you start from that perspective, than ok, 3hr marathon on 25-30mpw is not a big deal.

Take a poll here and ask how many STers think a 16.30 5k is 'average' for a non collegiate runner.

If you are such a good coach that you can literally take 50% of all men in high school (not the cherrypicked talented ones) and coach them to a sub 18:00 5k (which is not even close to your 'average'), you would literally be the most amazing running coach in the world.

If this were collegiate running forums, than ok, I'd be more amenable to your standards, but I'll bet the OP isn't asking from that selective a viewpoint.
Last edited by: lightheir: Apr 2, 19 11:22
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Re: Open marathon on 70.3 training? [Velocibuddha] [ In reply to ]
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Velocibuddha wrote:
HIM run pace and marathon pace should be very similar.

The question is what sport specific endurance does it take to hold that pace in a race?

With a HIM you need regular 3 hr Bike workouts.
With a marathon you need regular 2:30-3 hr runs.
You could do both these things.
But that probably means 15hr/wk+ of training.

True and that's why I split my year up. Travel 85% of the year and lose out on the mid-week rides and masters swim opportunities during tri season. Weekends become critical for me. Run near the top in AG in tri's and local races but for me I lose some speed running with the tri training. Wish I had 15+ hours to work with.
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Re: Open marathon on 70.3 training? [mlagerwerf] [ In reply to ]
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I've played around with this a little.

In 2010 I trained with the plan to have a great race at Augusta 70.3 but did a few longer runs with the idea to try to BQ at MCM. I had a good 70.3 and then ran a 3:19 (14 mins off) and blew up around 18.



In 2012 I did the same and at Augusta 70.3 I ended top 5 AG with a 70.3 slot and again ran a 3:19 (14 mins off) and blew up around 18. Sandy came through around then so it was super windy.

I laid of the marathon for a while, but this past registration had me in the 35 age group so I attempted a marathon BQ in January 2018. I had done IMFL in 2017 and the plan was to roll ironman fitness into the marathon. I laid low recovering til thanksgiving then did a build til the end of December and ran one the 2nd week in January. I felt good leg-wise, but my stomach didn't agree and I had three stops the back half for a 3:13.

I decided to give it another go this fall with a similar idea, but this was a little different. I did IMchoo and had a great race. 25 days later I did Marine corp marathon again and pushed a girl in a wheelchair for it. We did a 3:27. I did one 13 miler between the IM and marathon a week before the race. The 2nd Saturday in December I went to try to hit 3:05 again and finished at 3:04 with a negative split on the 2nd half.

Looking back, I think it can be done on 70.3 experience if you are a seasoned marathon runner. I think the biggest thing I had over that 5 year break was just getting used to the long distance endurance hurt that IM & marathons give you vs a 70.3
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Re: Open marathon on 70.3 training? [mlagerwerf] [ In reply to ]
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I ran my first marathon off pure 70.3 training, 6 weeks after a 70.3. I was running closer to 80 km/wk. It's do-able but I suffered the last 3-4 miles. That's where the endurance of 70.3 training falls off. I finished but it sure hurt.
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Re: Open marathon on 70.3 training? [lightheir] [ In reply to ]
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I didn’t say 50% of all men in high schools. I’m talking about 50% of high school XC varsity runners. This is still a vast number of athletes and is a valid population for comparison.

If your goal is only to be better than the average human being on earth you have set the bar super low.
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Re: Open marathon on 70.3 training? [mlagerwerf] [ In reply to ]
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I’m planning on doing this, by racing 70.3 Cozumel in the last weekend of September, and 10 weeks later try to BQ with a sub 3.

Would be my first marathon, so its’ a somewhat ambitious goal. What gives me confidence is that is not my first marathon focus, I trained with the same BQ goal in mind for a spring marathon but ended up with a glute tear 3 weeks before and a DNS. Aside of the injury, workouts indicated fitness for a 2:57. Considering that before that 18-week marathon focus I had a yearlong break of all endurance sports, I think after a good summer base this goal should be achievable.
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Re: Open marathon on 70.3 training? [scott8888] [ In reply to ]
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scott8888 wrote:
I didn’t say 50% of all men in high schools. I’m talking about 50% of high school XC varsity runners. This is still a vast number of athletes and is a valid population for comparison.

If your goal is only to be better than the average human being on earth you have set the bar super low.


I can guarantee that not 50% of HS XC varsity runners are running 16:30 5ks. At the very top schools, yes, but across all HSs, absolutely not.

I think a valid bar when dealing with random ST posters is to compare across fairly serious AG triathletes. If <3% of AG triathletes can run a 16:30 5k, even in their prime, I'd say you absolutely cannot say it's 'average.'

Note that you're not the only one guilty of this - swim times are thrown around here like you have to be a D1 college swimmer to be 'average!'
Last edited by: lightheir: Apr 2, 19 13:20
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Re: Open marathon on 70.3 training? [Conky] [ In reply to ]
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Since when is the last 10km of a marathon not suffering / painful? Even if you feel good, you empty the tank and make it painful. Maybe the problem wasn’t fitness but of expectations?
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Re: Open marathon on 70.3 training? [mlagerwerf] [ In reply to ]
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I’d say keep running 10Ks and half-marathons and get faster first for another season or two. It will benefit you more as a triathlete which is presumably your primary focus. When you can comfortably run a 1:20 13.1, then go for a sub 3 hr marathon, which is undesputedly respectable. No quotation marks needed.

I’m an injury prone runner, but every time I’ve bolted a marathon onto a 70.3 or IM season I’ve ended up injured. Best case scenario I’m left with a mediocre marathon result and spend the next couple months with green hair smelling like chlorine for so many swim and aqua jogging sessions.
Last edited by: wintershade: Apr 2, 19 21:31
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Re: Open marathon on 70.3 training? [lightheir] [ In reply to ]
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lightheir wrote:
scott8888 wrote:
There is nothing magical about a marathon in terms of training relative to any other running distance. This is why you can reliably estimate your marathon time from a half or 10k. In reality even a 5k provides a decent basis for estimating a marathon in the same way a 20min FTP test is a good indicator of cycling performance over much longer intervals. Run the numbers through something like this: https://www.runnersworld.com/...race-time-predictor/ and see where you come.

If your goal is way off the race estimator then you need to tweak your training. If everything looks about right there is no need to make big changes.


I, and nearly all hardened experienced marathon runners, definitely disagree with you greatly on this one.

I would actually strongly say that for most 'AG runners' (nonelite), 5ks-HMs are almost interchangeable and accomplishable just by modifying pace and race strategy, while using similar training volume and intensity.

The MARATHON, however, is a totally different beast. At 26.2 miles, you better have lots of high mileage training in your legs to keep the distance - the VAST majority of folks underperform their 'calculator' estimate by 20+ minutes the first time out, and 10+ minutes on subsequent attempts.

Even if you can run a 70.3 at a good clip, and feel fine the next day, you will be in for a monster rude awakening when you show up to marathon day, expect to run an adjusted 'calculator' pace based upon even a recent standalone HM performance, and then watch in horror as your legs cramp full out at mile 20.

For the OP, I def think you can FINISH the marathon on 70.3 training, and the 'respectable' component is totally subjective and up to you. If you're content with finishing +30 mins slower than your calculator prediction time, you'd likely be fine. For <5 or even <10 mins to your marathon calculator time, highly unlikely, and you may very well get a short-term injury during the race that will sideline you for a month as a result.

I will note that here on ST, there are a surprising number of fast people that can run sub 3:15s on <25mpw. (There is some guy who runs sub-3 on <15mpw!) These guys are the EXCEPTION to the rule. I've been on plenty of marathon forums in the past, and nearly nobody pulls this off (although mannnnny people try.) And it's not just my opinion - there will be virtually no establish triathlon coaches who will claim to be able to reliably get you to a strong marathon performance of pure triathlon training - they would actually dissaude you from the marathon until you can commit to it.

Your post accurately describes every single one of my marathons that were run with a specific time goal. And the failures were not just physically painful, but mentally crushing b/c my coach, a strong runner, believed I was capable of the faster finishing times and did not add the proviso, "if you train a marathon-focused plan".

The thing is, back before I my tri-specific training I was commonly getting injured with marathon-type run volume and my dad, who is adamantly a marathoner, is always injured. So while I can participate and be crushed by my missed time, he cancels his races. Anyway, end result is I've taken marathon running off the table. F that shit.

To breathe, to feel, to know I'm alive.
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Re: Open marathon on 70.3 training? [wintershade] [ In reply to ]
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You’re correct, the last 10km will hurt no matter what. It could have been expectations for me, but having a weekly long run of 14-15 miles in 70.3 training will not lead to a strong marathon finish, hence why I say fitness.
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Re: Open marathon on 70.3 training? [lightheir] [ In reply to ]
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I ran my first marathon 3 weeks before my first 70.3 (also my first ever tri).

As some have said already, your pace for your HIM run will be similar to your marathon, and was certainly the case for me, 2:59 for my marathon, my first HIM was was 1:38 in crazy humidity in Indonesia and I was very inexperienced. 2nd 70.3 3 months later and my run split was 1:31 in Thailand.

My run training for my first marathon was 17 mpw, but obviously combined with tri training. A couple of years later I ran 2:51 on on 15 mpw, but have since got a good chunk quicker with substantially more running!

I would say that the Runners World calculator linked earlier is massively pessimistic, certainly for my times. It thinks a 15:10 5k converts to a 2:51 marathon???

I think that Jack Daniels is more realistic and thinks that my same 5k time is worth a 2:25 marathon, which is pretty much on the money for me.
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Re: Open marathon on 70.3 training? [lightheir] [ In reply to ]
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lightheir wrote:
scott8888 wrote:
There is nothing magical about a marathon in terms of training relative to any other running distance. This is why you can reliably estimate your marathon time from a half or 10k. In reality even a 5k provides a decent basis for estimating a marathon in the same way a 20min FTP test is a good indicator of cycling performance over much longer intervals. Run the numbers through something like this: https://www.runnersworld.com/...race-time-predictor/ and see where you come.

If your goal is way off the race estimator then you need to tweak your training. If everything looks about right there is no need to make big changes.


I, and nearly all hardened experienced marathon runners, definitely disagree with you greatly on this one.

I would actually strongly say that for most 'AG runners' (nonelite), 5ks-HMs are almost interchangeable and accomplishable just by modifying pace and race strategy, while using similar training volume and intensity.

The MARATHON, however, is a totally different beast. At 26.2 miles, you better have lots of high mileage training in your legs to keep the distance - the VAST majority of folks underperform their 'calculator' estimate by 20+ minutes the first time out, and 10+ minutes on subsequent attempts.

Even if you can run a 70.3 at a good clip, and feel fine the next day, you will be in for a monster rude awakening when you show up to marathon day, expect to run an adjusted 'calculator' pace based upon even a recent standalone HM performance, and then watch in horror as your legs cramp full out at mile 20.

For the OP, I def think you can FINISH the marathon on 70.3 training, and the 'respectable' component is totally subjective and up to you. If you're content with finishing +30 mins slower than your calculator prediction time, you'd likely be fine. For <5 or even <10 mins to your marathon calculator time, highly unlikely, and you may very well get a short-term injury during the race that will sideline you for a month as a result.

I will note that here on ST, there are a surprising number of fast people that can run sub 3:15s on <25mpw. (There is some guy who runs sub-3 on <15mpw!) These guys are the EXCEPTION to the rule. I've been on plenty of marathon forums in the past, and nearly nobody pulls this off (although mannnnny people try.) And it's not just my opinion - there will be virtually no establish triathlon coaches who will claim to be able to reliably get you to a strong marathon performance of pure triathlon training - they would actually dissaude you from the marathon until you can commit to it.

So while I totally agree with you that the marathon is a different beast entirely from shorter runs, I am not sure how much of an exception to the rule is that you cannot do reasonably well on "less" run training than a typical marathon plan would have you do.

I don't personally feel I am in any way a special athlete. Just a guy in his late 30s who trains a metric ass load. I have recently run a sub-3 marathon at the end of a season of Ironman training, after spending about 6 weeks in more of a run bias before the marathon. Even now as I am finishing up the build for Boston coming up, I have been generally averaging 15ish hours a week, of which the running averages 35-ish miles (longest run weeks in the low 40s).

The OP suggested basically taking the peak fitness of a 70.3, adding on a number of weeks of a slightly more run bias before the marathon. Is that going to yield an absolute best marathon time? No. Of course not. Would it be pretty close? Within 5 or 10 minutes of a best possible time? Probably.

There is definitely a running durability issue with running long that needs to be trained. But much of the fitness component can certainly come from triathlon training also.
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Re: Open marathon on 70.3 training? [mlagerwerf] [ In reply to ]
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With that info- that your goal marathon pace is at or a little slower than your 70.3 pace, I would say yes, if at least a month out from the marathon you start doing some runs in the 18-mile range to test your durability. (Maybe 2 of them before you begin a taper 1.5 -2 weeks from the marathon) If you get through those ok, I think you'll make your goal. 1 month of longer runs is not enough to meaningfully improve durability, I don't think.... But if you have a couple years of weekly runs in the 10-13 mile range you're probably good.

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Last edited by: RowToTri: Apr 3, 19 6:45
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