Member Question: Half Marathon Training During HIM Training

author : Amanda McCracken
comments : 1

Can I do extra running miles for my two half marathons while starting a half Ironman training program?

Member question from nchill31

"I am just beginning the 20 week 1/2 Ironman triathlon training program 18 weeks out from an April 25th race.  My running is up to 13 miles, as I have two half marathons in January.  Does it matter if I do "extra" running until those January runs, then taper back to the scheduled running workouts?  Also, I tried to do the scheduled swim workout in 40 minutes as prescribed, but I fell quite short of the distance it said to do.  Am I supposed to exceed the rpe to finish the distance, or stay with the rpe and just do the time?"

Answer from Amanda McCracken
D3 Multisport Coach

My first thought is that it sounds like you will have a great running base going into the beginning of the 20 week half-ironman program!  On the other hand, I am weary of an athlete racing two half-marathons in one month if the athlete is also busy building bike mileage.  Be careful of overtraining leading to injury!  A triathlete can pile on bike mileage more safely than he/she can run mileage compounded with bike miles and intensity.  If you focus on running miles and intensity in December and January, I’d compliment the runs with easy bike miles with low intensity.  

A lot depends on your base going into the training and whether or not you are using the half-marathons as training (like a tempo of 3 x 15’ at half-marathon pace) runs or all out racing.  I suggest using at least one of them as a tempo run and separating them by at least 2 weeks.    

In asking me if it’s ok “to do ‘extra’ running until those half-marathons”, I’d say yes, but monitor the miles.  How fast you are determines partially how long your long runs should be.  For example, a 3:30 marathoner will likely put in at least 2 eighteen mile runs and 1-2 twenty milers.  However, I wouldn’t recommend 5 hour marathoners to put in even one 20 miler because that would require them to be out on their feet for too long for the experience to warrant the toll it would take on the body.  For the half-marathoner, I wouldn’t recommend doing long runs much over fifteen to sixteen miles.  The “slow” athlete isn’t going to be out quite as long for the long runs so I think he/she can stick to a few runs fifteen to sixteen miles in length.  The faster the runner the more “long” runs they can pack into the schedule because it doesn’t take as great a toll on the body.  

Once you’ve built up a great base of miles and miles with tempo, you may want to adjust the schedule so as not to taper off the miles too soon.  For example, I would back off of the high miles for a week and a half in February to give our body some time to recover from the halves then work back up to match the long runs and at the same time extend the tempo time during the tempo runs.

As for your swimming workout question, don’t worry so much about the time which is an estimate.  The prescribed workout at the suggested effort is more important.


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date: February 23, 2010

Amanda McCracken