It's a very slow process - two steps forward, one step back - but I'm inching in the right direction. - Rob Reiner

July 26, 2011

Now I Have Questions For YOU!!

OK, I let you guys ask me all kinds of stuff, so now I have a few questions for you.  I need some advice on a couple of training issues.

1.       My first Olympic Triathlon is just 6 weeks away!  Yikes!  The race is a 1500 Meter Swim (just under a mile), a 25 mile bike, and a 6.2 mile run.  As far as the running and swimming go, I have been putting in more training miles than my training plan required.  But, I haven’t been as good on the bike.  I have been riding at least 2 times per week, sometimes 3 and I have gotten in a 50 miler, a 42 miler, and several rides in the 25-30 mile range, but my training plan called for my long rides to be 35-40 miles for the last several weeks, and I haven’t always met that.  I usually do my long rides on Sundays.  I only have 5 Sundays before race day.  This Sunday, I will be leaving for a short vacation and will miss my long ride all together (but I am doing a Sprint tri on Saturday – but the bike is only 10 miles).  So this means I only have 4 Sundays to get in long rides….so here’s my question.  On one of those weekends I have the opportunity to do another Sprint Distance Triathlon.  I kind of want to do it because a lot of my girlfriends are doing the race and it’s in my hometown of Lee’s Summit.  I also did the race last year and it would be nice to compare my times and see if I’ve improved.  I’m on the fence about whether or not I should do it for two reasons:  1)  It’s exactly two weeks prior to my Olympic Distance Race and 2) I wouldn’t be able to get in my long bike that weekend unless I did a long bike the day before the triathlon.  So here are my questions for you?

·         Would a Sprint distance race hurt my ability to do an Olympic Distance race in 2 weeks?  i.e. would I not be recovered enough?
·         Would I be better off to do my long bike instead of the race?  Or could you kind of count this as an endurance event that is equivalent to a long bike.
·         Should I do both – i.e. do a long ride on Saturday and then the triathlon on Sunday? 

2.      OK, my second issue is my 1st marathon that is coming up in January.  As most of you know I am a slow runner.  I anticipate my marathon time will be around 6 hours.  That’s a long, long time to run.  I had a training plan kind of together that would start on August 22.  It’s a typical plan that builds for 3 weeks, and then has a 1 week recovery plan.  I have already started kind of using the Jeff Galloway run/walk method and that seems to be working.  I know there is no way I can run an entire marathon.  I’m just not there yet and won’t be before January.  However, another part of the Jeff Galloway training plan is to do a long run every other week and a shorter “recovery” run every other week.  Disney has a couple of different marathon plans on their website that all incorporate this plan.

According to his training plan you only run 3 days a week, which I think is not enough.  He does say if you are already running more days than this you can keep doing so.  I think I would still plan to run 4 to 5 days a week.  Anyway, his plan has you running 30-45 minutes 2 days a week and then alternating doing a short run and then a longer run every other week.  For instance – Week 7 is 2 short 30-45 min run and then a 4 mile run as your long run, but then Week 8 is the same 2 short 30-45 min runs, but 9 miles on the weekend.  You basically build your “short” long runs from 4-7 miles every other week, and then you go up 2 miles per week every other week for your other long run.  So you go from 4 miles all the way to 26 miles in the training plan.  On the one hand it sounds great because it really only means 2 long runs per month vs. 3 in most traditional plans.  But I’m afraid by using this plan I just wouldn’t feel ready for the marathon.  On the other hand you run a 26 mile run in this plan vs. most other plans that top out at 20-22 miles.  So here are my questions for you:

·         Has anyone ever tried this training method or know anyone who has?
·         If so, what was your/their experience?
·         Do you have another first time marathon training plan you would suggest?


  1. I wish I could help you out on the bike part. I've only just in the last 3 months done two 20 mile rides. I'm no expert :( At all. My overall feeling is how fit you feel. I think if you're ready 2 weeks before the event than you're as ready as you'll ever be.

    As for running I use Hal Higdon, I've used him to get ready for my halves and fulls ALTHOUGH, since I'm having IT trouble I'm switching to Galloway. At this point I have no choice but to alternate between running and walking. I like that he takes you all the way out to 26 miles. You'll be able to know EXACTLY how your marathon is gonna go based on your 18 mile run. Be honest with that run and it'll give you a very good indicator. Just build up to that!

  2. I'll let you know Oct 2nd if the 3 day a week thing works! That's basically what I can manage with my work schedule, unless I rotate up to nights, then I can get an extra run in. 3 days got me 1/2 marathon ready so don't see why it wouldn't work for the marathon. I top out at 20 miles though. I've added in 1 extra run a week through the summer just because of extra days off that I have taken, but I'll be back to 3 days for the last month of training. I think the point is to make your 3 runs quality workouts...does that make sense?

    I'd do the sprint Tri because it sounds like you'd regret not doing it with your girlfriends. Besides, you RULE on the bike and 25 miles is cake for you! You won't have any problems with the Olympic distance! Have fun :-)

  3. Do the sprint, you will regret more not doing the race then doing it, its more race experience, its racing with your friends, this is what I would do personally, I would to the sprint, have some fun with your friends and after they leave, hop right back on your bike and do the bike leg again, you will already know the course, you already have all your gear and bike ready to go, even ask your friends to go with you and make it a small little group bike ride, then you can talk about the race and get more miles in.

  4. I don't have real advice for you on the tri thing. My initial thought is you prob would be fine to do the sprint before your oly. Take it with a grain of salt - I have all of 4 tris under my belt. Ha ha

    On Jeff's plan (we are on a first name basis - much like me and Hal Higdon)... Anyhow, I followed *most* of his plan for the Goofy Challenge last year. Long story but switched to his plan about 8 weeks before the race. I don't remember there being a lot of fluctuation in mileage from week to week on the long runs but my memory isn't great... I do remember that the long runs went up to 26 miles which is unusual. I really liked having done the distance before race day. For me, it is HUGE to have the mental advantage of knowing I have done the distance before I get to the race. Just helps mentally.

  5. Let me ask you a question (so many questions going back and forth!)... Do you have a goal race? If so, what is it? If the Olympic is an A race, I would not do the sprint. An Olympic is tough enough without being tired on top of everything else (says the girl who just bonked in her Olympic tri two days ago). :) If the Olympic is just for fun, then maybe do the sprint with your friends.

    You can always go cheer your friends on, take pictures, go out for a nice breakfast afterward, etc. After you do your long bike ride, of course. :)

  6. I was just looking over the Galloway Disney plan because I'm running the goofy, and I agree, I don't think its enough. I think it might be enough to survive- but I would aim for a minimum of 4 days a week. But allowing for some easier weeks will help prevent burn out. I plan on using Bart Yasso's perfect 10 plan.

  7. I think you can pull off the sprint tri. Don't worry about the long bike too much. You've done the distance before and it's not any new territory. Of course, the long ride should be replaced with intensity which you should accomplish with the sprint anyway. I say go for it.

  8. I like Hal HIgdon Marathon training plans for various distances. I used it for my first marathon and even though he doesn't say walk I combined a walking plan with his and made it work for me.

    I would be tempted to do the sprint tri because it sounds fun with your friends and that is what racing is all about.

  9. I have no idea about triathlons (since you are my main resource for everything triathlon related), but I would say that it's fine to do the Sprint tri. Maybe treat the weekend before the race as your last big training weekend for the Olympic tri? Then you can do the sprint tri, then taper on the weekend before the Olympic tri.

    As for marathon training, I did the Hal Higdon novice plan and thought it worked great. You run 4 times a week, and you could cross train the other days if you like with swimming or biking. It's an 18 week plan and takes you up to a long run distance of 20 miles.

    You could probably also walk parts of the training runs - no idea how these are factored in, but maybe walking 1 minute every mile or something?

  10. BDD is correct. Do the sprint. You'll be recovered and if you tack on the miles as he suggests you will have raced and gotten in a longer ride.

    As for the running. For me personally there is no way I would run 26 miles prior to a marathon. There is not enough time to recover for the marathon so I would not do that, but this is just me.

  11. My only experience with the marathon was last year. I ran 4 times a week - 1 hr speed session, 1 hr hill session, a 16k mid-week run and a long run every weekend that built from 24k to 3 weeks at 36k. Three times a week seems a bit light to me and a long run only every other week? I just don't think that's enough.

  12. Feel free to reach out to me if you want detailed advice but.....

    Do what is fun withbthe races. You can always do more miles afterwards if necessary. That being said, you can trade duration for intensity (shorter workouts should be much harder).

    They call it a plan for a reason. Follow the plan.

  13. No tri advice from me.

    But I can help with the marathon! I used Jeff Galloway's 4-hour plan when I trained for NYC in 2005. I know I ran more like 4 or 5 times a week. It totally worked (though I was over 4 hours--too hot and humid to beat 4 that year). Most of those super long runs were pretty boring (the plan I was on actually called for topping out at 29 miles, and I did it!), but I was more than prepared when race day rolled around. In the end, due to adrenaline, I ran the whole race and set a 40-minute PR.

    One tip that made the 26-mile training run more fun: enter a marathon (different from your goal race), if you can find one nearby, so you are with other people and have course-provided water stations, but run it at the same pace, with the same walk breaks, that you would any training run. I did this. It was great. And that "training run" was still a 10-minute PR over my first marathon eight years prior (NYC was a 40 minute PR over the training run!).

    Hope this helps, Michael! You have big plans!

  14. I don't have much advice, but I know that the training plan choices and decisions can get overwhelming. I'd do the Sprint because it sounds fun and shouldn't that be what this is all about? Good luck with the marathon. Can't wait to cheer you on!

  15. I would do both the long ride and the tri in the same weekend. Just do the tri for fun 'cause you will be a bit tired from the day before, but it sounds like that's ok for you.

    On the Galloway plan--gotta admit I'm not a fan of that approach. I really don't think you should do a 26-mile run--you'll be on your feet forever and that leads to lots of recovery time required afterwards. Just my 2 cents.

  16. I think you should definitely do the sprint!! It sounds like you've already covered the bike distance before so you'll be good to go with that! Do the sprint, have fun with your friends, and think of it as a great training day for your Olympic.

    As for the marathon, I also would NOT do a 26miler before the actual marathon. The recovery time needed after running 26 miles is too much.

  17. I also use Hal Higdon's intermediate plan for my first marathon and frankly I wish I had more long runs in there. Actually, I'd like to have three 20's in there but I don't have enough time to fit 3 in for the next marathon. Galloway is a good source(as you know). I would just trust it. Also, I do like that Galloway's plan takes you to 26 especially since I crashed hard at about 23 miles. Remember, its your first. #1 goal - finish! Also, I say do the sprint tri for fun, not worrying about time or racing. Good luck on your decision.

  18. Definitely do the Sprint! Racing experience trumps a long training ride any time. You'll need a little recovery if you push it, but you'll be fine by the time you do your Oly.
    I've trained for five marathons running three days a week with a decent amount of success. The thing is, you have to keep up a pretty rigorous cross-training regime. If you're only running, then step it up to four or five days. You are going to be AWESOME!!

  19. Another vote for do the sprint! I can't speak for you but I do this for fun, and fun is spending time with your friends!

  20. I know this guy. His name is Jim. He lives in Kansas City. Nice guy. His wife is very pretty. He ran 3:19 at Boston this year. Maybe he can help you with a plan.

    That Galloway plan seems way too low milage. Uncle Hal would be better in my mind. You can always do a the Galloway walk/run method on Uncle Hal's Long Slow Run. Then, just run the rest.

  21. I used Hal Higdon for my first few marathons and halves. But, some people prefer the run/walk method of Galloway which is a totally different approach. If you need the run/walk then stick with Galloway!

  22. As for the tri-I would really get in that long ride as opposed to the sprint tri.

    Getting in your mileage on the bike will be more beneficial to you I think. I have had this same question before and I regretted not doing the ride and doing the sprint instead.

    Good luck!

  23. I would do the sprint. In fact, I did the same thing before my first Olympic try just a month ago. I needed the sprint to try out my wetsuit. I'm also training for a marathon at the same time, so I wasn't concerned about a sprint wearing me out. I'm always training for something and just make sure to get in my recovery days. I had 4 full days off before the Olympic due to sightseeing in London before the race. I felt great on race day and did WAY better than I thought I would. My longest bike ride was 30 miles.

    As far as the marathon goes,I run at most 3 days/week, but do the elliptical 1-2 days. I also have my bike that is thrown in there as well. I found that when I trained for my first marathon I and was running 4 days and teaching 2 step classes/wk. I got injured very quickly. Topped that training off at 17 miles (due to the injury) and just hit the elliptical big time. I had to adjust my goal for the race and run more conservative, but I did it. For the second marathon I trained more conservatively to avoid another injury, again topped off at 17, had 2 healthy knees and shaved 20 minutes off my time! This go around my longest runs are 20 miles. My advice is to listen to your body. The marathon is doable. Doesn't matter if you run the whole thing or run/walk. I know you can do it!