Training For An Ironman Without Running Over 3 Miles

This post has been updated here

That’s right, I’m going to attempt an Ironman event without running more than 3 miles in training!

OK, OK. It’s a Half Ironman (1.2 mi swim, 56 mi bike, 13.1 mi run), because people that do full Ironman events are crazy. And I’m only half crazy. ;) The event in question is the Ironman 70.3 in Galveston, Texas on April 26th.

An-exhausted-runner--001How is this possible?

Running hard. Really, really hard. While traditional endurance training is lots of miles at a moderate pace (ignoring “speed work”), I’ll be doing intense, interval style running.  I mean if I can sprint up hill for 3 miles that would have to translate into the ability to run (jog?) a lot farther, right? …right???

Why are you doing this?

I initially got into trisport because I needed a reason to workout and I enjoy both swimming and biking. First I set my sights on a sprint tri and later an Olympic tri. But after that I slowly fell out of training because it was too much of a time commitment. I enjoy bike riding but, I can’t often find half a day to drive somewhere nice and then bike 24-32 miles. When I went back to grad school, my free time all but vanished.

I got the idea from Tim Ferris’ book The 4 Hour Body that covers how intense interval training can substitute for moderately paced longer mileage training for marathons or even ultra marathons. His book includes a full training schedule with different intervals for different days (runners do seem to love complicated schedules – just pick up any running magazine), but I needed something uber simple.

I distilled Tim’s two chapters into this: run intervals on the treadmill (run/walk/repeat) increasing the running speed, incline or ratio (more running or less walking) as I can, and don’t run more than 3 miles.

So far I’ve increased from 2 min of 10 min/mi pace runs with 2 min walks when I started in December to 3 min of 8:30 min/mi pace on a 1% incline and 1 min walks. My distance has increased from less than a mile to about two miles (including warm up). With warm up and cool down this takes me less than 30 min to complete. I have been taking 1-2 days off between runs.  If it’s a nice weekend, I’ve taken a bike ride around my house for about 10 miles (~50 min) instead of running.  The pedaling on such rides has gotten noticeably easier as my running has progressed (It’s working! *maniacal laughter*).

Tune in soon for my write up on test #1: The Aggieland Sprint Triathlon.

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