So maybe you’ve been considering making the switch from marathons to triathlons. One of the things to consider with this switch is whether this change will have an effect on your running times. Doing a side-by-side comparison of the top 20 male runners in the 2014 New York Marathon and the top 20 male triathletes in the 2014 Ironman World Championships , you will see that the in most cases, the top triathletes’ run splits are nearing the three-hour mark. The top marathoners are barely over 2 hours.
Don’t let the difference in run times alarm you. This is because the triathlete competing in the Ironman competition is running a marathon after swimming 2.4 miles in rough water and cycling 112 miles. With your current training regimen, could you do that and still make your best marathon time? Both athletes require a strong physique, strong endurance and speed. However, the triathlete needs to have even more.
Think training for a marathon is tough?
Besides the additional training, the nutritional needs of a triathlete can be greater than that of a marathon runner; therefore, they need to eat more food and more often. This helps add to their endurance because their body has more fuel to fall back on. When it comes to swimming, the triathlete needs to have more body fat to assist with buoyancy and maintaining body temperature. This is contrast to most marathoners’ preference for a leaner body carrying less body fat.
Will cross-training make me a faster runner?
While you may run less when you add swimming and biking into the mix, you are building up your aerobic strength, which will really help you with running. The other benefit is that as you're gaining strength from these zero-impact activities, your body is taking less of a beating as you become less prone to injuries.
So take a tip from the triathlete training and improve your running speed and endurance. Remember, you don’t have to be a triathlete to workout like one, but you can still reap similar benefits.