Switching to single sport: Running

The only think I’m going to say against all this “don’t need to run much”, is that if you are relatively poor at running due to a very low running economy, then you are less likely to improve without significant amounts of running. And I’m going to wonder if that is the case with you - have you ever been on a treadmill with O2 measurement in a lab?

But I still have to agree that do not drop your overall volume of aerobic exercise as you move to more running focus.


I remember a good runner once saying to me when I first got into tri snd asked as similar question to Joe, lose weight (I wasn’t very fat but 100kg at 6ft 5 is too much typically) and until you are regularly running 40miles a week, stop sweating the little stuff. Whilst the number seems high I now understand his sentiment, and it goes for most triathletes, you are nowhere near your aerobic ceiling and consistency is what is key. Do the easy miles week in week out.


My volume goes up and down depending but my general rule of thumb is: Not less than 50km and not more than 100km.


I think 40km or 4hrs is bandied about as the “minimum” or basic for triathletes most places I’ve read or at least that’s what I’ve surmised. My volume occasionally hits that but not consistently and that’s due to triathlon. If I only had one workout a day that’s got to be easier from a consistency stand point right?

So work up to 6 or 7 hrs running per week and see where that gets me. As an approach I’m fine with that.


Beth Potter, Alex Yee, both run pretty well off multi-sport training.

Hayden Wilde made the NZ Olympic qualifying time, Nicola Spirig has won Swiss running titles. It suggests cross training is a benefit, not a hindrance to running performance

It certainly helps, but I know how much Alex still runs. When he won the 10k British title in 2018, he was peaking at over 100mile weeks! He runs a lot even now, as they all do. Elite tri is still basically a running race.


Frequency certainly works for me. I ran a 3:28:xx marathon off 4x 8km runs Mon-Fri lunches, longer run at the weekend but only properly long every other weekend. I cycled to work too but only 13.5km round trip. My avg weekly volume was about 25 miles for last 8 weeks or so.


Jesus I cannot imagine the time on feet, let alone the pace!

Obviously I’m not looking at his kind of performance, but I suppose it’s also true that I have no idea of what is possible.

If I can run a 49m 10k in an olympic I’m probably 46/47m stand-alone maybe lower?

That’s averaging 10h per week overall, only 29km running or <3h, year to Brighton marathon date three weeks ago.

So a 45m 10k should be in reach but is breaking 40m a bit hopeful? I’m 46 and I’m no lightweight after all.


Can I ask how much improvement did you see in your running over the course of the marathon training?

1 Like

No. Does the outcome have much bearing on your training?

2yrs ago at age 54, I ran a 42.33 10k and a 20.175km as part of a duathlon. I also ran the Reading HM in 1.38 about a month later.

I dabbled with the idea of going under 40m for 10km but I have to say, for me, that 2.34 that I needed, even in that year just as well have been an hour. It’s quantum leap IME.

I was about 82kgs at the time.


Possibly, what it would indicate is how inefficient a runner you are, if you are particularly inefficient, then time on your feet will likely have a bigger impact, rather than if you’re efficient, in which case you’ll probably see more benefit from the more overall aerobic gains which lift everything up. I’d say if you were efficient, then I would be more confident any sort of aerobic boost would work.

Of course if your inefficiency is something that isn’t very able to change (limb lengths and stuff) then time on feet won’t help. Time on feet might not help either necessarily if it perhaps just makes you more efficient at a lower pace, rather than more efficient at all paces.

Personally, I’m pretty inefficient runner, but going up to 60km a week for a couple of years hasn’t made any difference to my 5-10km speeds, my 5km PB is still from when I was doing maybe 20km a week at most (although I don’t actually try really) so it may not help at all.

1 Like

Ah yes, well I am a short arse. And I think my arms and legs are shorter relative to my torso than average. So I guess I must have relatively long torso otherwise I would be simply even shorter!

I’m 172cm tall and my inseam is 28” so what’s that 71cm in the legs?

1 Like

You’d be surprised how slow a lot of it is. 8min miles slow , but when the elites need to go fast they do it properly. We ain’t elites though, have other life stresses, and can’t have a nap at 10am after the first session of the day and at 2pm after another and lunch. We are also not 23yrs old :rofl:


Having watched your progress, i would say that you are a natural cyclist. Despite not being the lightest athlete, your bike time in Barcelona was seriously impressive. What transformed my running was the switch to doing Ultras and by following the “5k how low can you go” thread. I really worked hard on the treadmil to improve my run while keeping my HR below 130bpm. About 3 years ago @Poet started to encourage me to do slower runs, he commented on my Strava when I did a good easy run… I have never told him how much that encourage me to improve my easy runs. I also followed @stenard and his run training as he was aiming for sub 3 hour marathon- at the time I thought that he was in a totally differerent world to me… now my run sessions are pretty much the same as his from a couple of years ago

You can certainly become a competent runner. I would certainly not give up swimming or cycling, however, I would work on a structured running program.

I am sure that the Tri-Talk community will do our best to help you along


I gave up tri a few years back. Not entirely sure why, partly I have developed an irrational fear of open water (but that is for another thread maybe one day), partly I am not interested in long bike rides and getting punctures. partly running is easier (kit wise) and cheaper.

Anyway with tri I was a pretty good AG tri runner. Comfortable sub 40 olympic 10k, ran a 1:23 at mallorca 1/2IM I think.
Apart form the odd weekend, the majority of my biging was the up to 200k a week commute across London, but that was enough for me to be a front mid pack biker.

Anyway, since coming to NZ and loosing that commute and therefore biking, I now only run (quite a lot). But there is no doubt I am a lot quicker. There is the shoe effect somewhere in there, but for example, I use to struggle to go sub 18 at my local park run, now i have run sub 16:30 at 5k and can probably go sub 17 most weeks without really focussing. My marathon focus has moved from sub 3 to sub 2:40!

I said this on the VLM thread recently, I completely agree with what Mathew and Poet are saying about running slower. If you want to get quicker, get your easy runs faster and more economical… But you also need volume, which is easier with a single sport focus.


Sub 2:40 is stellar.

I did have some rapid success on the easy runs as I was doing 6:30/km previously then our TT thread on aerobic running got me around 6:00 iirc, then in spring on a 10k plan my easy runs went to 5:40ish and then dropped to 5:10-5:20. It did feel good to be running faster but still easy breathing, easy HR. Admittedly when I switched to longer course running my easy runs went back up to 5:40-6:00, but still.

However, I am mindful that easy runs are supposed to be slow so it may be that I started overdoing it.

Aside from my hip and knee issue (which I’m hopefully sorting the rest of the year). the one problem I have with time on feet is that after about 5-6hrs my feet feel like they’re made of glass. They get very tender and I have no idea why

I rarely get it on training runs unless I go over 45-50k but i do wonder if accumulated volume is a factor?

Point being, when the running volume goes up, even when done over time, there may be other factors you need to consider, like longer recovery as well.

1 Like

I’d say that was too fast for easy runs, but if you can nose breathe or have a chat then that’s the best gauge of effort for most of us.


There are 3 guys in my running club in mid/late 40s who were ok runners but have improved massively in the last couple of years. I think they all started being coached by the same guy.

At London last week one ran 2.42 and one ran 2.48

The 2.48 guy puts all his running on Strava. This was his last long run:

21 km zone 1-2 (I imagine)
11 km marathon pace
5 km zone 2

Averaged 118 km per week in July and August. Lots of 20km runs at 4m40 per km

The 2.42 guy doesn’t share his training, but it’s similar. Lots of mileage, with proper hard efforts thrown in during the longest runs.

To put this in perspective a few years ago we were all running 39-40ish minute 10kms and about the same standard. Now 2.42 guy has a 34 minute 10km to his name.

So what I have seen locally is that big improvements in running are definitely possible, even for middle aged men who have been running for a while. It takes a LOT of hard work though. More than I’d be prepared to put in, for sure.

Also I’m no Hulk Hogan, but both of these guys are now super skinny, which I’m not convinced is the greatest look when your a more “mature” gentleman :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes: