When it comes to endurance sports, marathoners are some of the most well-informed individuals around. Even still, marathon runners are constantly in pursuit of new ways to train, recover and fuel to run faster, longer and stronger. Who better to turn to than Ironman triathletes, who are familiar with running the marathon distance—but after completing a 2.4-mile swim and 112-mile bike ride?
Sure, the long course triathlon is a different beast than racing a marathon, but there's no denying that the folks adorning the M-dot might have a few things to teach distance runners.
While marathoners of the elite variety often log two runs in a single day, many of us mere mortals have never subscribed to the practice. Since Ironman triathletes have three disciplines to cover, they often put in two workouts in a 24-hour period. The main benefit of doing two runs a day during marathon training is to build volume.
"For advanced athletes who are already running 5 to 6 days per week, I will use the occasional supplemental 20-minute run in the evening to compliment a morning session," explains Gordo Byrn, a triathlon coach based in Boulder, Colorado.
These shorter runs should be run at a slow pace to simply shake out the legs and add a bit of mileage.
While some runners are diligent about completing strength and flexibility exercises for upkeep and injury prevention, the work required of three disciplines in triathlon make this practice non-negotiable.
"Every single one of my Iron athletes have a foam roller and carry it with them and travel with it," says Dan Graovac, a Boston-area marathon and triathlon coach. "Those who care about performing know that with the training load and stress on the body, the maintenance piece is key."
Indeed, whether it be rolling, stretching or lifting, marathoners can also benefit from consistently performing this type of work for both better performance and injury prevention.