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Half Marathon vs. Triathlon Training?

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Got my lazy butt out of bed at 6am this morning so I could get the YMCA as soon as they opened up for Adult Open Swim. I really didn't want to go, so I had to bribe myself. "If I go swim for 1/2 hour now, I can get a skinny Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks on my way in to work." Well, somehow that tactic (and putting on my bathing suit) worked!

I got there and STILL didn't want to swim, but I figured, "Well, I'm here. Might as well get to it!" I ended up swimming for half an hour and getting 32 lengths in. That was the plan. I did learn that I've been calculating my swim distances all wrong, because I thought one length was 50m but it is actually 25m. No wonder! Haha. I am not so good at the maths. Anyway, today I did 800 meters (or 32 lengths). An official Sprint Tri is 750 meters. I did that in 28 minutes. Pretty much the same time I've been getting all along. But, I'm pretty happy with it.

Still having breathing issues. Not as bad as before, I guess. I have to keep telling myself, "Leah, no one is trying to steal your air. All you have to do is lift your head and get some. It's just right there above the top of the water. Plenty of it! Just LIFT YOUR HEAD!" Don't ask me why this is so hard for me! I just can't get a rhythm. I'm thinking it might be worth investing the $120 into having a professional swim coach give me four one-hour lessons at the YMCA. And, if you are a member getting private lessons, you are allowed to bring up to 3 friends. If I bring my entire little "triathlon wannabe" team, we will all only have to pay $30. I think that's a sweet deal!

I'm a little on the fence right now about whether I should be pushing swimming and biking off until after my half marathon and focusing mainly on running. I am very far behind in my training for this half, in terms of mileage. I have 6 weeks to build from essentially a 3-mile long run up to a 13-mile long run. I am feeling the pressure. Is swimming and biking taking energy out of my body that should be directed towards miles running and strength training only????

What do you think? Especially those that have run half marathons before. What would you do if you only had 6 weeks to train for a half marathon? Granted, I'm not planning on running the ENTIRE course...run/walk is fine...but I'd love to finish in less than 3.5 hours and I run very slow (15 min/mile) and walk even slower. Advice?
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Hi There...

    It can be done as long as you stick with just your LSD run at increasing increments. Often biking and swimming is just great cross training. However, as I think was mentioned already it would probably be a good idea to stick to one thing at a time and since the HM is coming up soon you may want to refocus, the other stuff will be there afterwards!
    1805 days ago
    Take the pressure off. Stick to the half marathon training and switch gears to triathlon training once you're done with the half.
    1805 days ago
    Focus on the 1/2 for now.

    You can do this

    It will be great!

    Gve us a full report - can't wait to read it.

    1806 days ago
    Six weeks is not very long, but considering you're coming off an injury, I would aim for two days of cross training and three days of running--two shorter runs (maybe 3-4 and 5-7 miles) and the third be your long day, increasing a mile a week until you get to 12 miles (or the HM :) I've run the Indy 500 Half three times, the first with only six weeks of training (triggered by a very traumatic missed miscarriage, so I was very out of shape and not even supposed to be exercising). I did it but it wasn't pretty the next day :)
    1808 days ago
    I have had trouble with that gasping for air feeling too. It seems like my body thinks it should just go the whole 25 m before breathing for the turn. Ha! I am not in that kind of shape at all. The really strange thing that helped me was wearing a swim cap and goggles. It was as though that streamlined me enough so I could focus on the rhythm of the stroke and timing my breathing much like I do when I get a good pace going on land. Having a few lessons or a trainer would be an excellent gift to yourself!

    You've had lots of good advice about prepping for your HM. I think you will do great continuing the path you are on.

    I admire your commitment to your fitness routine. Tremendous goals to work towards.

    1810 days ago
  • DRB13_1
    I don't have a suggestion, I'm with the well wishers who know you'll do well no matter what.
    Having done both sprint tri's and half marathons, if the HM were not coming up so soon I'd definitiely be in the crosstraining camp. That was the best thing about triathlon - switching up the routine really helps the conditioning and for me, reduced the risk of injury. And it wasn't boring emoticon On the other hand, I remember VERY well the effort of the HM and knowing it was something I had to train for, not something I could just get up one morning and do. Just a reminder, that if your HM is local, it sure can be a bonus on event day to have practiced on at least some of the course.
    emoticon Cheering you on! emoticon emoticon emoticon
    1810 days ago
    Hi Leah;
    What is your gut feelings telling you to do, I'd do that then go back to the triathalon training. I think your swimming & biking is building up strength & staminia in your legs & entire core, which all sounds helpful for your half marathon. I believe in your strength, if you keep going the way you are you'll run, walk whatever you choose & the finish line will be there before you before you know it because your strengthing your core, & your thinking healthy.

    I believe You can do whatever you set your mind to do, I'm cheering you on each time I pray for you & each blog of yours I read, You Go Girlfriend.

    I've read quite a few of SanDiego John's blogs since he began marathons maybe he can give you the precise answers your looking for, however I think you have the answers inside you already.

    Many Blessings Always Debby emoticon emoticon emoticon
    1810 days ago
  • DJSHIP46
    I liked the sounds of your bribe... gotta try that:) The swimming lessons sound like they would be very helpful. I had a lot of swimming in school but came out still not breathing comfortably, but it wasn't individual training either. I finally gave up... don't compete... and do the side stroke ;) Too bad that won't work for you! Can't advise you on where to concentrate your training either, but I know the more experienced will and I do wish you tremendous success with all your training and competitions emoticon
    1810 days ago
    I"m not sure what is best but whatever you decide good luck with the half! You can do it!
    1810 days ago
    Listen to your body... train for the half, but keep the swimming and biking on off days. They help you build endurance, too...

    You can do it!!! You will have a great half!!
    1810 days ago
  • NEWMOM20121
    Best wishes to you, whatever you decide. I love your dedication and it helps push me a little farther along.

    Glad you are feeling better, and great job keeping in shape while recovering.
    1810 days ago
    I have no idea what you should do, but private lessons with your lil crew sounds like a stupendous idea.
    1810 days ago
    Isn't it cool that you're debating one fabulous exercise with another, instead of debating to exercise or not?

    You are already a champion!
    1810 days ago
    So having done a run only half training program(with bootcamp) on my then 44 yo knees and then doing a cross training program with so very little running only to see my 10K time get faster, I'd cross train. Plus, I think you are coming off an injury? Running is tough. The tri-athalon was scary but fun, I love a good duathalon because the swimming thing is tough but I can only get faster after setting the bar rather low with an open water swim. Our Sprints have had anywhere from 400 to 800 meter swims. Have fun.... emoticon
    1811 days ago
    Ya I would concentrate on the running and building that endurance up. The long runs are very important at this point and you are behind so put all your effort into running and resting so u dont get another injury and have to start all over. good luck!!!
    1811 days ago
    Cross training helped me so much for my first half marathon (my only thus far).

    Make running your focus but on the days you don't run, swim or bike. Cross training is the BEST!! emoticon emoticon emoticon And strength training is good too! Don't forget to stretch and have rest days. Those are important too.
    1811 days ago
    too funny! I think one day you're going to be training for an Ironman and you will laugh so hard that you confused a 50 m pool with a 25 when you started out. And I truly believe that you will get there. It sounds like you are really enjoying swimming, so swim!
    As for the running, you will know what is best in the next 3-4 weeks. See how long runs go. For me, I'd want to be able to do 10 comfortably. I know lots of people say, "I'd only run 6 or 7 and I was fine!". But I also know you what to be a lifelong runner. You want to run and swim and bike a few days after a HM. And a good training plan, a proper taper, and rest will get you there. Be careful, listen to your body, and have fun!!!!
    1811 days ago
  • JUNEAU2010
    Not being a runner (yet), I have no advice, but I am impressed by your swim! I think that, if you can do that kind of speed in the water, you should be able to do anything on your feet that you want to accept as a personal challenge!

    1811 days ago
    I am not sure what advice to give you but think others have covered that well. emoticon
    1811 days ago
  • OPTIMIST1948
    I think given you have injured yourself doing running-only focus, then you should do the tri training with steadily increasing running distances working towards the HM. Your body may just need a more diverse diet than just the one thing.

    I ended up learning how to breath on both sides (3 strokes instead of 4) to avoid the "gasping" sensation. I promise, it gets better. I would love to take swim lessons, I've been working on getting Child to take his so I can take mine at the same time. So far, no-go. But I still have hope...
    1811 days ago
    I think you should also do some swimming and biking while training for your HM. I cross trained while I was also running and I think it helps keep you more balanced and motivated. If you are walk/running 6 weeks training is going to be enough... just make sure you have good running socks and shoes so you don't get a blister!
    1811 days ago
    You are SUCH an inspiration! The swimming lessons seem like a great idea,, too. I'm also training for a half marathon and definitely need the mental stamina that comes with the longer runs. But you know what will work best for you! Regardless, we all know you'll reach your goal!

    1811 days ago
    Take good care of yourself, and go for it! I'm proud of you!
    1811 days ago
    Take good care of yourself, and go for it! I'm proud of you!
    1811 days ago
    I don't run just here to wish you luck
    1811 days ago
    I never got past about an 8 mile long run before my half in April and I ran most of it and finshed under 2.5 hours. The general rule is if you can do half the distance regularly while training, you can do the race. I had never done the whole sprint tri distances back to back before those races either and did fine. I am hoping doing bricks and other tri training will work for a half also since with my injured foot I have been cycling and swimming for the last 2 weeks instead of building up running distance. It's all good...
    1811 days ago
    I've looked at half training plans, and I have seen some where the longest run prior to the race has been 10 miles. I would be nervous going in without having run those 3 other miles before, so I don't know.

    As for the half vs. the tri training, I would focus on the half right now, or just not run it at all. You are coming back from an injury, and you're trying to rush training - I worry you'd get injured again. You should only add 10% in mileage per week, so you should do the math to decide.
    1811 days ago
    I think the swimming lessons are a GREAT idea Leah! I'm sure you will get a lot out of them and be much more comfortable in the water.

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    1811 days ago
    Completely ignorant!

    All I can say is care for your body and don't hurt yourself!

    1811 days ago
    I would make the majority of your workouts running workouts at this point at least get to the 8 and 10 mile range. The cross training from biking and swimming are good too. If you had done a half before I would say you could slide on the running but mentally it will be better for you race day to get that running mileage in it seems like Karen definitely spelled that out and others agree. Besides you have plenty of time to train for a tri since that season is winding down.
    1811 days ago
    I have no doubt that you will figure out what is best for you. Good Luck!!!
    1811 days ago
    I don't kmow about the running, as I'm just starting out, but I think the swim lessons are a GREAT idea!
    1811 days ago
    Do what YOU are capable of. If you push too much you will injure yourself. A month before my half marathon, I ended up having gall bladder removal surgery but it didn't bother me. Traing, the longest run I ever did was 6.05, so half of a half. And I ran it fine (except I pulled my hip flexor bc I didn't know how to stretch it. I'm going to run 2 more (Nov and Feb) and I'm not planning to train with long runs. I'm doing what I can.
    1811 days ago
    That's awesome!!! I used to swim in HS, my event was the 500. And that's 20 laps of the pool (25m). I used to do it in 12 minutes. Now I'd be lucky to be able to do a 25. I would love to get back into swimming. But I'm not comfortable enough with myself to parade around in a bathing suit in public yet.

    1811 days ago
    I know nothing about running, but I think that a swim coach / lessons would be great. I have always had trouble breathing while swimming - learned as a child and I think part of it may have been that they kept telling me to breath to the right every time - I had to blow out air, then would be out of time to breath. Turns out - you can adjust your breathing to what works for you. Who knew? (Well, I certainly didn't as a small child!)
    1811 days ago
    I would focus on the half, 'cuz it's coming up. Just use swimming and cycling as your cross-training, so that you don't lose conditioning there. Also, yeah, take the class at the Y!
    1811 days ago
    I'd focus on one thing at a time. Hate to burn yourself out before you do either event.
    1811 days ago
    Run first and swim as an alternative on days when you need a change.
    1811 days ago
    I'm with KAREN42BOYS, I'd focus on the running until after your half, maybe doing swimming and/or biking on cross-training days if you don't want to lose what you've gained in those areas. If you can build your mileage up to at least 10 miles before the half, you'll be good to go for it; that's the advice I got before my first half, and it was true. Just be careful as you're increasing your mileage, you don't have a lot of time to build it back up, but you also don't want to get another injury again.
    1811 days ago
    This is your first half and you've been injured. This is your first endurance race, too. I'd give my full attention to that. Running, yoga and strength training to keep you loose and strong. Assuming your doc is cool with you doing yoga and strength training.

    I would save training for the next event until post-half. That said if you need the swimming to stay happy, go once a week, but save the lessons until after the half.

    And I'm in a similar position. My half is October 7, and I did my first long run last Saturday since I've been recovering from my injuries. My goal is to build my mileage up over the coming weeks, do all the training my PT gives me, work through my leg stretches that my old trainer taught me, and set my time goals low for the race.

    And check if your Y has a Masters team to get swim coaching. Post-half. :)
    1811 days ago

    Comment edited on: 9/5/2012 5:08:33 PM
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