Why are the long runs/rides shorter than race distance? | 80/20 Endurance

Why are the long runs/rides shorter than race distance?


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  • #14110

    Good Day, I am not asking specifically to me (though that is where the context comes from).

    So for background, I have been training in tri for a few years (and a decade in rowing before that). All my training has been around the 80/20 philosophy (even if the coaches/plans did it in a different way). With my last few cycles of tri, training for a 70.3, my long runs would be in the ~2 hour range (up to 2.5 hours in base). Rides would be in the ~3 hour range (up to 4 hours in base phase). Even when I train for Half-Marathons I would regularly run 26 km as part of the training plan.

    This cycle I am trying your 80/20 plans. I am using the book and I am on the Half-Iron Level 3 plan. So far I enjoy it and believe I am seeing results. But it feels like the long run/rides are not long enough and don’t hit race distance. Swimming is good, I am regularly doing 2500, 3000, 3500m workouts (well over the 1,900m race distance).

    Right now I am finishing week 7 and looking ahead it seems most of the rides are CMI1/CMI2 which are in the 2-2.5 hour range. If there are any it doesn’t seem like many will be regularly over race distance/time. Similarly for running, the long runs are primarily RF12/13 which are 90-105 minutes. For myself, training at altitude, I only hit ~17 km at z2 speeds. So again a tad short of race distance.

    So I ask out of good faith and interest (and I am not challenging/arguing). What is the logic for this? Why are the plans not quite hitting race distance/time for long workouts?

    David Warden

    R, thanks for posting and thanks for using our plans! No offence taken at all at your question, it’s a reasonable ask.

    Modern training has reduced the role of the individual long workout in favor of total volume and frequency. The long workouts are still essential, but workout frequency and total (weekly) volume have been shown to be as important for improved performance. If the long runs and rides beat you up too much, we can’t fit in the frequency and volume you experience in the plan.

    Your 70.3 Level 3 plan still includes 6 rides of 3 hours, 4 runs of 1.75 hours and one run of 2 hours. We feel that number of long workouts is consistent with an elite level of performance.

    Training short of the event distance is common in endurance training (no marathon plan includes a 26.2 miles training run). Granted, with 70.3 training, you can hit 13.1 miles and not have it destroy your training the next day, but the 17km you are getting in on those 1.75-hour runs is plenty distance for 70.3 training.

    You’d get a different answer from different coaches, and some of this is just personal coaching philosophy. Considering we have at least 30 80/20 athletes competing at the 70.3 World championships next month, I’m confident in the Level 3 plan.



    Thanks for explaining that. I can confirm, with my one marathon training (Pfitzinger’s 18/70 plan) the longest runs I did were 32/34/35 km.

    There’s still something to say about the mental side of knowing you can regularly finish the those distances/times. Also great to have regular opportunities to practice the nutrition needed for those distances/times.

    But I don’t doubt it will work, just a different way of training I haven’t done before. I do like the plans regularly have 4 cycles and sometimes 4 runs a week.




    Thanks for this question. I was wondering the same. Training for my first marathon, I’ve actually set out to complete the 26.2m/42.2km a few times but couldn’t do it (heat/humidity, GI issues, overtraining). I’m satisfied with my weekly mileage and have done numerous long runs ranging from 15-22 miles, and many have told me “you will be fine”, but I’m still bummed I haven’t run a full marathon. It’s a psychological hurdle I would have liked to overcome. Too late now … race is 21 days away.


    David Warden

    dcollins25, just wanted to add my voice to the masses saying “you will be fine” with a 22-mile peak run. I’ve coached <3.5 hour marathoners at an 18mile peak run (ok, with some natural talent and 20-years old...). 22 with a quality training plan is plenty.


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