Ironman Triathlon marathon one mile repeats

For your fastest Ironman Triathlon marathon ever you might want to give Ironman Triathlon marathon one mile repeats a try.

As a matter of fact if you are training for any marathon you might want to consider including this program into your race preparation.

This is a very challenging program and may not be for everyone, but for those willing to give it a try, you just might have your fastest marathon finish time ever.

When it comes to the Ironman Triathlon, running one-mile repeats will enhance all aspects of your triathlon fitness, and not just the the run.

I came across this concept over 15 years ago and decided to try one year when I was getting ready for Ironman Canada in Penticton.

This workout is done once a week for eight weeks.

I guess the best way is to describe it exactly the way I did it way back then and then you decide from there what might work best for you as everyone has different levels of ability and desire.

I started with five one-mile repeats on the first week. I added one repeat each week for eight weeks.

So by the time I reached the last week of the repeats I was running 13X1 mile, or basically the equivalent of a half-marathon in total distance.

The idea is to run the intervals faster than your predicted race pace. So for example, I wanted to run an Ironman Marathon around three and a half hours and an individual marathon under three hours.

To run a three hour marathon I would need to average 6:50 per mile. So I ran my repeats faster than that.

I ran each mile repeat between 6:30 and 6:40 and I left on 7 minutes.

In other words, whatever time I had left between one interval and the 7 minute mark was my rest and then I started the next one.

Ironman Triathlon marathon mile repeats training

Mile repeats will teach your body how to sustain a pace.

Sure, there are those who will say you should have more of a rest in between your repeats, or do less repeats, but I chose to be more aggressive in order to get my body used to the constant, demanding pace.

I was fit going into this one-mile repeat program and the 20 or 30 second rest in between each repeat was sufficient enough to bring my heart-rate back down and to recover enough in order to maintain the same pace for the next mile.

It really surprised me that I didn’t fade and lose speed as I ventured into the fourth and fifth repeats on the first day. It seems that the body will adapt quickly to the physical demands you are making on it.

I always tried to make my last repeat the fastest in order to give myself a psychological boost with the knowledge that I still had lots left.

On the eight week I did 13 one-mile repeats on seven minutes. So basically I ran the equivalent of a 1:32 half marathon in that training session(while actually not running for 20-30 seconds in between repeats).

Once again I made the last mile the fastest and I did the 13th mile in 5:50 and I knew then that I was as ready as I would ever be

This program is really for those who are already fit, but looking for something to try to take them to new heights in their marathon.

I started the program in mid-June and it ended the last weekend in July and that allowed for a one month taper into Ironman Canada.

One important consideration is that you have an easy training day the day before your mile repeats and another easy day(perhaps a swim workout)the day after.

As far as results from that experiment I was able to run my fastest Ironman marathon ever with a clocking of 3:34. Not lightning fast like the pros, but as an age-grouper in my 40’s at the time I was pretty pleased with the result.

The interesting thing is that both my swim and bike times were also personal bests. I believe this is because that workout really improved my over-all endurance and fitness.

Ironman Triathlon marathon mile repeats training

A 400 meter track would be ideal for your mile repeats.

Regardless, I qualified for Kona that year.

The next year I did exactly the same program leading up to a July marathon and posted a personal best time of 2:54 flat which really surprised me because that is pretty much exactly the same 6:40 pace I ran the mile repeats at.

I was hoping to be under three hours…….perhaps 2:58 or 2:59 which was a slower pace of 6:50, but it just worked much better than I thought it would.

I felt so good in the early miles that I was able to ramp up my speed and maintain it right through the proverbial Wall at the 21-mile mark.

Everyone is different and it’s easy enough to adapt the Ironman Triathlon marathon one mile repeats to suit your level of ability and fitness.

Calculate what sort of pace you want to run in the marathon and run your repeats about 30 seconds faster. For example, if your goal is to run a four-hour marathon, you will have to maintain an average race pace of 9:10.

With that in mind, your repeats should be done at about an 8:40 pace.

Try and run the last one in 8:15 to reinforce in your mind that you have more left in the tank for the next workout when you will be adding another repeat.

I used a two hundred meter indoor track and it really helped when it came to running an exact pace.

A quarter-mile(400 meter)track outside would be even better as you do not have to deal with all the corners.

On a quarter-mile outdoor track you will know that you will have to finish each quarter mile in 2:10 in order to be right on your 8:40 pace.

You can always start with two repeats the first week and increase it to three the following week go from there and see how you feel.

There is no reason you can’t rest for 90 seconds or two minutes between repeats, but I believe the less time you leave between repeats the more likely it is that your body will adapt to the constant pace you will be trying to maintain on race-day.

As I have said many times, I am not a coach but I have learned a lot over the years.

I see no reason why I shouldn’t use my IronStruck website to share training methods I personally have had success with.



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About Ray

Ray hasn’t stopped since his first Ironman in Kona, 1984. He has since run 14 more Ironman races, authored 5 Triathlon books, and is now bringing together a passionate community of triathletes. Contact Ray at

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