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13401 Views 12 Replies Latest reply: Dec 8, 2010 8:33 AM by Rodrigo Soto
fldogwalker Pro 68 posts since
Jan 25, 2010
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Sep 29, 2010 11:25 AM


I just completed my first HIM this past weekend in Augusta.  Very fun and I can’t wait for the next one.. and the one after that.. etc.


One thought that popped into my head was if racing a 70.3 triathlon or a full marathon is more challenging/difficult.


My feelings are that the training for a HIM is more time consuming and taxing on the body but although the HIM takes a bit longer to complete, the full marathon is more taxing on the body on race day.


I’m on the fence and would say they are about equally difficult/challenging if you are comparing apples to apples as far as weather conditions and course difficulty.


I completed an ultra marathon a few months ago and that was by FAR the most difficult thing I have ever done.. but the main reason it was so hard was the 100 degree heat index.


Anyway..  it is something worth discussing.


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  • MomsTri2 Rookie 2 posts since
    Sep 29, 2010
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    1. Sep 29, 2010 12:24 PM (in response to fldogwalker)

    You know.  I thought the same thing.  I did my first 70.3 about three weeks ago and I thought the marathon was a lot harder.  I have a question for you....I'm considering doing a marathon in 3 weeks.  I feel like now is as good a time as any to do it (considering all the training I've been doing).  I was planning on doing a 18-20 miler this weekend to see how I feel.  Am I being too ambitious???  Thanks.

  • honguito Pro 135 posts since
    Dec 24, 2007
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    2. Sep 29, 2010 7:10 PM (in response to fldogwalker)

    Dear friend !


    I think most of it, if not all, is in your head. While during a 70.3 you are "entertained" by three different sports, during a marathon you focus on one single aim. During the swim and the bike leg of a triathlon you don't have too much time to meditate, while during a long run such as a half-marathon or a marathon a lot is going on in your head. At least it happens to me.

    And, of course, the impact of constant running (and training for it) on your body during a marathon is much higher than splitting it up between the three sports.

    That's my experience.


    Regards and enjoy the suffering




  • Moriates Legend 292 posts since
    Jul 19, 2008
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    3. Sep 30, 2010 6:51 AM (in response to fldogwalker)

    I say do what you love and want to.  If you do not love it, change it.


    If you trained just for a marathon, you would think a 70.3 is harder and visa versa.  It is all about how you trained.


    I personally not a huge fan of just running so I love triathlons better.  That would make it harder for me to run and train for a marathon only.



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  • sarah_sharon Rookie 1 posts since
    Jan 31, 2009
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    5. Oct 7, 2010 10:05 AM (in response to fldogwalker)

    After completing 17 marathons and 2 IM's I feel a marathon is harder than a full IM. I've had several friends say the same thing and we can't figure it out. My marathon pace in a full IM is only about 15min slower than a regular marathon, but slowing down that much makes a difference. I feel better during the race, immediately after and am less sore the days following! Go figure! Maybe it's because I do a better job at nutrition throughout the IM race than the marathon. I don't know.


    I will say the tri-training is so much better on the body than straight running. After 2 years of IM training I'm back to just running and my old running injuries are creeping back. I'm keeping 2 days of biking and swimming in my training to keep the running injuries at bay.

  • drmiles85 Pro 84 posts since
    Nov 5, 2008
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    6. Oct 7, 2010 10:44 AM (in response to fldogwalker)

    I've only done one of each, but I have to say the 70.3 was harder.  I didn't have any real soreness issues with either, but the day of the event I felt like I was going to die after the tri.  It probably had something to do with lack of proper nutrition (I was in the early stages of discovering I was lactose intolerant, which led to being sick all day), so I'll have to try again next year.  Actually I'm planning on doing a marathon a few weeks after my HIM next year, so I should be able to compare pretty directly.

  • fultonca Amateur 19 posts since
    Dec 14, 2007
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    7. Oct 11, 2010 7:36 AM (in response to drmiles85)

    I'd have to default with the Marathon being the toughest and most painful.  After about 10 marathons, two 1/2 IM and one Full IM, the marathons took the most toll out of me, of all the races.  For the full IM, your running pace is much slower which makes a big difference.  But the IM is more rewarding at the finish.  Then again...alot depends on how you execute the races and if you go above lactate threshold to early (i.e before the last couple miles)

  • JP1983JP Amateur 15 posts since
    Nov 21, 2008
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    8. Oct 14, 2010 6:08 PM (in response to fldogwalker)

    I thank you for this post. I actually completed my second marathon a week ago and I'm registered for my first HIM next May. I started running about 3 years ago and this is my first season with tri's. All of you that posted before are obviously much more experienced than myself. After my marathons, I was really sore for a few days after but soon felt better. The post about the nutrition improving your recovery appears very me atleast. I admit that my nutrition is sub-par...especially for an endurance athlete. I plan on running another marathon before the HIM in May and I am already changing my nutrition and eating. Hopefully I can be as insightful as you all in May and give my take on the topic with a little more experience under my belt.


    I think it is very interesting that the consensus is saying the marathon is more of the challenge. Again, I know I have barely any experience but I would think that coming off a 56 mile bike ride and then running into a half marathon would be exhausting (at the moment, I cant even thing about a 112 bike into 26.2 run!).


    Thanks again for the post!!!



  • toeheads Rookie 1 posts since
    Mar 21, 2008
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    9. Nov 5, 2010 7:18 AM (in response to fldogwalker)

    I think the difference may be how you are approaching a half ironman.  It seems to me that most people have concrete goal times for a marathon and they train for it and try to stick to it.  Not so true for the person attempting their first HIM.  Their plan is "to finish."  The plan should be "to race."  Goal time for the swim, bike and run.  If you raced the HIM the way you race a marathon, you would feel that they were equally hard because you would be giving the same race effort in both.  A race is meant to be raced with 100% effort every time.  Otherwise it is just a training day!

  • Anthony5450 Amateur 25 posts since
    Nov 17, 2010
    Currently Being Moderated
    10. Dec 1, 2010 5:18 PM (in response to fldogwalker)

    I would definitely agree that a marathon is harder on the body. Because of the impact - and the fact that most runners deplete their glycogen stores around the 20 mile mark - it's so difficult to complete.


    Great thought provoking question!

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  • TEAM GRIFFEN Pro 26 posts since
    Jul 17, 2008
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    11. Dec 2, 2010 9:35 PM (in response to fldogwalker)

    I have completed over 33 events including IronMan and Marathon. All of the events are tough like H@LL but a Full marathon is harder then a Half IronMan because you don't have to actually put heel to pavement for 26 miles as you would a full marathon. Of course you have some say something different, but it depends a lot on other variables like weather and terrain. At the end of the day we all must finish and the rewards is the that coveted medal and that shirt. Wait a minute Ironman, we spend $300 to practically drown, get hit by bugs in our face at 30+ mph, and stumble crawl to a finish. Well that's a just a great way to say we are all special people who love pain and beat ourselves close to oblivion.


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  • Rodrigo Soto Rookie 2 posts since
    Nov 7, 2010
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    12. Dec 8, 2010 8:33 AM (in response to fldogwalker)

    I would say Marathon is harder, I've done 70.3, marathon and full IM, the only running factor is key to why the marathon is harder and normally people finish more beat up than on a 70.3 (I would not say full IM as well), like some of you already said only running brings too many injuries to the table while having the 3 sports make the perfect complement to keep you healthy and strong, I liked the marathon experience but I am definitely a Triathlete all the way, and if you've done a 70.3 wait till you do the Full IM, now thats just Fabulous.


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