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BQ And/Or IM?

by Megan
(Wash DC)

Can I train to do a BQ (Boston Qualifier) and an Ironman simultaneously?

Which needs to go first and how far apart do they need to be?

Intelligent Triathlon Training replies:

You can train for a marathon and an Ironman simultaneously, in fact they often complement each other. First a few questions you should ask yourself:

Which is more important?


  • Are you a runner, with lots of run miles in your legs?
  • Are you a runner aiming to finish an IM or a triathlete aiming to get a BQ?

These will help sort your priority and may help decided which order.

The training for the two can complement each other. For instance gaining cardiovascular fitness is not specific to mode of exercise.

It is not uncommon for good runners moving to triathlon to improve their run performance. We coach a few elites with run backgrounds, who now run quicker than they did as pure runners. For instance one came to us with a PB of 30:20 for 10KM. After a year of triathlon training, building aerobic endurance with lots of bike miles, he recently ran 29:35.

If you have the priority as the IM then the BQ can act as preparation for the IM. So you can use the swim and bike to help build fitness for the BQ, then maybe use the time between to focus more on the bike and swim as you know you have the marathon in the bag. In this case you might leave 8-12 weeks between them. Enough to recover, get a few weeks swim/bike training in while maintaining a little running.

Whereas if the BQ is the priority I would suggest that you focus on your performance in this and use less swim and bike training. Once the BQ is over use the form from this and try to maintain some run load, but have a longer gap so you can get enough swim/bike training in. Using something like 12-16 weeks between them. It will depend upon how much time you have to train and where your strengths and weaknesses lie.

If you are a good swim-biker, then you may not need too much training between the events. However if running is the strength then you may want more time between them to get some training in or you would use the time before the BQ to work on swim/bike and run safe in the knowledge you will make it through the BQ.

If you provide me with a little more info on what the main aim is and what your strengths and weaknesses are then it would be easier to answer more specifically.

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