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A marathon every third day

Running at our Pre-Kona camp in Jeju, South Korea.

With the exploits of the Bird (Daniela Ryf) producing arguably the best long course triathlon season yet seen, there was a lot of media and, interviews about the training she was doing.

Some of these were taken out of context and so I hope to clear up some of the printed statements about her training for our followers. The ‘I ran a marathon every 3rd day’ quote in the Slowtwitch Hunting the Million Dollar Payday article sent many racing to their keyboards about how hard the training must have been.

ST: Going into Kona, I noticed that you had never gone faster than 3:07 at Ironman marathons at Switzerland, Kona and Frankfurt. With Mirinda Carfrae a proven 2:50 Kona marathoner, it seemed you needed to run under 3 hours in 2015. How did Sutton transform you?

Daniela: Training. In St. Moritz, I ran a marathon every 3rd day during a phase of 2 weeks. So I was ready to go under 3 hours.

While very proficient, English is still Dani’s third language, so I will provide a broader explanation of how this works in context of the training.

Yes, we did run a marathon distance every third day. However, it must be stated that the distance was completed over a 24 hour period. We did not run a marathon non stop in any part of the preparation.

To address the question. There was no need to ‘transform’ anything. Unlike some athletes who I have prescribed over distance marathon runs to in the past, Dani is a runner of high ability and doesn’t need to complete that kind of training. In fact not high, extraordinarily high. I think this should also be made clear to people under the impression that the run may be the ‘weaker’ leg. It’s arguably Daniela’s strongest. She can run like a scalded cat when she has to.

33:23 run split to win WTS Seoul

One can see here on a very strong ITU course where Dani’s bike and run strength rises to the top. Out kicking the best in the world, including two Olympic champions, over the last

kilometre. Unfortunately ITU make sure courses like this are close to non-existent and so her run ability over a hilly course was less showcased than it should have been.

But when you’ve run 33 minutes something for 10km it should not be seen as arrogance to suggest you’re ready to go sub 3 for a marathon when you’re fit. It’s being modest.

So where does the broken marathon every third day come from?

The number of steps to be run at Kona still need to be accounted for in one’s training and the body must be adapted to that physical level of eccentric pounding. So in the last third of her preparation we decided we would accomplish a marathon distance on her legs at least once a week in the last 8 weeks in preparation phase.

This was a minimum of two times a week.

What form did it take?

It was done in three forms:

1) As normal marathon training. Two runs. A long run ​followed by an evening recovery run. The second run to complete the distance needed to get to 42km.

2) A split ‘Triple Run’ day with one of the runs (usually the third) done on a treadmill. These were sets of 1 hour and would involve running 1-15 km ‘as you feel’ with pick ups. An interval or fartlek workout and also a non-stop run on the treadmill. Again ‘as you feel’.

3) Most likely the most controversial, but in my mind the smartest. At times when we could see Dani was too tired to do one of the above we would break the run up into multiple shorter sessions.

Within the third form we had two different models:

If feeling OK the day would be a Moses Kiptanui day.

AM: Wake up run with 5 x 6-8 seconds acceleration pick up.

Mid morning: Hill rep session. Short, but strength recruitment for the next session.

Afternoon: Fartlek session above race pace. Nothing super quick, just more accelerations in between the warm up or warm down.

PM: Non stop between 30-40 minutes (max) usually on run machine to ​finish the day.


If totally tired we would do the four runs all as easy recovery. This was not done very much.

This four runs a day system was very beneficial to my mind as we didn’t do any other training on bike or swimming. It allowed for complete rest on arms and bike leg loading.

I’m sure most readers would agree with me that if I’d I asked them to run 30-45 min four times in a day they could complete this with minimal effort. So it was for Daniela, who would wake up recovered and ready to hammer the swim and bike the next day.

To put the above into more context we at do not believe in the need for females to run every day. In fact we encourage the run ‘every other day’ approach even for the pros.

This curtails over-use injuries and the stress fractures that the female athlete is more likely to confront than the men. So we make no apologies for the fact that on run day we run and we run frequent.

However a broken ‘marathon’ day is nearly exclusively followed by a swim and bike day with no eccentric pounding on the body at all.

Will she race at Dubai?

For our supporters yes, Daniela Ryf will be participating in Dubai. However it will not be with the focus of completing another Triple Crown in mind. Rather a support and appreciation for her sponsors Bahrain Endurance and the Prince’s initiative in triathlon.

She started training on January 1 to prepare to cover the distance and this race will follow with a full break of three months. We will then restart her career in line with the new race calendar as a result of the new innovations in the sport. A small break and a recalibration of her goals and career will ensure that she has the best chance of continuing to compete at the best of her ability for years to come.

In Ironman physical burnout is a real phenomenon. We at Trisutto address this and make no apologies in making the best decisions for the longevity of all our valued customers, from World Champ to our beginner groups.

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