Long runs - best practice

Too many long runs close together

12 messages
03/03/2009 at 14:58

I've already done a couple of races in the past few weeks and am scheduled to do a  number of long runs...

  • 22 Feb - Sussex Beacon Half Marathon 
  • 01 March - Cloud 9 Hill 
  • 09 March - Banbury 15
  • 22 March - A20 17.2
  • 29 March - Cranleigh 21 

Was just talking to a colleague who's previously done 2 x marathons and he's concerned that I maybe doing the 17 and 21 miles too close to each other and risk injury.  Can anyone advise as to the best options?  Should I potentially do 17 miles on 13 March, and a shorter run (half marathon?) on 22 March instead before doing the 21 miles on 29 March? 



03/03/2009 at 15:19
Probably depends on how you run them - i.e. treat them as genuine long SLOW runs (yes) or race them (no). I'm no expert but I can't see any harm in your schedule so long as you aren't intending to race them...I'm using Cranleigh myself as part of pre-FLM build up and would also plan on doing 17-18 the week before, like you.
cougie    pirate
03/03/2009 at 15:23
If you are just running them - then that would be OK - but if you race them - then that wouldnt be good for you.

I think the schedule looks a bit heavy there - is this your first Marathon ? If it were me - I'd probably drop a couple of them - you want to save some energy for FLM.

See how you feel after the weekend with 3 races in 3 weeks ?
03/03/2009 at 15:30

Susan, thats a lot of races in a short period of time. I suspect like most of us once you get to the start line you will race them and if thats the case not only do you risk injury but you certainly risk burning out before London. A very well respected coach told me a 20 mile race is as bad as a marathon and he would leave 8 weeks clear between a 20m race and a marathon.

 Would you race 2 marathons in 28 days? thats virtually what you are setting out to do here...as well as a 17m race a week before...it looks too much to me but you may be a lot more robust than most?

cougie    pirate
03/03/2009 at 15:32
OTF - thats probably why the Stafford 20 is about 7 weeks away from FLM. I take 2 week gaps between 20 milers - but thats just steady runs - not racing them.
04/03/2009 at 12:16

Hey Susan,

I second what has been said. It you think about your fitness, what you are trying to do is peak for the end of April. If you were to plot fitness on a graph against time, then a lovely line starting low and generally rising up, so that at any point in time you are slightly fitter than the day before. Except of course, that after hard sessions (and I include races here) you may be slightly less fit than the day before due to tiredness, but when the tiredness goes you come back stronger than ever (theory!).  

Problem with races longer than the half marathon distance is that they start to take more and more out of you if you are racing them hard - so you have to have more and more days of easy running to recover, from them, the dip in your fitness lasts longer so it takes longer and longer before you start getting fitter again and your depleted state leaves you more exposed to injury & illness.  Cut one of the races out and go for a nice slow plod instead - you'll still get the long run benefit without pushing yourself so hard.

04/03/2009 at 12:27

Rule of thumb is that it takes 1 day to recover from each mile you race. If you are racing all of the above flat out you will be zonked. However if you are just using the races as more interesting alternatives than long runs on your tod, then as long as you are sensible you should be ok.

You could try some strategies such as doing the half marathon at marathon pace, doing the 21 miler slowly with the last 5 miles at marathon pace etc.. This will ensure you get something from each race without taking too much out of you.

My marathon pb (2:50) came 3 weeks after racing a 20 miler (2:07). I am planning on doing the same this year as I reckon I can recover in time.

04/03/2009 at 13:29

What they said!  Did you run the HM and Cloud 9 flat out?  How did/do you feel afterwards?  The longer the race and closer to the big day, the more dangerous it would be to treat it as a race in itself.  Even if you don't end up injuring yourself, the quality of your other training sessions will suffer.

Agree with jmc that you've got some excellent opportunities coming up for practising your target marathon pace under race conditions.  I ran Cranleigh last year as warm-up to a marathon 3 weeks later, so avoided running it flat-out.  As you're probably aware, Cranleigh is a 9 mile lap followed by 2x 6mile laps.  I used the first 9 miles as a progressive warm-up, little faster than an easy LR, then ran 12 miles @ target race pace - which I'm glad to say felt very manageable and gave me a lot of confidence for the big day.  But whatever you decide, err on the side of caution as you're not going to increase fitness a great deal by racing flat-out at this stage.  I'm not sure I would've enjoyed running Cranleigh if I'd run a HM the week before, for example.

05/03/2009 at 10:13

Distance wise your schedule seems a logical progression and if you feel comfortable treating them as training runs rather than full-on races then go for it.

What would worry me is that they seem geographically quite spread out, so for each race you are probably adding at average of a couple of hours travelling time each way, so they are taking a lot more time out of your day than a local training run would.  You should also consider whether travelling long distances back is conducive to warming down properly.

05/03/2009 at 14:05

Just jumping in to the thread here.

 I think, reading the comments I have worked out the answer to my question which is this. Why do training plans general peak at 20 miles, when we run over 26.  Is it to avoid injury and / or allow plenty of time for tapering? or is there some other scientific reason?

 I am running the FLM for the first time and am following a plan and personally won't run more than 20 miles on a couple of occassions about a week or two apart before tapering. So it is just idle curiosity really.

Whislt writing, does any body have any tips on taking on fluids over this distance. Is it the done thing to load up early in the race, or does a little and often work better?


06/03/2009 at 13:19

Generally because there is no point.  A training run over 20 miles will probably take the same sort of time as your race time, so that should give you the fitness and also the confidence that you can go the distance. Especially if you do that 20 on your own. If you can run 20 on your own then the boost of the day will cover everything except the "how fast" question. Now I find a half-marathon tells me enough about how fit I am in terms of pacing, but others here obviously like the confidence of doing a 20 - which for me meant I couldn't do important (for me) quality sessions very well for a couple of weeks.

 Re  fluid, you want to make sure you are hydrated before you start. Drinking the day before & up to 1hr before the race. Then stop, settle down, and drink a little bit more in the 10 minutes before the start. What works for me is having a drink every 3 or 4 miles on race day. Loading up early on will probably just make you feel bloated and could lead to hyponatremia.

Good article: http://www.runnersworld.com/article/0,7120,s6-242-302--8785-0,00.html 

06/03/2009 at 19:22

Wow, I wasn't expecting this many responses especially such good quality ones as well, thank you all!

Freemers – I was thinking of treating them as training runs and not ‘race’ them

Cougie -  it’s my first London but did Stockholm a few years ago – however I got injured and ended up doing aqua jogging so never actually got round to doing more than half a marathon for training.

Onthefells – good point, I plan on just running them but know may get carried away and end up racing them… due to work commitments I haven’t been consistent with my short runs either in the past fortnight so aware I risk injury

Younginheart – good points… take on board that I should take them slow

Jmc – impressive times! Thanks for rule of thumb.

PhilPub – Cloud 9 was my first off road – after the first big hill I loved it! I pushed myself and was strangely surprised apart from some soreness on the day didn’t really get DOMS as I did with the Brighton Half, which I felt pretty ropey afterwards.  I’d done 13 miles with the club about 3 weeks before and had felt absolutely fine…

Quixall Crossett – yeah, I do see what you mean about the runs being geographically spread out so much so I’ve booked myself into a hotel on Saturday so I don’t have to spend a couple of hours getting there! Of course still have to drive back… Coming back from Brighton and stuck in the car may have contributed towards the stiffness

I forgot to add that I've also entered the Paddock Wood half marathon on which is a week after the Cranleigh 21...

So... what am I planning after having read through and considered everyone's expertise and point of view. Well, I’m definitely going to be doing Banbury this weekend and the A20.  In terms of Cranleigh I may give that a miss depending on how I’m feeling after 17.2 miles the week before.

Thanks again for all your advice guys, I'll definitely be posting here again!


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