Marathon Training Question from a newbie

8 messages
02/03/2008 at 22:09

Hello all,

I'm well into a long training programme for my first ever marathon which I'll be doing in mid-May.

My question relates to how long your longest runs should be leading up to the event? I'm using a schedule from Smart Coach on here and it says not to run more than 20 miles. Part of me would like to run the full 26 miles in training just to prove I CAN do the distance, thus giving me a big boost phycologically really. Is this a really stupid thing to do, or should I go for it? As I say, I don't want to do too much and overtrain prior to the event, but I would like to start the race knowing I can do the distance, as I've done it before type thing - so, can anyone help?!?!

Any help anyone can give would be VERY welcome - for info I ran just over 18 miles today and felt pretty good really, so training is well on track, but I just want some advice from experienced runners re my long training runs if poss.


Edited: 02/03/2008 at 22:11
02/03/2008 at 22:12


18 miles is well on the way - 20 , 22, etc would be better, but i cannot see what's wrong with 26 prior to the marathon, as long as it's NOT too close

I myself never use training plans, or never have, but then that's just me

wishing you well

02/03/2008 at 22:22

Brilliant thank you. 18 is my longest to date and I do plan to go higher than this - I'm just building up slowly as I've only done a half before, so I'm just upping the distance bit by bit really.

 Cheers for the advice though - as I say, I've got 11 weeks yet so I think 1 x 26 miler would be good for me mentally, yet will give me a while to recover hopefully so that was my thinking. I just wondered if it was a big no-no really.


02/03/2008 at 22:32

26 miles seems somehow a lot more than 20 even.  Those last six on tired legs cost dearly.  If you have not done a lot of running before this attempt for a marathon you won't know how much it is going to cost you, although your response to the 18 miles at present is some indication.

Legs do toughen up over the years, but first long lengths they may well not take kindly to.  They don't actually hurt, nothing is wrong, but they just don't want to run for a week, or maybe two, or three, or more, afterwards.  That's unfortunate because it interupts your training.  I believe the theory is that you don't want your long runs to leave you in need of a fortnight's recovery.

If you are happy running 10 miles or so within a week of your recent 18, you might well cope with the full 26 provided you keep the pace slow.  If it seems to take you two weeks to recover from 18 miles, I wouldn't push it. 

02/03/2008 at 22:48


Sticks has a point

if your going to do this long run make it fairly soon, or you will not recover

02/03/2008 at 23:14

I think as long as you don't run it too hard you can go upto 26 miles but I wouldn't do it any nearer than 6 weeks (maybe even 8) to race day.

I did a 24.2 mile run in the build up to my last marathon, it was off road hilly and slow (4hrs) and I only stopped because I got back to the car. That was 5 weeks before race day and I did a 19 miler at race pace the following week and two slow 20 milers and a 22 the preceeding 3 weeks.  The 19 miler took a lot out of me and I had to take it really easy during my taper (3.5 weeks) but was ok on race day.

03/03/2008 at 00:21

I'd suggest not running 26 before the race.  For me, the whole point of running your first marathon is running the distance and if you've already run the distance, what's the point in doing the race?

Tens of thousands of people have run marathons with no runs over 20 miles.  If you were ok with 18 miles you'd probably have been fine with 20.  If you're ok with 20, the chances are the crowd and willpower will get you through the last six miles.

Stick to 20, 22 at a push.

03/03/2008 at 10:28
Right! Cheers everyone. Some interesting viewpoints there which has given me some food for thought. I think I might throw a 22 in in 2 weeks time then and see how I feel. My legs actually feel ok this morning (hamstrings are a bit stiff!) so I think I'm doing ok. I was just interested to see how people approached the distance for the first time really, and as I say, I've got some useful info to mull over so cheers again for the replies - much appreciated.

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