All training plans I have seen hold it as an article of faith that one must never run over distance (26.2 miles) in any one training run during marathon preperation. However a few months ago an article in Runners World suggested that it may be worth trying and could lead to a faster time.
Has anyone tried it and if so was there any benefit?
I have read that as well and am going to try it for a marathon I shall be running next year. Having said that, I'm tempted to run a marathon earlier in the year. It'll be about 6 months before I'll be at that kind of mileage though. It will just be an experiment for me.
There are plenty (I say plenty loosely) of runners who run marathons on an almost weekly basis. I use the word run wisely. Not race.
I do agree that you need to have a high weekly mileage and a few years running experience and fitness.
It's probably too big a committment for your average marathon runner to run the whole distance before race day. But I can't see how it wouldn't be beneficial to do so.
I have done the distance in training but was already a sub 3 hour runner and we did it in less than 3 hours and was doing 100 plus anyway - Was the thinking a few years ago when I was running competitively that you should do a time on feet run rather than distance? just to get used being on your feet that long.
I have always done the full distance as a training run. Only started running at the age of 49 and did my first marathon in my 50th year (London)
Why did I do it? It seemed odd to me that the first time you would experience the full distance would be in the actual race. All the advice said not to do it, but I was out on one of my long training runs (20 miles) and I just decided that I wanted to do the full 26.2.
Advantages - if you have never done a marathon how do you know what pace to set? Having done it is a massive boost in confidence and a benchmark for the actual race. It also allows you to get your fuelling sorted.
Disadvantages - none as long as you don't do it too close to race date. For London I usually do it some time in early Feb.
Note: It should just be seen as your weekly long run in your training schedule - if it takes too much out of you so that you can't complete your schedule for that week you shouldn't do it.
For my first London I was aiming for sub 4. I did my training 26.2 on a much hillier course in 03:23 and the race in 03:12. The training time gave me the confidence to go for it on race day
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