How long should your longest long run before a marathon be?

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Gabe1
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How long should your longest long run before a marathon be?

Post by Gabe1 » Sat Sep 20, 2014 1:15 pm

While I completely trust Tinman's program and judgement, I still cannot help feeling a bit scared that my longest long run (big workout) before my marathon will be only 2 hours and 30 minutes. For me, a rather slow runner, I can only manage 32 kilometers in 2,5 hours, without straining too much. I watch my friends that are training for the same marathon and see that they are doing 35, 37, 38 and even 40 k in training, and I get a bit worried; will 32 k be enough, or will I bonk in the last part of the race?

What are your experiences? How do you train? Please share!

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Re: How long should your longest long run before a marathon be?

Post by Captainblood » Sat Sep 20, 2014 1:35 pm

I have never run a marathon.  But 32 km is 19.88 miles.  A long run of 20 miles is about as standard as you can get for training for a marathon.  It doesn't mean it is right, but legions of runners have run marathons with a longest run of 20 miles.

A lot of bright minds feel that running longer than 2.5 hours is counterproductive.  Lots of risk and little to gain.

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Re: How long should your longest long run before a marathon be?

Post by dilluh » Sat Sep 20, 2014 2:38 pm

First, you are right to continue to trust Tinman's judgement. Don't deviate. Second, it's ok to feel "behind." There will always be people who are doing big miles for the sake of doing big miles to train for the marathon. Is it the right way? Hard to say because you probably don't know the specifics of their training, either. You just see the big number and think it must be better. I can tell you that with only 9 weeks to go before my marathon I had not even hit 19 miles yet for the long run while people around me were pounding out 22 milers on a regular basis. I did not worry for several reasons. (1) I trust Tinman and I know he's coached a lot of people to successful marathons and (2) I knew that the quality that was being added to that 18 mile long run was adding significantly to the training density of that workout, i.e., it was "worth" a lot more than just 18 miles. It was specific for what is needed for the marathon. (3) Part of marathon training is not burning out or injuring yourself before you get to the start line! Remember that.

Keep on the path! It's ok to have doubts but I would say you need to see this through the way Tinman devised it.

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Re: How long should your longest long run before a marathon be?

Post by dilluh » Sat Sep 20, 2014 2:43 pm

[quote="dilluh"]
First, you are right to continue to trust Tinman's judgement. Don't deviate. Second, it's ok to feel "behind." There will always be people who are doing big miles for the sake of doing big miles to train for the marathon. Is it the right way? Hard to say because you probably don't know the specifics of their training, either. You just see the big number and think it must be better. I can tell you that with only 9 weeks to go before my marathon I had not even hit 19 miles yet for the long run while people around me were pounding out 22 milers on a regular basis. I did not worry for several reasons. (1) I trust Tinman and I know he's coached a lot of people to successful marathons and (2) I knew that the quality that was being added to that 18 mile long run was adding significantly to the training density of that workout, i.e., it was "worth" a lot more than just 18 miles. It was specific for what is needed for the marathon. (3) Part of marathon training is not burning out or injuring yourself before you get to the start line! Remember that.

Keep on the path! It's ok to have doubts but I would say you need to see this through the way Tinman devised it.
[/quote]

Addendum to that: I didn't hit 20 miles until only 6 weeks before the marathon. I feel confident at this point (2 weeks to go) that I am where I need to be.

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Re: How long should your longest long run before a marathon be?

Post by Gabe1 » Sat Sep 20, 2014 3:17 pm

Thanks guys, good stuff!

My problem has always been that I am a bit unsure of myself and look at what others do a lot. And therefore it is such a great thing to have a good coach that tells me what to do, because then I am sure that I'm not overdoing stuff.

As you say, Captainblood, there are so many great marathon runners that never ran longer than 20 miles in training. Carlos Lopez is my favorite example. But at the same time, when you see so many people around you going for 3 hour runs - it's hard to sit tight and believe in what you are doing.

Dilluh, thanks for your thoughts. I guess you are spot on. I only see what people post in their training logs. But I don't really know how hard they strained and how much they had to suffer to run those 38 kilometers in moderate pace...

At the same time you have guys like Canova speaking about specific training for the marathon, and that you should do super long runs at 95% of marathon pace etc... Seems like most people these days follow Canovas advice.

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Re: How long should your longest long run before a marathon be?

Post by dkggpeters » Sat Sep 20, 2014 3:55 pm

I have done marathons fine where 20 miles was my longest run.  During my Boston training I didn't do any long sustained mp runs and I was worried about it.  I was fine in the race.

Sometimes with the marathon, no matter what you do you always wonder if you did enough.  Even if you ran 25 milers you would still be wondering if you did enough if them or worry about some other part of your training.  I always go into the marathon nervous as it is a race in which a lot can go wrong.  I at least trust in my training to know I am fine.  I learned a lot from my Boston build up.

Trust your training and worry about other things.

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Re: How long should your longest long run before a marathon be?

Post by Tinman » Sat Sep 20, 2014 6:27 pm

Gabe -

Renato Canova coaches runners who cover 35 km in training runs in 2 hours (or less). They aren't out there beating up their body's as much as the typical 3-4 hour marathon runner who runs 20 milers!
Last edited by Tinman on Sat Sep 20, 2014 6:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How long should your longest long run before a marathon be?

Post by dilluh » Sun Sep 21, 2014 9:42 am

[quote="Gabe1"]
At the same time you have guys like Canova speaking about specific training for the marathon, and that you should do super long runs at 95% of marathon pace etc... Seems like most people these days follow Canovas advice.
[/quote]

There was an article in Runners World or Running Times a few years back that outlined the "revolutionary" methods that Canova employed for his stable of east Africans. I am sure there were 3-4 hour marathoners who were eating it up because it was new and shiny and, darn, those Canova runners seem to be winning everything. This must be the magical marathon system! Context, context, context. The guys he trains are on a different fitness planet than the rest of us. This is similar to the arguments about how long one can train at LT for a single session. LT for an elite is HM pace. LT for a beginner runner might be as low as 12k pace. Those are very different regimes.
Last edited by dilluh on Sun Sep 21, 2014 11:29 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: How long should your longest long run before a marathon be?

Post by Tinman » Sun Sep 21, 2014 11:33 am

An elite marathon runner who does two 50km runs during his buildup for the marathon only runs 2.5 hours for each run. Most of his "long" runs are 2 hours. Think about that!
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Re: How long should your longest long run before a marathon be?

Post by Gabe1 » Sun Sep 21, 2014 1:05 pm

Yes of course that makes sense.

I guess you can also make the claim that the marathon is 42,2 km, no matter if you're an elite or if you run it in 5 hours. And there is probably a psychological advantage to know that you've covered 38 km in training without bonking. And I guess this is the main reason why so many slow runners run 3 hour long runs.

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Re: How long should your longest long run before a marathon be?

Post by Schebo » Sun Sep 21, 2014 1:43 pm

[quote="Gabe1"]
Yes of course that makes sense.

I guess you can also make the claim that the marathon is 42,2 km, no matter if you're an elite or if you run it in 5 hours. And there is probably a psychological advantage to know that you've covered 38 km in training without bonking. And I guess this is the main reason why so many slow runners run 3 hour long runs.
[/quote]
My brother-in-law ran his first marathon this year at age 43. He started running 2 years ago and he got this idea that he was going to run one. I figured that it would take him at least 4 hours, so I had him run a "traditional" long run of 2 hours every other week and every other week he would mix jogging and brisk walking for 4 hours. This way he would be on his feet for a long time without completely destroying himself. Note that this is not the same as Jeff Galloway´s "run-walk" program, where he claims that everybody could benefit from taking walking breaks (even in races) - even fast runners. This was just a question of making him fit to complete the marathon.

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Re: How long should your longest long run before a marathon be?

Post by dilluh » Mon Sep 22, 2014 9:55 am

Remember how I mentioned that I felt "behind" because other people I know targeting a marathon the week after mine were already doing 22-23 milers? Yeah, that guy just burned out with 3 weeks to go and isn't running the Chicago marathon. I really think he's suffering CNS but he has the bravado mentality that this is the way it should be - you need to be on the brink of exhaustion to run a good marathon. He literally asked on Facebook how he could "get his grind back" to get in the swing of things for his prep for Boston 2015. I told him that he's asking the wrong question. He won't listen but I private messaged him to say that he needs to take a little time off, get a lot of sleep, eat well and ease back into it with significantly lower mileage. Also, he's now bitten by the marathon bug so I think he'll be missing some good training stimulus this fall by not doing some 5k/10k and short trail racing. Instead he will "grind" for the marathon prep.

Don't grind - train intelligently. Workouts should be progressive and within yourself - not some mountain you try to bravely conquer.

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Re: How long should your longest long run before a marathon be?

Post by dkggpeters » Mon Sep 22, 2014 10:12 am

[quote="dilluh"]
Remember how I mentioned that I felt "behind" because other people I know targeting a marathon the week after mine were already doing 22-23 milers? Yeah, that guy just burned out with 3 weeks to go and isn't running the Chicago marathon. I really think he's suffering CNS but he has the bravado mentality that this is the way it should be - you need to be on the brink of exhaustion to run a good marathon. He literally asked on Facebook how he could "get his grind back" to get in the swing of things for his prep for Boston 2015. I told him that he's asking the wrong question. He won't listen but I private messaged him to say that he needs to take a little time off, get a lot of sleep, eat well and ease back into it with significantly lower mileage. Also, he's now bitten by the marathon bug so I think he'll be missing some good training stimulus this fall by not doing some 5k/10k and short trail racing. Instead he will "grind" for the marathon prep.

Don't grind - train intelligently. Workouts should be progressive and within yourself - not some mountain you try to bravely conquer.
[/quote]

I want to go into taper wanting to do more and still feeling hungry.  AP405 stated it nicely in a post about his sub 2:40 training as follows: "Subjectively, if you are relieved that the taper has arrived, you may have gone overboard during your buildup.  Fortunately, Tinman pressed the right buttons in my training so that I was almost sorry to see the training come to an end!"

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Re: How long should your longest long run before a marathon be?

Post by Gabe1 » Mon Sep 22, 2014 10:28 am

Thanks guys, all these thoughts just makes so much sense when you think about them. But I still cannot get out of my head that so many runners out there never even consider these things! It's amazing! Of course you are supposed to go into taper reasonably fresh, hungry for more etc, it's a no brainer! Still 95% of all runners hammer themselves to the ground before marathons. I come to think of a few quotes I read from Alberto Salazar a little while back:

“That’s what distance running is, you’re always tired, but you still hit the key workouts…”

“…It’s hard training, you’re supposed to be tired; as long as you hit the hard workouts and are progressing, how you feel on the easy days, it doesn’t matter.”

“Hard training gets ya dead”

“You can’t be overtraining if you are improving on your hard workouts.”

I guess these kind of statements doesn't help people to start train more reasonable.....

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Re: How long should your longest long run before a marathon be?

Post by dilluh » Mon Sep 22, 2014 11:22 am

[quote="Gabe1"]
Thanks guys, all these thoughts just makes so much sense when you think about them. But I still cannot get out of my head that so many runners out there never even consider these things! It's amazing! Of course you are supposed to go into taper reasonably fresh, hungry for more etc, it's a no brainer! Still 95% of all runners hammer themselves to the ground before marathons. I come to think of a few quotes I read from Alberto Salazar a little while back:

“That’s what distance running is, you’re always tired, but you still hit the key workouts…”

“…It’s hard training, you’re supposed to be tired; as long as you hit the hard workouts and are progressing, how you feel on the easy days, it doesn’t matter.”

“Hard training gets ya dead”

“You can’t be overtraining if you are improving on your hard workouts.”

I guess these kind of statements doesn't help people to start train more reasonable.....
[/quote]

Again, Salazar and his athletes are in a different world compared to the masses. I think this is part of the problem the guy I mentioned is having. I am not certain that he's being directly coached but he is certainly at least being advised about training by the coach of the premiere training club here in Austin. While I'm sure he's a perfectly fine coach for people who are sub-elite, I get the sense that he just turns it down one notch and calls that good training for those with significantly less talent than sub-elite. From what I understand it's pretty high mileage-based training and I don't think this guy can handle the miles plus the workouts with any consistency. Add to that the heat/humidity factor of marathon training through the summer and the writing was on the wall that this wasn't going to end well.

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