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Long Runs During Marathon Training

Long Runs During Marathon Training

Submitted by: Curt Shryack

There seems to be so many theories about long runs during marathon training. How often should you run? How far to run? How many long runs? How fast? It is my turn to give some opinions and theories about this topic.

I believe that building mileage for a marathon is the biggest robber of performance. Training for weeks and weeks plus adding mileage leaves a person worn out. Weeks and weeks of long runs add to this exhaustion.

I consider a long run to be over 15 miles in length. When the length starts approaching 20 miles even more stress is added to your training. I prefer to run long runs two weeks in a row. Resting the third week and taking one additional day of complete rest.

Example: Week 1 - Sunday Long
Week 2 - Sunday Long
Week 3 - Sunday Rest, Monday Rest

The next controversial topic is how far to run? My own experience from running 15 marathons has taught me that I need to run one 23 or 24 mile long run in training approximately three weeks before the actual race. I recommend this because, of the confidence that I receive and the time spent on my feet. Every time I tried to run just 20 mile long runs I always hit the wall at 20 miles. Going beyond 20 miles and increasing to 23 or 24 miles always prevented the wall form happening.

Pacing for marathon long runs should be very comfortable. The reason for your marathon long runs is purely aerobic. Other aspects of your marathon training will address marathon pacing etc. I recommend using a heart rate monitor for all training, especially during long runs. Keep your heart rate below 75% of maximum. Going above 75% will lengthen the recovery time of your long run.

How many long runs? I prefer to train 20 weeks for a marathon. I don’t believe training plans less than this are very effective. The body needs time to adapt and become stronger. Most injuries incurred during shorter training plans are caused by adding to much stress in a short amount of time.

I will not begin my marathon training until I have finished training for a half marathon in the early spring. After running a half marathon my long runs will be over 15 miles. This is a good point to begin adding runs over 18 miles. I will try to run 6 or 7 long runs of 20 miles during marathon training. My last long run of 23 or 24 miles will be done three weeks before marathon race day. Then I will begin my taper.

About the Author: Author of Fatiuge Nutrition and Endurance Exercise, Run2Fast and Ultimate Training. http://www.everything-running.com

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