How long should your longest training run be for a marathon? To non-runners it often seems logical that you would run at least 26.2 miles in preparation for the race, but this is because non-runners have never put their body through that sort of mileage and the damage done is normally considered more problematic than the benefits gained. Plus, let’s be honest, it can hurt like shit.
Most plans suggest around 20 miles for the longest run, some push up to 22, but normally suggest longer rest after doing so. Which is why I found myself running 4 laps of forest park to nail just under 22 miles last Saturday. This will be my longest training run and from here I’ll step down the miles for four weeks so my legs are (hopefully) fresh on race day.
The first 15 miles of the run went well, the half marathon time was 1h38m which was roughly what I was aiming for, but as soon as I hit 17 miles I smashed into the wall… That bloody wall, it is really annoying. My pace slowed to a shuffle, my whole body hurt, I wondered if I’d even make it to 20 miles. I crawled up hills, my body bent forward like an old man hunched over a stick, just trying to push on, the downhills hurt my quads as they struggled to stretch to move me forwards. But slowly, in the end, I did make it home and avoided being sick before taking a shower sitting down. Two big acheievements in themselves.
My overall time was fine, but if I slow that much on race day then my last few miles will really impact the result for me. I am a div though, running 22 miles in bright sunshine (which, incidentally, left me sun burnt), with only 250ml of gatorade to drink isn’t ideal. I’ve ordered some of these gu gels on recommendation from a good friend. If they don’t work I’m going to stick them in his hair at his wedding, so no loss either way. Energy gels are the stickiest things known to man, stickier even than golden syrup.
Full details of exercise below. Have a good week.
Monday: Yoga. Tuesday: 16.5km cycle, 3.3km running. Wednesday: 11km running. Thursday: Some strength work. Friday: Yoga. Saturday: 35km running
Long run distance by week:
Before sign up: 9 miles (DONE)
Week 1: 12 miles (did 13.5)
Week 2: 14 miles (did 15.6)
Week 3: 16 miles (did 18.6)
Week 4: 18 miles (did 20.2)
Week 5: 20 miles (did 21.75)
Week 6: 22 miles
Week 7: 18 miles
Week 8: 10 miles
Week 9: Race day – 26 miles (and 385 yards).