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How Far Ought to You Run Earlier than a Marathon or Half Marathon?


As race day will get nearer, you’re beginning to fear in case your longest long term is lengthy sufficient. Questioning if 10 miles is a long term? Do you want to run greater than 20 miles? How far must you run earlier than a marathon or a half marathon is a crucial query.

As a operating coach, I spend loads of time speaking you out of doing MORE than it is best to. Which could not be what you’d anticipate to listen to, however it’s true. Doing extra usually mentally makes us really feel higher, however on the expense of our efficiency.

Right now we’re going to dive in to the distances you want to full and why they’re sufficient. How far you run earlier than a half marathon or how far you run earlier than a marathon are depending on plenty of components we’ll talk about.

Plus we’re going to bust some myths like you possibly can’t run over 3 hours!

We’re going to sort out this query for each distances since you’ll see loads of overlap!

How Lengthy Ought to Your Longest Lengthy Run Be?

Nearly all of half marathon coaching plans for rookies will high out at 10 miles and for marathon runners 18-20 miles. Does that imply it’s the longest long term it is best to do?

The explanations that operating coaches so usually advocate you comply with a plan from begin to end is that all of them construct in direction of peak runs barely in a different way.

I’ve in contrast the high marathon coaching plans right here.

  • You’ll be able to see that whereas the Hanson Methodology would possibly advocate solely a 16 mile lengthy, it’s based mostly on excessive mileage and excessive depth the remainder of the week.
  • In the meantime a Strolling Marathon Coaching Plan could give attention to an extended stroll day of 4-5 hours slightly than a particular distance.
  • Superior marathon coaching plans will usually comprise 22 and presumably even 24 mile lengthy runs.

how far should you run before a marathon

Ought to You Run 26 Miles Earlier than a Marathon?

No. Onerous cease until you’re a very long time runner who can be coaching for an ultramarathon or doubtlessly an Olympic Qualifier. Although truthfully whereas elite runners hit large 100 mile weeks, they’re not often operating 26.2 within the coaching for a aim race.

The explanation we don’t run 26.2 miles previous to the race is the period of time it takes to get well from this long term.

That restoration time can impression the standard of your subsequent run and set you up for harm should you don’t do sufficient straightforward days or take time without work.

Ought to You Run 13 Miles Earlier than a Half Marathon?

Now we begin to see somewhat little bit of a change within the reply as a result of for skilled runners it’s a particular risk, whereas for first time half marathon runners it’s a NO WAY.

Very long time runners aiming for a half marathon PR could run as much as 16 miles. That is what I’ve accomplished myself prior to now and what works for a lot of athletes working for 1:40 and quicker races.

NOT REQUIRED, however it does work for some athletes. That is largely since you’ve pushed your endurance a bit farther after which there’s a psychological part to realizing that on race day you don’t have to go as far so you’re feeling extra assured selecting up the tempo.

For a primary time half marathon save that HUGE milestone for race day! Don’t freakout about not having coated the total distance in coaching.

Once more for this reason you comply with a good newbie half marathon coaching plan.

  • Throughout coaching you’re constructing your whole endurance
  • Every week you’re operating on barely fatigued legs from the space and any pace work
  • After your longest run (roughly 10 miles for first timers), you go in to taper
  • Throughout taper for a race, your physique has time to totally get well
  • Race day sees your muscle tissue stuffed with glycogen and in peak form to carry out.
  • Plus you get the added bonus of race day adrenaline which is able to carry you a lot farther than you recognize!

This graph is a good visible of how restoration lets you slingshot previous your present stage of health when used appropriately.

suercompensation graph

How Far Do You Have to Run Earlier than a Marathon?

Let’s break this down somewhat bit extra that will help you perceive what the longest run of your coaching ought to seem like.

Listed here are the components we need to absorb to consideration:

Expertise Degree

How lengthy have you ever be operating? Is that this your first marathon? If that’s the case we need to err on the facet of a extra conservative long term to keep away from any accidents that may stop you from making it to the beginning line.

Extra skilled runners are sometimes going to be doing extra or longer runs. And by skilled we don’t imply you’ve run 1 marathon, we truly imply that you just’ve been operating for years with out harm and you understand how your physique responds to lengthy runs.

Your Tempo

As a substitute of specializing in the mileage for a long term, most runners needs to be contemplating whole time on ft. The truth is, it’s why most of the lengthy runs I prescribe have a run interval adopted by just a few miles of strolling.

Complete time on ft issues.

Coach Greg McMillian makes use of the next method for runners beneath a 5:00 marathon:

Most long term = [Marathon time – 30 minutes] as much as [marathon time + 15 minutes]

In different phrases in case your marathon aim time is 4:00 then you definately would possibly do a long term of three:30 to 4:30 hours. Whereas this high finish is unlikely to be on most coaching plans for a 4 hour runner, it’s one technique that really takes tempo in to account.

Merely saying 20 miles needs to be your long term won’t be correct if it takes you 5 hours. We’d nonetheless cap your time on ft at 4:30 usually and fewer in others based mostly on extra components.

Damage or Sickness Historical past

Some runners merely are likely to get injured extra simply. Might be because of genetics, operating gait, lack of energy coaching or the basic coaching errors: an excessive amount of, too quickly, too quick.

Both method you probably have discovered your self plagued prior to now with getting injured or sick throughout marathon coaching it pays to be extra conservative with the long term.

On this case, it’s possible you’ll discover a greater profit from doing a long term that maxes out at 16 miles after which doing 8-10 miles the day after. That is much like what number of extremely runners prepare. It reduces the stress of the total long term and forces you to observe doing an honest run on drained legs the next day.

longest long run


Keep in mind that each coaching cycle and run will likely be totally different. Which implies it’s possible you’ll want to regulate the length of your long term because of life, operating within the warmth and humidity or a shift in targets.

Don’t anticipate them to all really feel good.

I like this assertion that about 1/3 of your coaching needs to be enjoyable, 1/3 ought to really feel arduous and 1/3 needs to be straightforward. It’s a reminder that it adjustments and studying to embrace the arduous helps on race day.

When Ought to You Do Your Longest Marathon Run?

After months of slowly increase your mileage, the most important long term for the marathon or half marathon needs to be TWO weeks from race day.

Old skool coaching plans used 3 weeks, however almost each operating coach I do know now agrees with the expertise I’ve seen in our athletes of a two week taper.

Which means two weekends earlier than your race you’ll do your huge run on Saturday or Sunday after which start to taper. The week earlier than your race your long term will most likely be 8-10 miles for the marathon and 6-8 for the half marathon.

Can Your Lengthy Run Be Over 3 Hours?

Sure. As famous above there are conditions the place you’ll completely have to observe being in your ft for longer than three hours. That is an unlucky generally relayed message that isn’t backed in research.

An enormous variety of runners will likely be doing 3:30 lengthy runs, run/walkers and walkers could completely be on the market for 4 hours.

That is NOT to say it is best to pressure your long term to be longer than 3 hours simply because you possibly can. Observe the plan that guides you thru what’s greatest on your targets and your physique.

How Many 20 Milers Ought to I Run?

Now that we’ve satisfied you 20 miles is loads for the long term, the query turns to how usually must you run them.

First time marathon runners will probably solely do 1 run of 20 miles throughout peak week. You’ll most likely additionally solely do 1 run of 18-19 miles. The aim is just to construct your capability for operating lengthy, nothing extra.

Skilled runners who’re aiming for a Boston Qualifying time, will probably have a few 20 mile lengthy runs, plus 18 mile runs that embody aim marathon tempo miles.

What’s the Shortest Lengthy Run To Run A Marathon?

As a coach I all the time hate this query as a result of it’s often a sign that you just haven’t accomplished sufficient coaching, however are decided to do the race and both hate it or get injured.

I’d say a minimum of 16 miles, assuming you haven’t been following the Hanson Methodology.

Working a half marathon would possibly make you’re feeling just like the marathon is totally doable and so that you choose one out in only a few months. I like the passion, however belief me when you hit 18 miles it appears like an entire totally different factor than the half marathon.

Your bones, ligaments and tendons want time to adapt to longer distances.

Extra coaching sources:

Different methods to attach with Amanda
Instagram Each day Enjoyable: RunToTheFinish

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