To 20+ or not to 20+

Hi all,

I'm getting a different opinon wherever I go so maybe the definitive RW Forum can answer once and for all.

I am due to do my first 20 miles on the weekend, up till now things have been going preety well, and I havent found the longer distances (up to 18 so far) too much of a problem.  I am following the schedules from here and although following the faster ones (3:30 - 3:45) am only looking to make the most of whatever I can get on the day.

The schedule will peak at 22 miles which I have always been preparing for since I started, and am comfortable to at least attempt.  Now some are saying just get fit to 18 others dont go over 20 and only do one 20 run a couple of weeks before race day.

 What do people think I should try to aim for.


  • You say you are coping well up to 18 milers ? I would definitely try to get to 22 then.

    The last 6 miles are the hardest - and if you havent run to 20 - you just aren't prepared.

    If you were struggling at 18 though, then 20 may take it out of you too much, but I try and get at least 3 x 20 milers in and aim for 5 of them.
  • Thanks cougie.

    I will aim for a 22 a bit later on and see how we get on.  I will definetly do a couple of 20s though.


  • ...what Cougie says.

    Listen to yourself though....if you are feeling good at 20...(well as 'good' as you can be)...then try and squeeze a couple more out. Conversely if you are planning 22 and things dont feel too good...or downright rubbish, be prepared to consider stopping a little early.

    THis is all on the assumption that it is new territory for you.

  • IMO there's a lot of mystique around the 20 figure, purely because it begins with a 2 and not a 1.  It's understandable that this would provide some sort of psychological barrier to overcome, and it definitely shouldn't be taken lightly because 20 miles is, after all, a blimmin' long way, but if you're already reasonably happy running 18 I would definitely go to at least 20.  As with all these things, listen to your body.  Take the first 20 miler nice and easy, see how the recovery process feels compared to previous LR's, etc.  I don't know what your schedule looks like from here but there are a fair few weeks left so I'm guessing that even with the odd step-back week you can do a couple of 20s and see how they go before moving up to 22.
  • I disagree on this to a certain extent. My fastest marathon was done off the back of no more than 18 miles , although I did do a lot of them (from around end November on). Moved onto the 20'sw and 22's for the next couple of years but times slowed. For me I think that the longer distance was just that bit too far so I didn't recover well enough between that and the next training sessions. I was 49 at the time so that will also have played a part I'm sure.

    I would recomend a 20 and see how you recover. If training afterwards becomes a struggle then go back to 18's.

  • I will add my bit, its all about you and how well you cope with milage. So try one and if you feel ok off the back of it then you now its good for you. Everyone is different and should do different training. When you are just getting into this sort of distance all you can do is try and see what happens.

     As others have said take it easy and make sure you refuel after! good luck

  • Yeah - I'd echo the comment on refuelling after. I seem to recover quicker if I have a Rego drink not long after the long runs.
  • As we get older we have to revisit training plans and 20 + is not always groovy i have ran and felt better off the back of 16 and 18s. A lot of its in your head. Why not convert your long run to hours...and run no more than 3hrs for instance?

    You have to take into account how long you are going to be on your feet and if running 20 miles means 4hrs + its a lot to ask of your legs in training.

    Full English does the refuel for me image

  • Alistair

    how are you mate,

    your doing pretty good ahh, that's good, your fairly comfy at 18 ahh!

    i think need to gently build on it now, ( only you know you ), others are right, but everyone will have a different opinion, cos were all different

    it sounds real good to me,

    but, it can be tough out there, every day can be diffierent, depends how your mind is

    you can either , get your body used to 18 and 20, or try pressing on gently now

    best of luck, everyone is with you

  • Hi Alistair

    The definitive answer is that there isn't a definitive answer!!

    Whether you do one (or more) 20 miles before the big one depends entirely on the person.

    By the sound of your times and the schedule you are following, this probably isn't going to be the only marathon you run, so getting 20-milers under your belt is a good idea.

    I'd agree with cougie - 5 x 20 milers in the run up - to get your body to know what they feel like.

    Two things I would suggest - do the first 2-3 miles slow, plus try to keep accurate mile split times so you can see if your pace is staying constant.

    Good luck
  • I have nothing much to add, just wanted to say 'snap'.  I've been mulling over the '22 or not 22' question too.  I think my decision (and that of the girls I run with) is to see how we feel in the week after our first 20 and decide then.  Personally, I'm not finding the running as hard as the recovery from the longer runs.  Perhaps that bodes well for the marathon but not so for my intended morning shopping the next day?
  • For thems that care, I did the 20 on the weekend and managed it reasonably well.  I only really started to feel it in the last 3 or 4 miles and managed a fast (ish) finish.  I was aching a little but it didnt take me very long to get back to normal.

    Anyway I have concluded that next time I will run the distance and try another two miles if I feel ok after the halfway point.

    Thanks for all the input, it does seem to be quite a contentious issue.


    Oh by the way if anyone is interested I did it in 2:57.

  • i would echo the 'start slow' method. I did my my first  20 miler  for this years FLM 8 days ago. My route is  3 laps of 6.7 miles. 1st lap 60 mins - 2nd lap 60 mins -3rd lap 55mins.  I ran the first two miles at about 10 min miles, so very gently eased in to the run, and sprinted last 400metres, so worked for me.
  • the way, i did a 5 mile x-country yesterday, and i was completely spent at 3 miles, and came in like a slug apart from managing a last 200 metre sprint finished. I then jogged home 10 miles at my own pace and felt fine at the end of that. It still amazes me how much difference a slight pace change can make. The difference between a really  good run that gives you confidence and hope for a good marathon time and a feeling of despair that you are rubbish , out of breath, and not getting any fitter!!
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