Low mileage marathon training

I'm in training for the Loch Ness marathon in just over seven weeks time. I'm getting over a knee injury but it still comes on after about 3 or 4 miles. I'd like to do the race but I realise that my current mileage isn't ideal. Whats the least amount of miles I could realistically get away with if I wanted to run the 26.2 miles in October? Part of me thinks I won't get the long runs in and should just call off now, part of me thinks of all those articles in RW about people who knock out marathons on consecutive days (so anything should be possible!). Any advice welcome. Thanks!


  • Really, really, really can't see you doing 26 miles on what you're doing.

    This is from a HM runner here as well.

    Recover from your injury and run it when you can knock off 20 miles or so.

  • It all depends on how much you value your lower legs really.

    I wouldnt even contemplate running a marathon on anything less than a long term 50 mpw average, but wouldnt really look forward to the race on a schedule of less than 75mpw.

    There are plenty articles/interested parties who want to convince anyone who will listen that a marathon is a breeze and fun, fun, fun on 20 mpw. They must have their reasons for promoting such a message but its one thats best ignored.

  • I beg to differ I have run London on less than three runs per week averaging less than 20, (sub 3:15 times) however I have been running a long time and do cycle and swim. I also don't neglect the long runs and do make sure I cover the distance or therebaouts at least once.
  • 75 mpw, !!!!, bejesus.

    Nottingham will be my 5th mara' in 16 months and i'm having a nightmare training (Injury, work, motivation etc etc)

    I'll do this race on about 25/35 mpw average with long runs of about 16, 18 and 20.
    Not once have i even considered not running it even though i know i'm under-prepared.

    Train as well as you can and on the day just grit your teeth and do your best, as we all know marathon running is a mental thing as well physical. 

  • PJClaret - wether you can do Loch Ness depends on what level you were at before your injury, what you are currently doing, what you can do between now and the event and your expectations for the day.

    There is seven and a bit weeks to go to Loch Ness, if you allow only a two week taper that is still five weeks to fit your training into.

    In the ten weeks prior to the Edinburgh Marathon I picked up knee injury and in the first five of those weeks I ran a total of twelve miles. When I was able to run I took two weeks to build up to a 10K race then a further week to a 19mile LSR before a two week taper. I then did the marathon in 3.18.

    While pleased to finish a get a pb I suffered big time in the last seven miles, due to lack of endurance or dehydration (it was a very hot day) or both. I went of too fast for my then current state.

    I also had managed six 19mile LSRs prior to the injury and my training had been going well up to that point. It was a non running cause of injury which helped the rehabilitation.

    Prior to recommencing running I was still unsure of my knee and getting slight twinges from it. I took the advice of a seasoned fell runner and gave it an all or nothing 1 hour run. If it failed and broke down I couldn't do the marathon, if it survived I could do the marathon, it survived and I did the marathon.

    So what are your expectations if you do the marathon, can you handle a slower time and possibly pain and fatigue in the closing stages?

    What has your current training been?

    Good luck and hopefully see you at Loch Ness

  • I have run two maras both on about 25 to 30 miles per week. Marathons are not easy, and you have to pace yourself based on the level of training you have done. If you can finish it, just take your time and enjoy the day. However, if your knee is sore after 3 miles, 23.2 miles is a very very long way to go if you have an injury that is causing pain. There will be loads of other maras to have a go at

     Keep smiling

  • I'm watching this with interest.  I am just coming back from a 4 week lay off with a calf strain- in that time I've mostly done bike- odd short run of 4 miles. I'm down to do langdale marathon in just over 5 weeks.  I ran 11 miles yesterday and feel fine today. I'm taking it run by run on a daily basis. If I do langdale I'll be happy just to get round

  • Thank you very much for the advice so far! (onegoodleg - great time for Edinburgh considering the heat and the amount of training you did! That race left me knackered for weeks!)

    I've been doing a lot of cross training over the last couple of months which makes me optimistic in a Dean Karnazes "crawl if you must" kind of way. On the other hand, I realise there will be other marathons and I am equally tempted to build fitness for races in the spring.

    I had a good 40-min run this morning. Felt some tightness in my knee after about 30 mins but nothing too sore and no reaction after. I've got a half and a 10k planned between now and Loch Ness and if I'm not able to do the half without any problems I'll rule out Locj Ness.

  • Hi PJ i have been recovering from a calf tear and training for dublin (end oct) has proven - interesting, back running but obviously have to be careful and not push it. I checked my training schedule with my physio last night which averages about 25 mpw and she is more than happy with it, i'm not going for a time i just want to do it now so i'm not putting pressue on myself but i do swimming and cycling as well, the only thing i would say to you is that if you are still injured or its not fully healed you could make it worse or harder to recover from in future if you go for the mara, my longest run incidentally is only 18 miles in my schedule.

    edit: Oh and i'm running 4 times a week, cross training twice a week and 1 rest day!

    Good luck!

  • I do my marathons on considerably less than 75 mpw! I'm impressed by anyone who can find the time to fit in that much running! I haven't managed to run more than 40-odd miles a week and I probably average between 25 and 30 miles over my marathon schedules. OK my times are v. slow but I've only had one nightmare run (out of 4) so far.

    However if your knee is hurting you after only a few miles I would consider missing this marathon out. IMO you'd be better off getting the injury sorted out and finding a marathon you can build up to properly.

    Good luck whatever you decide to do image

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