Why shouldn't I run 13.1 before my first HM ?


I have my first HM in Novemeber and I keep hearing comments that I shouldn't run 13.1 miles in training before the HM. Why is this so ? What harm would it do if I do run 13.1 before the HM ?



  • You SAID it.image

  • What did I say ???

  • Basically, I was agreeing with you.

    SAID = specific adaptation to imposed demand.

  • Oops, sorry !

    Do not most sportsmen practise the actual event in which they take part ? I dont see Usain Bolt practising only up to 80 metres. I just dont really understand why people say not to run the 13.1

  • Running that distance takes it out of you - so it will take a little bit longer to recover. 

    So you may miss some sessions that you'd otherwise get more benefit from. 

    Its worse for marathons - no program I've seen says to do a full marathon in training.


    Its up to you though - try it and see ?

  • It's one thing saying you can get by and do a decent half marathon off 10-12mile long runs, but it's a different thing entirely to say DON'T run the full distance before race day.

    The kind of thing a newbie, or inexperienced runner would say. And the reason would be that you don't do enough mileage to support that long a run, and it would thus take too much out of you.

    I doubt there's many performance orientated half marathon runners who don't run above the distance in training though .And regularly too.

  • It probably works for inexperienced or newbie runners though Stevie.  They normally arent doing the miles - so 13.1 is the max they will build up to. 

    Obviously if you have the miles in your legs and running 13 miles isnt an issue  - it would be fine to do. 

  • Thanks. I already have.

    I plotted a route last week to run round Ladybower Resevoir which is just about 13 miles (I think I had selective hearing at that time about not running the distance before the HM). For some reason I took a wrong turning (dont ask me how I talk a wrong turning when all I had to do was follow the reservoir) and I ended up running 19 miles. The most I had done previously was 10 miles and it was really hard going those last 4/5 miles. That was Saturday and come Sunday I was aching a bit so went out for a long walk and on Tuesday I felt fine so I went out on a tempo run. I have to say I felt spot on and didnt feel the effects of the 19 miles. If anything it's made me feel more confident knowing that I can run the 13.1, and more, and it's also given me the idea that I should enter the Manchester full marathon next April. 

  • I love your enthusiasm.  I ran over 13.1 prior to my first 1/2, it gave me a great boost to know I could achieve the distance and took some of the stress out of the race day.  I appreciate when marathon training to do the distance isn't sensible but I think if you feel comfortable doing over the distance for a half then why not!  Well done you!  I think maybe your wrong turn was fate, good luck in your half and enjoy your training for Manchester. image

  • Thats one hell of a wrong turn ! image

  • if your weekly mileage is high enough I'd say it'd be difficult NOT to run over 13 miles in training runs. At the sharp end of the sport the elites frequently run "overdistance" runs in training, but they're running 100+ miles per week. The intensity will be lower, but there's nothing wrong with getting the distance in if your body can take it.

  • I followed a training scheme for the half that took me up to 14 miles about a month before the half. Yes, it took it out of me but as a newbie runner it really gave me confidence to know that I could go the distance.
  • I would say no problem running longer in training runs once your body is used to higher mileages, it will be at a much lower intensity than when you run in the race.

  • I ran 15 miles regularly in the build up to my first half. In fact before I knew anything about training I ran 15 miles twice a week with a third run of 9 miles. I was also cycle commuting 150 - 180 miles a week. When I wasn't at work I was sleeping.

  • I'm not an expert, in fact most of my posts on here are asking for help!, but I've read in a number of places that the purpose of the LSR is to build up mitochndria in your muscles that help you run for longer (and the LSR also trains your body to burn fuel in a different way). However I've also read that the benefits of the LSR on the mitochondria tail off dramatically in training runs over 2 hours in duration (seems a very arbitrary/convenient time point for a cut off  but that's what the research says.

    Therefore to come back to the relevance of this to the original question - if you are running your LSR at a speed that enable you to run over distance in the 2 hours then would be worthwhile as you are gaining from it. However if you would only run 10 miles in 2 hours then not much point slogging on for another 36 minutes as its probably not really adding much to your endurance capability.

    Would be interested to know if anyone more knowledgeable agrees. 

  • Skinny - Couldnt disagree more, the main benefits are almost certainly beyond two hours. What research was this?

  • http://blog.runkeeper.com/running-training/the-marathon-long-run-is-overrated

    Here's one that talks about 2.5 hours so maybe I have misremembered it but I'm quite good with numbers - i'll look for a few more that I've read.

  • Ah, hold on. He states there is a big tail off after three hours not two. That is a reasonable statement but if you trained for a marathon and completely missed the section between 2 and 3 hours you would not really be equipped for the task ahead.

  • Yeah - I've looked a bit more and I can't find the articles I remember reading so I think I'm wrong - apologies - told you I wasn't an expertimage! Apologies also to OP! I'll crawl back in my hole but I'm pleased I have reresearched this as it was obviously something I have misremembered - thanks!

  • I think the psychological benefits of going over distance before your race are huge. Glad your 19-mile run wasn't a total disaster - you'll find it a lot easier the next time you run that distanc (it's be miles 20 and 21 that feel really hard). Once you've run Manchester, if you want to go further out, come and join us on the "Wanabee ultra runner" thread.

    Actually... I did run over marathon distance in training for my first marathon - I deliberately trained for and ran a 50K first. This gave me mental permission to stop speed work while I built up the mileage (too self-competitive, that's me). Did a couple runs over mara length (with 10-12 mile runs the next day) in training, then the 50K, before dropping the mileage down a bit and doing more speed work for the marathon. Knowing I could run the distance was a huge help when I came to run the marathon.

    And Skinny, I don't think I could have run a 50K, never mind my first 50M, with no training runs longer than two hours...

  • A 19 mile training run for a first ever half marathon? Yes ultra running beckons.image

    I did two 30 mile training runs prior to my first 50k race. Also in between I ran my first ever proper half marathon. 


  • Ultra you say ? How far do you have to drive in that event ?
  • If you carried on running you'd have done a marathon. IIRC your nickname suggests you're an unstoppable machine of some kind.

    Depends where you live but take a look here for some ideas.



  • Completed a couple of 2h05 to 2h10 halfs with training up to 10/11 miles, but knocked 24 min of that PB when training up to 19 miles (as part of my first marathon training) - it made a massive difference to my speed having the extra endurance. I may be a naive beginner when it comes to running but I can definitely see the benefit, but only as the others said if you have a decent base mileage to run your LSR from to avoid injury.
  • Daeve: yes, the half I ran between the 50K and the marathon, I took about 12 minutes off my PB - so much easier to just "go for it" when 13 miles is no longer a long distance.

  • Thanks for the comments everyone. For me, I think it will benefit me to do the extra miles if I'm having a good run. Today, I did a 16 mile run that took in 2 miles of going up a mountain, quite literally. It was definitely a hard slog but I feel I have a marathon in me. It's given me even more confidence towards going for that marathon. As for 'ultra' I'm not so sure. I'm 45 years old, but don't believe that age should be a barrier for most things, but am not so sure I could commit to the training I suspect is needed. But i am a competitive so and so so who knows. I will have a look at that link, cheers stanmorek, and will pop over to one of the ultra threads to see what it's all about, cheers Debra.
  • carterusm. FYI: I'm about to hit 45. Many ultrarunners are not in their 20s or even their 30s. Loss of stamina as you get older is slower than is loss of speed...

  • Thanks Debra. I didn't realise a lot of ultra runners were of a similar age to me. Looking at one of training plans for a 50km it seems that I am currently running similar distances and would only really need to steadily increase my LSR. So maybe it could be an option for the future. What terrain are ultras normally run over ?
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