Stopping for breaks / water breaks during the weekly long run – ok long term?

I’ve started running with an awesome running club, which is helping my Edinburgh Half Marathon prep no end.  My group’s weekly long runs are around 20 – 25km+ in distance, and there are usually 4 stops at local supermarkets for fluids.  We’re in the UAE, temps are lovely just now but will get hotter and more humid in next few months.  We probably pause for around 5 mins to also allow everyone to regroup.

This works brilliantly for me just now because I’m still building experience of running this distance.  Plus it’s very sociable and supportive, very motivating. 

My question is, should I be reducing the number of these breaks perhaps late March / April, as part of training for the Half on May 26th)?  In a race experience I’d very much be aiming not to stop at all.  Perhaps the 5min pauses don’t matter so much because the most important thing is covering the distance? 

 Am aiming to improve from 2hrs 6mins to sub 2hrs if this has a bearing…

 Thank you!


  • Ideally you would run continuously to help build the physical endurance. Run-walk/stop-Run is less tiring. In an ideal world you would run continuously, but enjoying the training is also important - so aim to do some of the runs continuiusly as you progress through the training.

  • Thank you Also-ran, I suspected this might be the case. I'll factor some continuous runs into training over the coming weeks.  And will keep enjoying the current runs with breaks as a gradual confidence builder over distances greater than Half Marathon.

    Appreciate your response

  • the longer the break, the lower the training effect of the long run will be. so if you stop a handful of times for 10 seconds or so to cross a road or wait for traffic lights, i wouldn't consider that a significant break (presumably you'll slow/walk through at least some of the aid stations in the race?) but if you were to break up a 20 mile run into 2x 10 milers before and after work (to take it to an extreme) it wouldn't really be the same as running a straight 20,

  • Yes I do indeed slow to walking pace going through water stations, and often for 30seconds beyond due to fact that i'm still building fitness (i do get myself off to the side and out of the way of other runners whilst doing this)..  AgentGinger, thanks for your reply, all sounds sensible and logical to me, am sure I can come up with a way of tackling long run breaks with the club without losing the camaraderie benefit of club running.

  • Can always just say sorry guys n girls, but for the 3 traning runs before my half I really need to practise non stop, just for these 3 do any of you want to keep going with me, or shall we just set out together and i'll see you at the end and high five you all as you come in image .... or similar image

  • Nothing to stop you running a loop whilst the others rest.  They could pretend being water-station-marshalls, and you can come past and practice taking on fluids whilst on the move!

  • I think 5 mins is a bit excessive for a stop.

    I'll take a walking break on long runs to eat something but I'm still walking and it's a minute or so I allow myself.

    If I stopped for 5 mins four times I'd probably struggle to get going again.

    Then again - I might be glad of them in the heat !
  • Yeahhh Run Wales has the answer image


  • cougie makes a good point. the further you are into a long run, the more the restart will hurt. if i stop at all after about 16-17miles my legs start to stiffen up. the longer i'm stationary the tougher it is to get going, if I leave it too long it's effectively session over.

  • if the break is to regroup.when you get there turn back and run back to the slowest ones and run in with them ... that will reduce your stopping time and increase your running time.

  • Great insight and ideas from you all, knew I'd come to the right place with my question.

    And yes, one point of the water stop breaks is to regroup, so that's a great idea for me to turn back and help with the 'sweeping', thanks seren nos.  And would def help prevent stiffness in the legs, good reminder AgentGinger.  Have only had that a couple of times due to lack of experience over distance, but was unpleasant.

    I am also thinking I might take extra jelly babies and see if i can persuade the others to hand these out whilst playing at pretend water marshalls


    thanks everyone, a huge help

  • You could nominate a faster runner in your group to run ahead about a mile before the supermarkets, they get the drinks ready to hand out when you arrive. We all know some faster runners like to show off a bit, just persuade them it's a new form of interval training.

    One option my club does is to put water bottles in a carrier bag and someone drives round the course before and hids the bag in the bushes.

  • In an ultra get you get used to stopping.  Cannot see 5 mins will do any harm myself.

  • spen71 wrote (see)

    In an ultra get you get used to stopping. 

    I think you ultra guys must be a bit soft then image

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