Advice: completing a 20miler 2 weeks before the marathon


I'm a first time marathon runner who was hoping to achieve a sub 4 hour time. Unfortunately I got acute tendonitis on both my achilles 3 weeks ago after I completed the 18miler. I've been resting ever since and was able to complete a short (30min) run pain free yesterday. 

I am now hoping to run the 20miler this weekend before the London marathon on the 24th. I'm really keen to get this distance done before the marathon but I reading a lot of stuff which says that the long runs should be done 3 weeks before. 

Is it ok to do the 20miler 2 weeks before?

Many thanks for any advice!




  • Let me start by saying I am not an expert at all only a first timer like you (check out the VLM first timer thread) but I know that running 18 miles is good enough to complete the marathon. By doing the 20 miler 2 weeks before you run the risk of injuring yourself again and therefore not doing it at all as well as not having a decent taper time.

    Now, of course, if you have run loads before, have run in several different ones, then that is different but I would save the 20 miler for the actual race itself and keep getting yourself back to your full fitness.  Wouldn't it be awful if you injured yourself doing the 20 miler and then couldn't do the race?

    I'm sure the more experienced may have different advice and good luck whatever you decide. image

  • Thanks Blithespirit! image

    Any comments from seasoned marathon runners would also be really helpful.


  • literatinliteratin ✭✭✭

    Given that your longest run so far led to injury, and that it's your first time and it would be the longest distance you've ever run, I would agree with Blithespirit.

    I am running Londoon and I might run 20 this weekend (or maybe 18), but I have run three marathons before, find long runs easy and pleasant, am between 60 and 70 miles per week, and am deliberately planning a short taper due to having had a shorter marathon build-up than usual due to some time out in December. I definitely wouldn't recommend it for a first-time marathon runner, especially not when you have only just recovered from injury.

  • Thanks, I'm just a bit concerned that by the time the marathon comes round that (in terms of longer runs) I will only have completed an 18miler (6 weeks previously) and a 16 miler (7 weeks previously), is that enough preparation to complete the race with a 13miler-16miler this weekend?

    Thanks so much.

  • JoolskaJoolska ✭✭✭
    It's enough to complete the race although you may have to settle for a slower time than you are really capable of. Focus on recovery not training!
  • just accept that you will probably be slower.....there is a  real danger that if you try a long run this weekend you will put yourself right back in injury and maybe miss the marathon.....

    If you want to do it and not defer to next year then keep them short and if it goes on the day you can walk hobble to the line

    You have picked a sub 4 target.what have you based this on..

  • Thanks Joolska and Seren nos. Training was going well before the injury so I set myself that an ambitious sub 4 target but what matters to me now is completing the race rather than getting a getting a good time as it's a charity place and I don't want to let the people who have sponsored me down.

  • I would forget about the target and just try and take it easy on the day and enjoy the experience as much as possible...

    good luck

  • Yes I don't see the benefit of your 20miler this week. You've done 18 so you know you will get round.

    I'm doing a 20 on Friday for London but it's my fifth 20 miler and I've run plenty of marathons before. And I know to take it slow. So many people are coming on here and running their long runs at race pace or even above and then having problems recovering!

    Just enjoy the day. Even taking it slightly slower than your goal pace makes a world of difference.

    Good luck
  • T RexT Rex ✭✭✭

    Achilles tendonitis is a nightmare and you don't want to do anything that will make that worse.  The best exercise is eccentric heel dips off a step (only dip the heel down - use your arms and upper body, e.g. on banisters to raise your heel back to the level position and repeat 10 times.  Do several reps a day.  Do not raise the heel by going onto tiptoe.  Having it in both ankles is unfortunate and suggests it might be your shoes causing it?  

    Ordinarily a 20-mile run two weeks out would be ideal but only if fully fit.  I would do a very swift taper now and only do gentle sessions.  If you get get acute, sharp pain in your achilles area during any of your runs then ease off practically altogether. You won't lose much fitness but you could make your injury a lot worse.

    You will almost certainly have to abandon your 4-hour target so perhaps set yourself different goals or just go out and hopefully enjoy the whole experience (the atmosphere is brilliant).  Enter another marathon later in the year and have a go at 4 hours then.

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