How Long should the Long Run be?

I notice all training programmes for lesser distances (eg 10K 1/2M) always include an "over-distance" run. Not so for the marathon, where the longest run is typically 20 to 24 miles. Why?


  • GavoGavo ✭✭✭
    Meant to reply to this earlier but got distracted. I think that the reasoning is on a couple of fronts.

    Firstly with a marathon, particularly with crowds watching, people are less likely to give up so keep on going when they wouldn't normally on a training run.

    Secondly, the race itself is supposed to be the ending point so if your body feels knackered for the next couple of days then it doesn't matter because you've finished. If you get injured or whatever in the training then you won't be able to do the race to your best ability.

    Only done 1 marathon and only ran up to 20 miles twice & I survived so there may well be a method in the madness.


  • The reason the long runs aren't as long as the marathon (or longer) is simply because regularly running eg. 30 miles increases the likelihood of injury. It's different for ultramarathon runners - they don't have a choice (though they often run their long runs pretty slowly). Marathon runners DO have a choice and so keep the longest runs to only 20-23 miles in order to gain maximum training benefit while reducing the risk of overtraining.
  • I've only done 1 marathon and i ony did 1 20 mile run.( about 3 weeks before the race) and i got through. I think it all depends of the individual. horses for courses.
  • I have not done it so far but my book says, that during the training you are never fully rested, while just in front of the day X you have two "easy" weeks, so you can go the bit further.
    What I am wondering is, that I want to go further AND faster.
  • Those last two weeks you are meant to cut your distance NOT GO FURTHER. you need to rest for the big day
  • Sorry, I meant go faster and further on day X. I have to choose my words better.
  • i was getting worried for you then. lol
  • I've also heard that it's because physiologically running that far knackers you - a lot more than running over distance for shorter events.

    It'll depend how far you've gone before, but I think around 22 is generally considered a pretty good maximum figure, although plenty of people do marathons with nothing longer than (say) 18 miles behind them as a longest run.

    Having said that you hear about people who do full marathons seemingly every other weekend!

    Take note of the tapering point though!

  • Wait till you get your January Runners World, the training programs start there

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