long marathon run

I'm a bit concerned at the pace of doing by long runs. I seem to run them quite naturally at about 8-8.10 for a distance of 18 miles. It's hard, but after a shower and something to eat, I could most probably go back out and do a few more miles, so I'm not exhausted by it. But is this too fast for a long slow run for a 3.30 marathon.

All the schedules I've looked at say I should run these runs at about 8.52 pace, based on my last 10k time earlier this month.

Also, I normally do a long run every week leading up to the marathon unless I'm racing, but again the schedules say not to, do them on alternative weeks.

I do not want to become over trained as this time I'm doing 16 weeks of training as opposed to only 12 & 14 in my last 3 marathons. I've decided on more weeks to try to achieve subb 3.30.

I've worked out my plan, by adapting several to suit me, but I'm starting to question if I've set up too hard a plan. Remember I'm regularly running 30-40 miles a week with long runs up to 16 miles even when not marathon training.

I know this is a long post but honest all advice appreciated and accepted.

Over 16 weeks my plan is for only 4 days of running based on tempo, speed, long and easy, one swim session and one circuit session, with one complete day of rest. Long runs go like this:
18,20,10 mile race,18,16,1/2m race,21,10 mile race,22,18,20,15,23,15,10,marathon. Highest mileage reaches 60 miles on week 13, which is still not as much as 3xlong run.

Thanks in advance. Hope you haven't gone to sleep!


  • Sorry more-do you think maybe I should aim for a little faster than 3.30? 10k pb now 42.16, 1/2m 1.34.20, which might make my long runs not too fast after all. But have I got the confidence to aim for more?!
  • Hilly, Based on your other times, I'd say 3.30 is easily achievable. I reckon 3.20 is nearer the mark. Good luck.
    PS I think the long runs need to be slightly faster
  • drewdrew ✭✭✭
    Hilly, lots of different points of views on long runs!

    Based on your recent training pace and number of long runs I would also agree with editor regarding your target time. 3:30 doesn't seem that stretching a goal for you.

    You could try doing your short long runs at a faster pace than you are currently doing them at with the aim of eventually doing an 18 miler at your goal marathon pace.

    Your longer runs of 20+ miles could be at a more relaxed pace.

    Remember that you don't want to take too much out of yourself during these long runs otherwise your next few sessions will be badly affected.
  • You say that you haven't tapered in the past, is that right? Maybe you have overtrained over too shorter period and the extra few weeks might make all the difference. It looks to me as though you should be able to reach your goal comfortably, but then again I'm having a similar problem with going sub 4. My 1/2m & 10k times also suggest that I should be able to dip under 4 hours with plenty to spare. I'm wondering whether I need to change my training pln now!

    I run 5 times a week over 15 weeks building from 10m long runs. maybe include two speed sessions rather than one - what do you think. Sorry, I realise that I started off offering help and am now asking for it!!!
  • Hello Hilly,

    I'm not experienced enough to know the answer, but yours is a question that I've frequently pondered myself, so I'm v. interested to see what other people say. I couldn't u/stand when I was training earlier in the year for Venice how I was meant to do 26.2 miles at 9 min mile pace when the schedule was telling me to do my long runs at something like 10 min mile pace. To be honest, I'm still not sure I understand where all that extra pace is meant to come from on the day.

    Anyway... it does sound to me, based on your current training, as though you could go faster than 3.30 in the marathon if you'd like to. How keen are you to do that this time, though? If you'd be happy with 3.30 this time round, then it sounds to me as though your current regime can reap the twin rewards of enabling you to achieve your time and (importantly, in my experience!) enabling you to have a good time doing it! It doesn't sound as though there would be any risk at all of you running into a wall and having to drag yourself through the last few miles. So, if you'd be happy with 3.30 then I'd just stay comfy and go with the flow :)

    On the other hand, if you'd like to get the fastest time you possibly can then you'll need a more scientific answer!

    Best of luck in either event, and thanks for raising the question - it's v. interesting :)
  • DustinDustin ✭✭✭
    Improved to 3.31 from last year to this.
    The difference?
    More long runs at or close to marathon pace (no more than 15s/mile slower). I tended to alternate my weekly endurance run between long (18-22m) runs at target pace (so for 3.30 around 8min/miling) , long slower runs (8m30 miling) and half marathon races at around 7min30 miling (1.36-1.39).
    Seemed to work.This year I'm after a 3.15-3.20 marathon (don't know where yet!) and I don't suppose that I'll change a lot of my training.First I have to do my self justice at a halfM - illness prevented the pb at Windsor - although I take a 10mile pb at GSR (69.04) and a 10k pb at Fleet (40.12) as suitable consolation.

    I'm also going to increase my midweek (weds)long run from 8-10 miles to 12-15 miles to build on the endurance base.
    Also do 2 speedwork sessions (Tue/Thur)- 1*reps (4*2k 400m recovs, 6*1mile 400m recovs , 8*800m 400m recovs) at 10m-halfM pace , and the other is tempo run (up to 10-12 miles).

    also do an easier session on one other day (Sat) - 30mins light fartlek/easy run with strides/10 hill reps or similiar.

    Complete rest on Fridays and an easy (25-26mins) 3mile on Mondays.
    As always I'm pretty flexible with the schedule and am happy to receive advice from anyone.

    Good luck!
  • Long (up to 18 miles) runs at marathon goal pace helped Ronaldo da Costa break the marathon WB a few years ago, so what's good enough for him is good enough for anyone else with a time in mind; like piglet says, if you do all your long runs at e.g. 8 minute miling, and a bit of speed work at 6, do you really expect it just to magically average out at 7 (if that's your goal marathon pace) on race day? You need to learn the pace you're going to run at; Dustin's mix of long ones sounds about right, and is the sort of training I'm aiming for.
  • I find it difficult to really know what pace I am going. I don`t know the distance i truly run on a long run as I havent measured it ! Are all of you guys doing long runs on a known distance or guessing ?
    Seems quite detailed above re pace/etc,, so i assume you know exact distance ?? Im interested... I basically run for say 2hrs and think ( and hope !) that I am going about 8 min mile pace- so thats 15 miles. Does anyone else guess/estimate/plan/etc,,
    would be interested what you do...
  • Lots to chew over here, thanks everyone for responding.

    I know from recent race times I should be able to go for a 3.20 time, just a bit scared to push myself and get injured. But I think I'll try to train for that time and if I get it then It'll be a bonus. If not I'll do what Wee Piglet suggests and enjoy it anyhow.

    I've decided to set myself 3 target times that I'd be happy with. The ultimate being 3.20.

    Llama man. I've always done a taper of 2-3 weeks, which was included in my 12 week buildup. For the first 2 marathons it seemed to work ok, but last time I introduced speed work for the first time in a marathon build-up. I was able to get away with just doing long runs for the first 2, but then to improve I needed the extra element, but unfortunately I got a virus. Overtraining or just bad luck, a bit of both I suspect.

    Dustin, you certainly should have no problem achieving you target time. I too have planned a variety of paced runs including 2 quality sessions, but the long run is a real bug bare as I'm never sure to push myself a little harder or stay in total comfort zone. After reading everyone's answers I can see if I want to achieve my true potential I shall have to work a bit harder on my long runs.

    Thanks again all! I've printed your answers to ponder over later.
  • I guess we all struggle in our own ways to find what is the best training regime for us. I also like the points raised about do you really want it that badly & risking injury through pushing too hard. I missed my first attempt at a marathon through pushing too hard in speed work during training a pulled tendon meant I had to withdraw.

    Sometimes it's just nice to ignore the watch and enjoy the experience of being lucky enough to be able to run.
  • Llama Man,
    yes sometimes it's oh so easy to get wrapped up in times, something most runners are guilty of at times I feel.

    I always have one run a week where I forget about the watch. Like many though, because I race a lot, I'm still at the stage of trying to improve and so try to have a structured weekly programme. Mind I do have rest periods where racing isn't important and I run just because I can and want to.

    Mind for a marathon distance I don't think I'd do that without having a goal. It's just too tough on the body.

    I too missed doing a marathon through developing a stress fracture, not a happy bunny at the time. But it makes us just a little wiser-at least I hope so!

    Here's hoping for an injury free build-up and marathon!
  • Main thing i would question is that you look as if you plan on doing a 10 mile run the week before your marathon. Wouldn't that be better to do a 7 or 8 miler? And make all the runs in that very last week gentle recovery runs. Do you work on heart rate monitor or how you feel?
    Ref the speed of long runs - i was told to train on my longs runs at about 1 min per mile slower and i did a crap time in the marathon as i kept slipping in to the slow comfortable pace. The next time i attempted it i trained at what i wanted my marathon pace to be - and did a brill time, feeling better and recovering better afterwards.
    Good luck.
  • Hi Dangly,
    I always work on how I feel, never on heart rate.

    I can cover 18 miles at 8 min pace and to be fair it feels comfortable, so I don't feel I'm working too hard. I might just for one of these long runs though wear my hr monitor and see what it says.

    Thanks for mentioning it, as I wouldn't have thought to wear it. Don't know why I got one really! Maybe for times like this.

  • I've only run two marathoms ss far Hilly. Like you I ran my long runs for the first one (18 - 22 miles) @ 8min to 8.10 and ran 3.24 on the day.

    For the second one I consciously slowed my long runs to about 9 min pace and got 3.27.

    I don't think it made much difference. The main difference was that I was putting in a lower total mileage for the second one, for various reasons.

    I'm going to try for 3.15 this year, possibly at Vwrnwy in the summer
  • Can anyone answer my Q- ? do you all run long on a known distance or guess/estimate ??
  • Hello Hubcap,

    On my long runs I tend to do exactly what you've described. I have an idea of how long parts of the route are (the road leading to/from the woods and beach), but after that I make an estimate based on time and how hard I seemed to be trying. I try to err on the side of caution. This week, for instance, I ran for 2 hours but my legs felt like lead and I stopped for a loo break twice, and I reckon I probably ran about 12.5 miles. Last week I ran 2 hours 15 mins and felt stronger, and I put it down in my log book as 14-15.

    Having said that, I think I'm about to buy a Timex SDM. I'm keen to know how far I've gone, but more than that I'm keen to know how fast I'm running on my long w/e runs. I already felt, and now feel even more strongly after reading this thread, that that's the best way to get an idea of how fast my marathon is likely to be.
  • DustinDustin ✭✭✭
    Hubcap - I have shorter measured loops (by car) of between 3-8 miles.I know my pbs and avg times to run each of these so I know what my approximate 'sustainable' jog pace is (for me 8mph).
    When I combine my loops and add new bits and pieces (sometimes off road) to my long runs,then I assume I'm running at my 'sustainable' pace and calculate the distance from this.

    So recently I did a 2h09 run and reckoned it was about 17 miles give or take half a mile.
    The thing with marathon training (IMHO) isn't necessarily doing say 16miles or 18 miles or 20 miles , but running for 2hrs15,2hrs30,3hrs and geeting used to being on your feet at a steady and sustainable pace.
    Once you've got this sussed the next trick is trying -ve splits on long training runs.

    (sorry to bring that up....)

    Happy New Year
  • Thanks Chaps= nice to know Im doing same as you!
    As said time on feet is most important I guess.
    I try and do up to 2 hrs and then get close to home. keep going if I can but able to head back sharp if I start to collapse ! I did 2h 10 10 days ago but hurt my calf/ I may try 2h this weekend if better so hope will be 15miles or so-
    Max length pre/ London ?? 3hrs= 22 miles at 8 min mile pace( i hope i can keep the pace up..)

    Happy running new year to all. I hope i wake up tomorrow and all my pains and aches have magically gone !!
  • Hubcap, I don't have that many measured routes.
    For my long runs last time I did my longest along a route I'd measured driving back from work as exactly 21 miles as I wanted to know I'd got over 20.
    Off road I use a little measuring 'wheel' and OS map 1:25 000 to estimate mileage, it's reasonably accurate.

    Lots of my routes are quite hilly so to make up for that I use my HRM to run to a specific whr which I know equates to marathon pace or slower. For time on my feet type runs or off road this might be 60-65% whr. For slightly harder long runs I try to maintain 70% for the 2nd half. This helps me run negative efforts if not exact splits as I've been recommended and am trying to follow through on running 2nd half of long runs faster than the first. Target marathon pace would work out around 75-78%.

    That said , although it goes against the grain for me, I will have to be more precise on some long runs if I'm going to practise my target time.

    Hilly, can't comment on your pace as you're much faster than I am! I notice you are p;lanning lots of very long runs; I'm sure with that much endurance your target is very achievable. Good luck.
  • I am more concerned with time on my feet rather than miles covered. As my long runs include X country I can't measure them but from my measured shorter runs (up to 10M) I feel that I can assess my pace quite accurately and therefore calculate distance. Usually err on the lower side in my mileage estimations. When I've run 20M races my times have been almost exactly what I expected, so educated guessing seems to work for me.

    Can't believe your thoroughness, Laura, I think one of the main reasons I don't measure the Xcountry stuff is that I can't be bothered to!
  • Laura, I too am impressed with your thoroughness.

    Most of my road runs are measured by car and I tend to add a bit extra just because I'm told car measurement is slightly out. I also have two routes that are local race routes so are accurate, one 10 miles one 10k. Off road, I have a few roughly measured routes, done by a friend with Laura's thoroughness for the rest I tend to go for time on feet and estimate the distance. I'm normally not far off in my guess work. I think most runner's get a feel for the pace they run.
  • I always measure my routes with one of those little wheel things and an OS map. Most of my routes are hilly, which gives a nice bonus speed boost if I happen to find a flat race. Of course some runs are "just" for enjoyment and these routes often evolve as the mood takes me.

    When I'm doing a long run I usually have a pretty good idea of the pace I am doing, but it is reassuring to have a couple of check points with planned splits - this is what you do in the race after all. One day I might manage negative splits!
  • Not thorough, just obsessive. And love looking at maps.

    I agree you do develop a feel for your pace after a while, regular racing will give you an accurate idea, since training pace/hr is never quite the same as racing.
  • I vaguely remember Brendan Foster saying something at the end of teh Chicago Marathon about how Khalid Kanouchi always ends his long runs by speeding up for the last few miles. As in quite significantly - going from about 4:45/4:50 miles to about 4:15-4:20's.

    I guess this will be a good way to makes sure that you've got strength in your legs at the end.
  • Happy New Year geezer, got a hangover have you?!!
  • Laura and Johnny, Fancy bringing your little wheels and OS maps to the Nottinghamshire countryside. You could sort out a whole range of accurately measured marathon training routes for me for the next 3 months. Or are you just going to say do it yourself!
  • a collegue of mine has purchased one of those satalite distance measure devices attaches to your arm and you read off a wrist watch bought it from the states via the internet cheaper than buying here saved about £30.00.cost around £130.00-140.00
    very accurate
    hes running the London 1st time and I am helping him prepare so theirs me with my heart rate monitor him with his satalite thing be turning into Robocop next
    beam me up Scottie
  • This month's 'Computer Shopper' includes a trial version of a program called AccuRoute which I've been trying over the holidays.
    You can simply scan in a section of an OS map,calibrate the software against the map grid, and then use the mouse pointer to trace any routes you want. It gives the distances in km and miles, and has a zoom facility so its easy to trace both on and off-road routes.
    I've checked the distances it displays against some local routes I definately know the length of (like the Cheshire 4 villages 1/2 marathon) and it's been spot on.
    I think I've seen the full product advertised in the RW mag for about £12.
    At least I can be sad in private instead of walking round with a silly wheel.
    Happy 2003.

  • Llama Man Do it yourself!

    Seriously, your way seems to work for you, maybe I'm just obsessive - Like Laura, I actually rather like looking at maps, and reading a route after running it sort of fixes the picture.
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