Why do the marathon training schedules provide details of runs only up to 20 miles? How will I manage the final 6 miles when i've only trained to 20? There certainly wont be any adrenalin left!!


  • I'm no expert, but I know where you are coming from, as I did my first marathon a couple of months ago, and was quite worried about the last 6 miles, and 'hitting the wall.'

    I think the theory is that 20 miles or so gets your body used to running 'long', without totally exhausting you and increasing injury risk (and therefore missing your maraton altogether!).

    You will probably be surprised how the adrenaline and other runners do 'carry' you for the last 6 miles, though I think even experienced marathoners can struggle to keep pace towards the end.

    I actually did a longest run of 22 miles, (even such a lack of confidence for the distance. I'm glad I did this and will probably do one 22 miler for my next marathon too.

    Hope this helps, and good luck!!
  • I did FLM Last year and my longest run in training was 20 miles (x4) as stated in the schedules, the last six miles were still hard work. I am doing it agin this year and intend to put in atleast two full distance training runs and the four 20 - 22 milers. My mileage is however about 25% higher this year than last so should not be as bad anyway
  • If you're training at an appropriate pace, you'll do your last 20-21 mile training run before a marathon in around the same time that you'll do the marathon on race day. That's quite enough time-on-feet in training for anyone who isn't training for an ultra.

    The reason long training runs stop well short of marathon distance is that the majority of experts believe that there is no point testing the Wall in training. If you go beyond the distance at which your glycogen stores will inevitably run out, you'll suffer more muscle breakdown and at best you'll take longer to recover from the training run; at worst, you'll develop an injury that will compromise your race.

    Those last 6 miles are hard work, and that's why finishing a marathon is always worthy of respect. But on the day you will find them. Everyone can pull out a little extra something in a race.

    I'd strongly advise trusting the training-schedule designers, who are in the main experienced marathoners and running coaches, to know what they are doing. And in limiting long training runs to 20 miles, what they are doing is trying to get you to the start line adequately trained, uninjured, and without having peaked too early and run your race around the pavements of your home town with only your SDM to cheer you on.
  • Also bear in mind that with a proper taper you'll be starting you're marathon fully rested. Each long run you do is in the middle of a packed training schedule, so there's a big difference. If you live in an area with similar terrain to me you'll almost always find the event itself is being run on a far flatter circuit as well.
  • SianceSiance ✭✭✭
    Don't worry! Similar training principles are used for half marathons too - advice is to train to 10 miles, so you'll be able to manage the extra 3. That's just doubled for a marathon.

    Once you can do 20, work on more intense speed & interval type runs to give you the extra push for the last 6.

    Remember to take on carbs in the form of energy drinks, esp from 16-17 miles to refuel your muscles.

    You'll be surprised how it works, good luck!
  • The combination of distances and paces is designed to get your body in the best shape for the marathon without damaging it too much. Running the full distance is very hard on your body and you'll take so long to recover fully that you'll hamper the rest of your training.

    I know of several people who have put full distance training runs into their schedules and it has gone horribly wrong for them. They haven't been fully recovered on race day so have performed well below expectations.
  • Thanks folks thats all a big help. I can do just under 20 miles in just under 3 hours on a VERY hilly training course. (Scotland known for its hills!). Hopefully will be Ok for Edinburgh marathon next May.
    Merry Christmas to all.
    Molly XX

  • Molly, if they handed out training schedules that included, say, a long run of 23 miles, you'd get to 23 miles and then say, "Goddammit, I might as well do the 26, plus the 385 yards, seeing as I've come this far!!"

    Then, as you'd already done the marathon you'd been training for, you might not bother turning up on the big day itself.

    So it's too risky including a run longer than 20 miles in the training schedule. (But that doesn't stop you going further if you want to, of course. They can't stop you.)
  • Hi Folks, I've not done alot of running since the great Manchester run last year & missed the deadline this year.I wanted to know if you think I've given myself too short notice to do the Blackpool half marathon in June or not..? I would like to get a place for doing a Marathon before I turn 40 next year ( either FLM or Edinburgh) hopefully..
  • I've always wondered about this too, especially when so many people say that the marathon is made up of two halves - the first twenty miles, and the last 6.

    That has certainly been borne out in my experience. I bonked at 20 miles in my last marathon, and really struggled in the last 6 miles. I'm still not sure whether it was a lack of longer runs over 20 miles, not enough tempo runs, or the fact that I had a head cold, or acomination of all of these. I had made sure that I did all the long runs in my schedules(up to just over 20 miles), and the speed sessions, but I had missed some tempo runs.

    Next time I do a marathon, I'm going to make sure I get several runs over 20 miles in - probably up to about 24, and see if that makes a difference. I know I appreciate the extra strength in a 10K that I get from running training runs which are longer than race distance.
  • popsiderpopsider ✭✭✭
    As Johnny says, there's nothing magical about running a 26 or even a 20 in training, it's the cumulative effect you are after. You could run lots of 13 milers and it would still prepare you for the marathon - it just wouldn't be the most efficient way to do it. It takes something like an hours steady running for most people for the body to be functioning at its most efficient in terms of distance running - so it's a balancing act of running long to spend the most time training most effectively whilst not causing damage.

    If you were training seriously for a half marathon the schedule would be pretty similar to a marathon schedule - you'd still have the long runs in there probably 18-20 milers.
  • Just as a wee change of topic: Does anyone know why there's such a discrepancy between the schedules offered? Either you're 'sub 4:30' or you're a 'just get you round'.

    I find that a bit upsetting because I don't need a run/walk schedule. I already run regularly, albeit slowly, and I'm aiming for around 5 hr 30 running the whole way.

    I've run one marathon already (badly) and several half-marathons without schedules, and I wanted to try to prepare for the FLM with a proper schedule and see if I can improve the experience (read: not hit every possible physical wall along the way image )but the only options I seem to have is one that is far too fast for my abilities, or one that's too basic. Has anyone got the same problem? Or can anyone help to point me in the right direction to a schedule that's around the 5-5 1/2 hour mark?



  • From a psychological point I like to know I can cover the distance and know how much further I've got to run to make me feel more at ease. Isn't that always in the back of your mind? I ran virtually 13 miles on a number of occasions before The Great North Run so had it in my mind that I knew I could finish the course.
  • You don't know you can run a marathon at a given race pace until you run it at that pace - just covering the distance and racing the distance are two different things.   
  • I wrote only of covering the distance...
  • Just thought ti would tell you of my experiance of 20 mile + runs.

    Trained for my 1st marathon at London this year was advised to only do up to 23 max  only problem was i underestimated the distance on the longest  run and ended up doing 24. 7 !! was out for 3 hours 50!!!!

    Ran Ashby 20 a week later was fine got round in 2 .47 but come London six weeks after the mammoth long run i found it very tough going after 21 miles, mile splits went from 8. 30s up to nearly 10 mins!

    So i think the long run was far too long for me, so i wouldnt be too concerned in not running more than 20 m in training ,  i would go 22 tops, in fact thats the way im going to be going in training for Brighton marathon next year.

  • I don't have specific marathon experience.... but I would certainly say that time on your feet is more relevant than a long-run that matches race distance.

    If you're training for a 3-hr marathon, I'd say it'd be better to be hitting a higher mileage week-on-week and doing long-runs that give you 3 hours on your feet.... rather than putting too much into a long run that's going to break you down.

     I'm happy doing a long-run of no more than 90 minutes in 10k training... and even that is probably more than I need... and I've run good times on doing 60 min long runs.

     Weekly mileage/the quality of the sessions you do has probably got far more to do with it. I'm not the most experienced runner in the world... but I have dipped under 40 mins a couple of times for 10k so I'm not talking complete shit.

  • Ran a marathon last month on one 17 mile long run, and a handful of 13 milers.  I have a highish weekly mileage (40-50 miles).  Ran the whole way, did not hit the wall and only slowed slightly in the last 2 miles.  From my own experience it is the cumulative effect of the whole training plan rather than individual sessions, and as Squal says, time on your feet rather than distance, especially as you are running the LSR slower than race pace.
  • OP: why not run up to 23 miles max instead of 20?

    training plans are there for guidance only IMO
  • @theBorne you do know the ops thread is 4 years old?

    @TT9 what is that link, seems to be some sort or java script or something, not advisable to click it.

  • paulj48 wrote (see)

    @theBorne you do know the ops thread is 4 years old?

    Yes, and it wasn't written by me!

    It was the account, in a previous life... imageimage

  • @paulj48 thanks so, so much for pointing this out - you're a real hero, aren't you?
  • i know this thread is old...but the below quote is misleading. Only a get you round schedule would say do only 10miles for a half marathon,  a long run of 15-16miles is pretty advisable.

     For a marathon, over distance is never advisable unless you're some kind of invincible super hero runner image

    Siance wrote (see)
    Don't worry! Similar training principles are used for half marathons too - advice is to train to 10 miles, so you'll be able to manage the extra 3. That's just doubled for a marathon.

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  • I also decided to ignore the maximum of 20 as I had to know I could cover the distance without worrying about the wall that is always mentioned. I did 25 miles three weeks before my first marathon. I worked for me as ran my first ever marathon (Liverpool 2011) in 3:33 and I'm 48.

    I must add that this was against the advice from my running club but I know others who've used similar techniques.

    I use a similar tactic of 17 mile long runs within a couple of weeks of half marathons.

  • I've just downloaded the "free" sub 3.30 training programme and the one for subscribers and notice that the subscribers prog has very little hills runs in it, whereas the other one, which I followed earlier in the year, has lots of hill training.  Has anyone tried both training programmes ?  (I did 3.39 at Halstead and I'm 57 so the hills and intervals worked!)


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