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How Far Ought to You Run Earlier than a Marathon or Half Marathon?


As race day will get nearer, you’re beginning to fear in case your longest future is lengthy sufficient. Questioning if 10 miles is a future? Do you want to run greater than 20 miles? How far must you run earlier than a marathon or a half marathon is a vital query.

As a working coach, I spend quite a lot of time speaking you out of doing MORE than it’s best to. Which could not be what you’d anticipate to listen to, nevertheless it’s true. Doing extra usually mentally makes us really feel higher, however on the expense of our efficiency.

Immediately we’re going to dive in to the distances you want to full and why they’re sufficient. How far you run earlier than a half marathon or how far you run earlier than a marathon are depending on various elements we’ll talk about.

Plus we’re going to bust some myths like you may’t run over 3 hours!

We’re going to deal with this query for each distances since you’ll see quite a lot of overlap!

How Lengthy Ought to Your Longest Lengthy Run Be?

The vast majority of half marathon coaching plans for novices will high out at 10 miles and for marathon runners 18-20 miles. Does that imply it’s the longest future it’s best to do?

The explanations that working coaches so usually advocate you comply with a plan from begin to end is that all of them construct in the direction of peak runs barely otherwise.

I’ve in contrast the high marathon coaching plans right here.

  • You possibly can see that whereas the Hanson Methodology may advocate solely a 16 mile lengthy, it’s based mostly on excessive mileage and excessive depth the remainder of the week.
  • In the meantime a Strolling Marathon Coaching Plan might concentrate on a protracted stroll day of 4-5 hours relatively than a selected distance.
  • Superior marathon coaching plans will usually comprise 22 and probably even 24 mile lengthy runs.

how far should you run before a marathon

Ought to You Run 26 Miles Earlier than a Marathon?

No. Arduous cease until you’re a very long time runner who can also be coaching for an ultramarathon or probably an Olympic Qualifier. Although truthfully whereas elite runners hit enormous 100 mile weeks, they’re not often working 26.2 within the coaching for a purpose race.

The rationale we don’t run 26.2 miles previous to the race is the period of time it takes to get well from this future.

That restoration time can impression the standard of your subsequent run and set you up for harm if you happen to don’t do sufficient simple days or take break day.

Ought to You Run 13 Miles Earlier than a Half Marathon?

Now we begin to see a little bit little bit of a change within the reply as a result of for knowledgeable runners it’s a particular risk, whereas for first time half marathon runners it’s a NO WAY.

Very long time runners aiming for a half marathon PR might run as much as 16 miles. That is what I’ve accomplished myself up to now and what works for a lot of athletes working for 1:40 and quicker races.

NOT REQUIRED, nevertheless it does work for some athletes. That is largely since you’ve pushed your endurance a bit farther after which there’s a psychological element to figuring out that on race day you don’t must go as far so you are feeling extra assured choosing up the tempo.

For a primary time half marathon save that HUGE milestone for race day! Don’t freakout about not having lined the complete distance in coaching.

Once more because of this you comply with a good newbie half marathon coaching plan.

  • Throughout coaching you’re constructing your whole endurance
  • Every week you’re working on barely fatigued legs from the gap and any pace work
  • After your longest run (roughly 10 miles for first timers), you go in to taper
  • Throughout taper for a race, your physique has time to totally get well
  • Race day sees your muscle tissue full of glycogen and in peak form to carry out.
  • Plus you get the added bonus of race day adrenaline which can carry you a lot farther than you understand!

This graph is a superb visible of how restoration lets you slingshot previous your present stage of health when used appropriately.

suercompensation graph

How Far Do You Have to Run Earlier than a Marathon?

Let’s break this down a little bit bit extra that can assist you perceive what the longest run of your coaching ought to appear like.

Listed here are the elements we wish to soak up to consideration:

Expertise Stage

How lengthy have you ever be working? Is that this your first marathon? In that case we wish to err on the facet of a extra conservative future to keep away from any accidents that may forestall you from making it to the beginning line.

Extra skilled runners are sometimes going to be doing extra or longer runs. And by skilled we don’t imply you’ve run 1 marathon, we really imply that you simply’ve been working for years with out harm and you know the way your physique responds to lengthy runs.

Your Tempo

As a substitute of specializing in the mileage for a future, most runners ought to be contemplating whole time on toes. In actual fact, it’s why lots of the lengthy runs I prescribe have a run interval adopted by a couple of miles of strolling.

Complete time on toes issues.

Coach Greg McMillian makes use of the next system for runners underneath a 5:00 marathon:

Most future = [Marathon time – 30 minutes] as much as [marathon time + 15 minutes]

In different phrases in case your marathon purpose time is 4:00 then you definitely may do a future of three:30 to 4:30 hours. Whereas this high finish is unlikely to be on most coaching plans for a 4 hour runner, it’s one technique that really takes tempo in to account.

Merely saying 20 miles ought to be your future may not be correct if it takes you 5 hours. We’d nonetheless cap your time on toes at 4:30 typically and fewer in others based mostly on extra elements.

Damage or Sickness Historical past

Some runners merely are inclined to get injured extra simply. Could possibly be resulting from genetics, working gait, lack of power coaching or the basic coaching errors: an excessive amount of, too quickly, too quick.

Both means when you’ve got discovered your self plagued up to now with getting injured or sick throughout marathon coaching it pays to be extra conservative with the long term.

On this case, you could discover a larger profit from doing a future that maxes out at 16 miles after which doing 8-10 miles the day after. That is much like what number of extremely runners practice. It reduces the stress of the complete future and forces you to observe doing an honest run on drained legs the next day.

longest long run


Keep in mind that each coaching cycle and run will probably be completely different. Which suggests you could want to regulate the period of your future resulting from life, working within the warmth and humidity or a shift in objectives.

Don’t anticipate them to all really feel good.

I really like this assertion that about 1/3 of your coaching ought to be enjoyable, 1/3 ought to really feel arduous and 1/3 ought to be simple. It’s a reminder that it modifications and studying to embrace the arduous helps on race day.

When Ought to You Do Your Longest Marathon Run?

After months of slowly build up your mileage, the largest future for the marathon or half marathon ought to be TWO weeks from race day.

Old fashioned coaching plans used 3 weeks, however almost each working coach I do know now agrees with the expertise I’ve seen in our athletes of a two week taper.

Which means two weekends earlier than your race you’ll do your large run on Saturday or Sunday after which start to taper. The week earlier than your race your future will most likely be 8-10 miles for the marathon and 6-8 for the half marathon.

Can Your Lengthy Run Be Over 3 Hours?

Sure. As famous above there are conditions the place you’ll completely must observe being in your toes for longer than three hours. That is an unlucky generally relayed message that isn’t backed in research.

An enormous variety of runners will probably be doing 3:30 lengthy runs, run/walkers and walkers might completely be on the market for 4 hours.

That is NOT to say it’s best to drive your future to be longer than 3 hours simply because you may. Observe the plan that guides you thru what’s greatest to your objectives and your physique.

How Many 20 Milers Ought to I Run?

Now that we’ve satisfied you 20 miles is a lot for the long term, the query turns to how usually must you run them.

First time marathon runners will possible solely do 1 run of 20 miles throughout peak week. You’ll most likely additionally solely do 1 run of 18-19 miles. The purpose is just to construct your capability for working lengthy, nothing extra.

Skilled runners who’re aiming for a Boston Qualifying time, will possible have a few 20 mile lengthy runs, plus 18 mile runs that embody purpose marathon tempo miles.

What’s the Shortest Lengthy Run To Run A Marathon?

As a coach I all the time hate this query as a result of it’s normally a sign that you simply haven’t accomplished sufficient coaching, however are decided to do the race and both hate it or get injured.

I’d say at least 16 miles, assuming you haven’t been following the Hanson Methodology.

Working a half marathon may make you are feeling just like the marathon is totally doable and so that you decide one out in only a few months. I really like the keenness, however belief me when you hit 18 miles it appears like a complete completely different factor than the half marathon.

Your bones, ligaments and tendons want time to adapt to longer distances.

Further coaching sources:

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