Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Long Run: How Long is Too Long?

I'm marathon training again and it feels so good!  I am nervous to type these words because I am terrified of jynxing myself.  I am only halfway through Week 1 of Boston training but I am so excited.  After dealing with my Tendinitis issues and then medical issues, I am so ready to be back in the swing of things.  Running feels so great and I've been pain-free!  Crossing my fingers and toes that doesn't change.

I love how mathematical my training plan is -- thank you Mr. Jack Daniels!  Math makes sense to me and I enjoy that everything is specific to my paces. 

One aspect of my training plan that is different from other programs I've used is that most runs are followed by (8) 20-second strides.  This is supposed to help with turnover, speed and form.  It is such a great way to end a run.  I also noticed that some of my long runs involve intervals of MP (Marathon Pace).  I used to try to incorporate similar intervals in past training so I like that it is officially on my plan with specific paces and mileage. 

The man behind the math

The greatest difference from prior plans is a shorter long run distance.  I am not scheduled to run a 20 miler at all before the marathon.  My last plan called for 3 or 4 20-milers. 

I remember a fantastic 20-miler I had during Chicago Marathon training.  I felt completely ready for the marathon, but it was still months away.  Sure enough, within the next month I was injured and that grand feeling was completely dismantled.  It wasn't the 20 miler's fault.  But maybe if I didn't do quite so many long, long runs I could've avoided injury.  Jack Daniels actually has a very interesting video on why there is no need to run quite so long during marathon training. 


Watch more video of Saucony Thirsty Thursdays with Jack Daniels on flotrack.org


Jack Daniels believes long runs shouldn't last more than 2 1/2 hours.  For faster runners, this works out great because they can still get a lot of miles in.  For slower runners, this reduces the risk of injury but doesn't allow as many miles. 

I, personally, like to run 20 miles at least once or twice during marathon training, simply because it gives me confidence. 

How long are your long runs during marathon training?
How long is too long?

For more info on the Run S.M.A.R.T. Project click here.


38 comments:

  1. eeeee! you're back! this makes me want to go running. not kidding.

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  2. When I ran with the LA Roadrunners in 2003 it was coached by a former elite marathoner. We ran an 18, two 20s, and a 22. But we had lots of back-down weeks. I'm doing the same for Carlsbad - I have a backdown week every other week. So far, seems to be working! I've gotten through the 18 and 20 without injury. Just gotta get through the next two!

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  3. I love how you are following Jack Daniels, he is the man! He has a good point that no elite runner is going to do a 40 mile training run in preparation for the marathon, haha

    But I guess if you think about it, generally the more miles you do in preparation for a race makes that race distance seem shorter. Basically if you do long enough runs that distances start to not feel as challenging, seems like your training worked. I guess with a marathon the distance is long such that you have to be careful to not get injured doing long training runs in preparation for it.

    I've only done 1 marathon, but just seems like 20 miles is long enough of a training run for a marathon.

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  4. I think it depends on the runner to some extent, but personally anything beyond 21 miles gets into a territory where I can't recover properly in only a couple days to keep a training plan going, and I set myself up for injury. One plan I did went to 23 miles, and I ended up with quad issues just above my knee soon afterwards, that lingered into and beyond the race. 20 miles 'feels' about right, but I don't have anything scientific around that - no math.

    I've considered incorporating Jack Daniels into some of my training, but not in the sense that you've done it. Very interesting video clip.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hm... I did two 20 milers before my first marathon in Nov 2011. Then I did one more 20 miler two weeks later and two weeks before my 2nd marathon in Dec 2011. Woo if that wasn't written in a confusing manner, I don't know what is!

    Anyway, I was lucky and didn't have any nagging injuries before the marathons, but if I were more injury prone, I'd skip out on the longer runs.

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  6. I don't specifically train for marathons. For my 50 miler I think I did three and for my 100 miler I'll be doing one every week (or longer)

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  7. So glad to hear you're back to running! (I'll keep my fingers and toes crossed for you.) :)

    As for marathon training -- I did 2 long-long runs (20 and 22) before my one marathon. I like the idea of running shorter distances, but I think I'd worry I didn't train "enough."

    I'm going to have to figure this out soon, though, as I want to run 26.2 in 2012! I'm looking forward to hearing how your training plan shakes out!

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  8. I HAVE MISSED YOU!!! I am so happy that you are running again AND training for BOSTON!!! I can't wait to hear all about it. I partly think that my LONG runs were part of my injuries too. I might do just 2 20 milers for this next one instead of my usual 3 20's and at least one 22. You are amazing and I hope you have a great weekend!

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  9. Hey!! I saw your post on Amanda's blog! I am a good friend of hers an will be running Boston too!! I hope we will all do a big blogger meet up dinner there one night. Anyway, this is a very interesting post. I ran my first marathon this may and did a lot of fast MP runs of 18-20 miles and ended up with a stress fracture so I def agree less is more. I have a new coach this time around and am excited for what he has in store!!

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  10. Yay for being back in the game!! So happy for you.

    This is definitely a tough one. I believe everyone is different. For me, doing at least 3 20-milers is in order. But I do agree that after a certain period of time on your feet, you get diminishing returns. I would put that time at 3 hours.

    One article I read once suggested that if you can't get your 20 done in 3 hours (and I'm sure you CAN) to break it into two runs/one day. So if you were to follow the 2 1/2 hour rule, maybe add a second 30-min. run later in the day. Just an idea!

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