Is the long run too long?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

So, yesterday, in my trusty inbox, I got my daily Runner's World email. The lead article caught my attention: Is your long long run too long? After I immediately thought to myself, YES, I decided to read the article. Read the article here

It's an interesting read. In the event that you didn't immediately go read the article (even though I told you to!), it essentially makes the point that marathon runners train up to 20 miles, but on the day of the race, run 26. The author was questioning whether half runners really need to train beyond seven miles, since, theoretically, the body is capable of running six more miles than they've trained for. He argued that it might be better to go shorter distances but focus on speed as opposed to longer distances that are slower. There were LOTS of comments on the article about how this is completely wrong -- how if you don't train for high enough mileage, your body will burn out. One commenter made the point that if you're looking at competing equally, you'd want to train up to ten miles, as that would make you go only three miles longer on the day of the actual race. 

I'm not sure what I think about all this yet, but it has started me thinking. Since I'm not so much feeling the runs lately, anything that gets me running shorter mileage might help to motivate me more. Our boys track coach (an expert on running) told me early on in my training that if I could run seven miles, I could run a half. So, I'm contemplating cutting back on longer runs for this race. 

On the flip side, it was during my 12 mile training run that I realized how tight my IT Band was and was able to work on it before race day. If I hadn't run that far, I don't know if I would have discovered it before the blinding pain kicked in. 

Regardless, yesterday I had a great day at school. I wanted to go shopping after school, but instead, like a good little runner, I went to the gym and got on the treadmill (because I was not about to run in 83 degrees). I ran slow. I ran long. And it took forever. But I did it. That's saying something!


  1. Hey...I ran only 7 miles before doing my first and only half marathon so far and I do not recommend it! race day was tough for me and i wish i had trained more LOL

  2. I have to go with Sheila on this one. I've done one 1/2 marathon & my longest run was somewhere between 10-12 (can't remember) & I suffered during the race. Several months later I ran a full marathon with my longest run between 20-22 & I can tell you at the 1/2 way mark I felt amazing...the difference was unbelievable. I actually felt better after the full marathon than I did after the 1/2. I don't know what plan you are following but maybe try just 3 runs per week but make sure you get in the long runs because those are the ones that will carry you ***in my fully biased opinion***. I have to reread your post, I'm not sure you asked for any opinions, lol. Here's something else you might try: Jeff Galloway offers a run/walk training plan. If you run a 10 minute mile, you would run for 3 minutes then walk 1 minute & repeat this for your long runs until you've done the entire run. This is supposed to let you recover faster, less injury & not be so drained. I've just started doing a little of this over the last few weeks due to my hip/tail pain. I did it for my last 8 mile run & didn't feel as sore as usual. I use a 4:1 or 6:1 or 9:1 (I don't always follow the rules of a plan). Anyway, lots of food for thought :) Good luck on whichever path you choose. Oh, and maybe you just need to rest for a few days or a week & then get back at it? With RA, allergy season, weather changes, etc. there may be other factors affecting you. Keep us posted :)

  3. So, essentially what you guys are saying is that I'm not allowed to be lazy and not run long distances and just hope for the best? Ugh. Well, that makes sense. :)

    I'm hoping this weekend will recharge those batteries. I think I really need spring break. My students have been total energy sucks this week! I blame the nice weather!

  4. Gosh you read between the lines so well! Just kidding. You can always try this theory you read about but I don't think you'll be happy. A couple things to think about...how many long runs do you actually have before the race? Looks like a max of 6, you can do 6. How long does it take you to run a mile? sometimes thinking I only have to run 20 minutes longer this long run is easier than thinking in terms of how many miles you have to run.

    I've read about people using the walk/run method I mentioned when they have to do long runs on the treadmill also. I know this feels like going backwards but Jeff says people have shaved 10/20/30 minutes off their time using this method.

    Barring a health issue causing you to be unmotivated then we move back to what started this frenzy in the first place...are you a dreamer or a doer??? Bring it home!!!

  5. Okay, you're right! Doer not a dreamer! Six more long runs and then I'm done! I think I am going to have to do more of the run/walk method... back on track this week, I swear!

  6. Make sure you are well first! I think you might like the intervals, it doesn't beat you up so much and you don't feel as worn out when you're done. Let me know waht you think if you try it.


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