Training Question - How long should my longest run be?

Earlier today I was pondering how long my longest run should be in preparation for a marathon.

For those of you who have run a marathon before, what is the longest run you did in the weeks leading up to the race?

I have 10 weeks of training to go and my current plan of increased distances are:
  • 2 weeks from now: 20-21 miles
  • 4 weeks from now: 21-22 miles
  • 6 weeks from now: 22-23 miles

I wasn't sure of how I would be handling the distances when I started this plan but I seem to be holding up well and recovering quickly.

I had a comment from Matt from Maui Runner on my last blog entry, who anticipated my question (somehow) and he thought I could go to 24 miles or so. I think I could and still have time to do a proper taper before race day.

So what do you say? Stick to the plan or up the mile ranges by 1 for my next three longest runs?


  1. I wish I knew the answer to that one, too! At the Kona marathon dinner, Frnak Shorter suggested that runners make 20 the longest run. This time around, my longest run was 23 and I think it gave me some confidence in the later miles.

  2. running 24 or more miles for your long run will build you mentally and physically for race day. However, you do not want to leave your race in your training and you need to be healthy race day. If you want to try a 24 miler (or more), I would suggest week 4. You need to be as well rested as you can for such a long run, and it will not hurt to simulate how you would prepare for race day. Running your longest on week 4 will give you 6 weeks before the race - lots of time for a full recovery and it will be 4 weeks out from your current longest run. Week 2 and 6, I would buffer around week 4. Maybe 18-20 miles. Week 8(?) maybe 12- 16 miles. And remember an ice bath will help your recovery greatly after these long efforts. Happy training.

  3. @Tina, 20 miles for the longest has me a bit nervous for my own confidence building. If race day was closer, sure I would have to do it because it would only be another 10K or so, right? Just makes me nervous.

    @Matt, I like what you are proposing making the 24 miles sooner rather than later. Good perspective in terms of rest. I think doing 22 miles two weeks from now is feasible, then 24 four weeks from now, with 20 six weeks from now...if I am feeling strong. No real reason to do another 22 mile run if I have proven to myself I can do 24. My training schedule then started factoring the taper with decreased distance in long runs but other runs remaining pretty much the same in distance. Right now, 8 weeks from now (2 weeks prior to the race), I have 12-13 miles on my schedule.

    Mahalo to all for the feedback! It is really helping and reconfirming my confidence in my schedule and current progress.

  4. I always hear that you don't need to go over 20. Some plans have you doing it, but most don't.

  5. Aloha Courtney, I had heard the same thing which is why I had to ask what people are actually doing. Another 10K on race day if I trained only to 20 miles seems a big leap. I know they say the excitement of the day, etc. will help you through but seems like a lot. I will just need to be really attentive to how my body is feeling. I have also read it is better to undertrain than to overtrain....


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