Long runs during a marathon training cycle

We’re officially 19 weeks out from the Boston marathon.

Why does this matter? Because a lot of marathon training plans are 18 weeks. They say it takes about 18 weeks to go from easy 4-6 milers, to the peak 20 or 22-mile long run, before tapering for the big 26.2.

Let’s talk about the long runs.

I’ve maintained a decent base this year, and my weekend runs range from 8-10 miles right now. That said, I’m good to start my Boston long runs around 10+. Which gives me a few more weeks mid-cycle to experiment with longer/different long runs.

For every previous cycle, the longest run I would do was 20 miles. I’d do two of them, and it’s worked out just dandy. So this time around, with my current base, I know I can handle bumping up my mileage and running 3 20’ers.

Over the years and blogs and marathoner friends I’ve talked to, I’m hearing more and more runners going up to 22 miles as their max long run distance. If this was my first or second marathon, I wouldn’t entertain that idea, but Boston will be #5 for me. So I find myself considering this change in long run planning.

For now, I’m tentatively considering doing either:
a.) 2 20-milers and 1 22 miler
b.) 3 20-milers

I’m not a huge number/stats-crunching type of runner. Which is why I wanted to blog about all this today… I’m cool with the long runs either way, butI’d love your feedback! 

What would you do: option a.) or b.)?
How many 20+ mile long runs do you hit while marathon training? 

Either way, I know I’ll get the mileage in just fine, and the Boston 26.2 will be nothing short of a blast. I hear there’s magic in those 26.2 ;)

10 Comments Add yours

  1. I like option A simply because I do think that doing a 22 miler is a nice confidence booster going into the marathon. But do what works for you! Everyone is different on however many 20 milers they prefer. I wouldn’t do too many as you don’t want to arrive to the marathon overtrained but just find a balance with what works for you. Do you make up your own training plan? It’s nice to have a training plan to be able to adhere to :-) Whatever you choose I know you will do great because you are a super fast mama!

    1. Efo says:

      I agree, I think the 22 miler would be a good boost of confidence. I usually modify a Hal Higdons training plan, or just make it up as I go along. PS. that puppy video on your blog today was ADORABLE. Loved it.

  2. misszippy1 says:

    Well…you know my way of thinking…a 22 makes me feel better on the mental end. Do that once or twice and then what’s four more? (famous last words, right?). But seriously, you are in great shape, a good marathoner and experienced. You can handle it!

    1. Efo says:

      Thanks, Amanda. Good luck at CIM this weekend! Crush it!

  3. Melon says:

    I would say the 2 20s and a 22 miler. Once you hit the 20 mile mark in your LR, what’s another 2 miles? I think psychologically (not that you need the help!) it’ll make the end of your race(s) stronger. I loved my 22 miler before my first (and best!) marathon, to this day it is still one of my fave runs.

  4. meghan says:

    Alright. So I’m training for my first full on January 13th (Disney) and have gotten mixed opinions about running a 22. I take from one of your comments that you wouldn’t recommend hitting 22 in my first cycle? So far I’ve gotten up to 17 then 18. I’ve got 20 next weekend and two after that. Should I jump one up to 22 or just stick with two 20s? Just looking for advice and you seem to have an opinion I would value on the topic.

    1. Efo says:

      Congrats on training for your first marathon! I would stick with two 20s, instead of going up to a 22, but it’s all personal preference. If your current training plan has been working well for you, then stick to it! Good luck!

  5. Lisa says:

    I’m in the 22 mile club – for the mental confidence for sure. I’ve opted for that (plus anywhere between 2 and 4 20’s) for all my 12 marathons. My ultra doesn’t count; that was just pure craziness :)

    You seem like a very smart runner so I’m sure you’ll do what’s best for you. Go Boston!

  6. kaitwatts says:

    My first marathon we followed a plan that had us do 25 miles. A confident booster, but unnecessary and I ended up with a stress fracture. Then my next 2 I never went over 20 and it worked out just fine. For my next marathon I would probably play it by ear. I’m not sure how much stronger 22 miles would make you stronger. However, if I was out for my long run and the day was right, I’d put in two extra miles.

  7. for my first marathon i did two 20 milers, a 22 miler && a 24 miler.
    for my second, i squeaked by with one 20 miler.
    for my third, i pulled out two 20 milers in a 12 week training period.

    excited for you!

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