Sunday, July 31, 2011

Is 20 Enough?

This week I am finishing my first, but unofficial week of marathon training.  Recap post to come.  I have decided to go with Hal Higdon's Intermediate 1 program.  One reason I chose this program is because it has two 20 miles runs scheduled, and this year I am attempting to run two full marathon's a month apart from each other.

Yesterday on my "long" run of the week, 9 miles, I was running with the coordinator of our run club.  She also happens to be a level II USAT coach.  She is not coaching us in run club, she just coordinates the runs.  We started talking and my training plan came up.  The short story is, she believes that running only 20 miles is not enough for marathon training and thinks I should run more.  From all the reading and talking to other runners that I have done and I think 20 is enough.  Less risk of injury and you aren't running your race pace, so you are out there a little longer.

But her comments did get me thinking.  Should I try running more than 20 in these training runs.  I have a while to go before I am faced with this, but want to be prepared when the time comes.  I am hoping (knock on wood) that I am healthy for both of these races.  My first marathon I had tendinitis in my right knee and it started hurting 2 miles into the race.  My second one, I had bronchitis.  So my goal this time is to not just finish, but to have much better times.  I would like to run 4:15:00 this year, for at least one of the races.  Knee year I did a 5 hour(not to mention it was Austin, which is a very hilly place to be running with and injured knee), and bronchitis year I did a 4:40.

So I am asking you guys what you have done and think?  Is 20 miles enough?


  1. When I trained for my marathon this spring, my longest was 23-24 miles and that was once before my taper. I did 2 20 mile runs before that... and I believe Team in Training caps their marathoners as 20 before a race. I think it's going to be what your most comfortable with... for it being my first one I needed the confidence... Happy running!!

  2. I wouldn't do more than 20. I never have in either of the training sessions I did for my marathons. Marathon 1 was 4:29 and Marathon 2 was 3:39.

    The pounding that the body takes on those 20 or more mile runs is tremendous and that is a lot of recovery time that is needed.

    Stick to the plan that works for you but I would not do more than 20 miles.

  3. I don't think it's necessary, especially as marathon #1 will serve as a super long run for marathon #2. I've personally always liked to stick in a third 20 as insurance, but that's just me. Remember, it's all about the time, not necessarily the miles. Europeans usually just do 30k (around 18 miles) for their long runs, just because it's a nice round number... kind of like 20. Maybe you can add more miles in recovery or maintenance runs during the week instead of on your long runs?

  4. I think 20 is enough. My training last year had 2 20's and a 22 and I think the 22 was a little much. Plus I don't want you to be faster than me at Honolulu :-) I think we both could do a Honolulu 4:15 easy.

  5. I want to go into one marathon with a 22. I have never went in with more than a 20 and always wondering what if I had done a 20 so this time I am doing 2 18s, 2 20s and a 22. I am really hoping for a sub 4 this time around.

  6. HAHAHA alright all I can say is this... read your hubby's post on Certified Coaches :)

    YES 20 is enough. Typically that is the most that the majority of plans have you run.

    There is a reason for this. As you start getting into higher mileages is when your body is more prone to injuries. Typically training plans have you build your endurance through middle distances and shorter tempo runs and have very minimal 18+ mile runs because of the injury potential.

    Here is how I view it. You chose a plan, STICK TO THAT PLAN! Do not go listening to other people. What works for them may NOT work for you or your body.

    We ran a marathon based on running only 4 days a week. My wife got a 27+ minute PR because we stuck to the plan. That is my advice... well that and never second guess your plan :)

    Keep up the good work!!!

  7. I got nothing, but reading all of the above comments is priceless!!!

  8. totally agree with MO
    pick a plan stick to the plan and what works for some will not work for others

    it took me over two years and four marathon schedules to finally figure out what I need exactly. Do what feels best within the plan...and remember ...this is for fun! :)

  9. It all depends on the plan you are using. Much like MattyO said. Whatever it is, stick to and trust in the plan. I've done a couple plans (include Hal's Intermediate one) and in the end, they all get you across the finish line. I'm going off memory, but I believe that Hal plan has a week with both a 10 and 20 miler in the same week. With this sort of week, 20 is more than enough. If you were doing 22-23 miles for your long run, I couldn't see doing 10 miles earlier in the week so the total weekly mileage ends up being the same.

    That said, I did have a long run of 23 miles in the run up to last marathon and I felt that it helped me PR. However, I don't think my body (or mind) could have handled that sort of mileage when training for my 1st, 2nd or even 3rd marathon.

  10. 20 it is! Thanks for all the input!