What is the longest recommended distance to do while training for a marathon? 

There are lots of discussions and opinions about this topic in the running world (which is likely why you asked, as it is confusing!). It also depends on the experience level and speed of the runner, which I will explain in a bit. Steve and I believe that 20 miles is enough for most runners to be confident that they can finish the race. It also reduces the likelihood of burning out or using up your race during the training. While there may be a small additional bump of confidence that comes from climbing up to 22-24 miles in training, it is also putting A LOT of pounding on your legs, and that kind of time on your feet takes away from the rest of training. 

I mentioned about experience level and speed. I believe that 20 miles is enough of a long run to be ready to complete a first marathon. Keep in mind that for every single one of us, the goal of our first marathon should be to complete it.  We need enough confidence to know we can finish, but we should reach that 20 mile mark, which we have been up to in training, feeling good, certainly a lot better than we had been feeling at the 20 mile mark in training (race day adrenaline and taper come to help), and then those final six miles are where we work through the race part of the day. 

Once you have done a marathon and your body knows 26 miles, as you get more experienced with them, I do think you can nudge up a little towards 22 or even 24 miles to prepare, BUT that’s only as long as it does not go too far with time on your feet. In my elite days, while training for my later marathons, I would run up to 25 miles in training, but I was not out there for more than three hours. Once you get over about 3 hours, 30 minutes, you are doing more damage than gaining additional fitness. You are also likely going to be very sore and tired for the next 4-5 days (I know I was after those really long runs, even if they were easy), which means you may have to skip a workout that week, which is a critical piece of your training. 

If you have a question that you’d like answered, you can email kat@runningforreal.com and she’ll pass it along to Tina!

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The Mile 20: Mental Training to Win Your Race course will give you the mental training techniques to not only become more confident as a runner, but as a person. We begin with that foundation in building you up as a human being first because we can’t be confident as runners until we take care of our confidence in ourselves. You’re also going to learn techniques to handle every race day situation that could be thrown at you. You’ll have specific tactics and tools that will help you handle race day panic, race day stress, and things that could go wrong. You’ll learn to understand the signals that your body is giving you during the race and how to handle them and also how to protect yourself from feelings of failure.

We runners can be quite hard on ourselves and this is going to help you to have a healthy perspective. This is a 12 week course. Each week we’ll have a video for you, and pdf worksheets that you can download and fill in to help really bring home those messages. 

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