4 Ways to Use Long Runs for Marathon Training

Plan Your Week

During training, runners may miss a long run due to injury, illness or time constraints—yet there's no mass exodus on race day and no empty corrals. A runner can still finish a race despite missing a training run.

Missing a long run can cause anxiety for a runner who fears the missed training session will affect him or her on race day, but it's important to understand that an individual run won't ruin an entire race.

If you have to miss a long run, don't dwell on it. Continue your training and figure out a better way to manage your schedule. Plan your whole week instead of planning an individual run. Think of it like planning a birthday party. You can put all your time and energy into baking the best birthday cake, but it's the countless details (invitations, games, party hats, balloons) that influence the overall experience.

More: The 3-Month Marathon Training Plan

Run Based on Your Current Fitness

The following equation can help you manage the long run component of training.

Your Long Run Potential (LRP) = (total weeks of marathon training) x (average weekly run volume) x (mileage factor).

The mileage factor is determined by your weekly average run volume: if you run 35 miles a week or less, your mileage factor is .0625. If you run 36 miles a week or more, then your mileage factor is .0375.

So, if you're in week six of your program, and you're averaging 35 miles a week, your math looks like this: (6 x 35 x .0625) = 13.1 miles.

If you're in week two and average 30 miles a week, your long run potential is only 3.75 miles (round it up to four). According to these calculations, you're not ready for a long run at this point in your training.

If you're in week 12 and you run 45 miles a week, your LRP is 20.25 miles. Please note: just because the math says you can run 20 miles doesn't necessarily mean you should. Remember that quality, consistent training can prepare you to run long—the math is just a guideline. If you've never run more than 6 miles, a 15-mile run will be a challenge. Yes it's possible, but it may not be the best idea.

More: 22 Essential Pieces of Marathon Training Advice

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