Many runners with a specific time goal in mind are doing great at the beginning of the race. The trouble starts for most in the later part of a race and when it is hard to maintain goal pace. I’ve said it before and will say it again, a marathon race does not start until mile 20 (32km), the miles before this are just a warm up. During the first part of a marathon race you’ll most probably feel great, you have rested your body the days before your race and everyone around you is excited to run fast. Yet, you have to learn to hold back and reserve your energy for the later part of a race.
In today’s video I will discuss my favorite marathon long training run. This is a 20 mile (32km) run with the first 15 miles (24km) at low heart rate MAF pace (Max Aerobic Function HR, following Dr. Phil Maffetone’s 180-formula, for more details see this video). The last 5 miles (8km) are ran at 15 seconds per mile (10 seconds per km) faster than marathon pace.
This run is supposed to be hard, to prepare yourself mentally and physically for what’s to come on race day, without putting too much wear and tear on your body by running the entire distance at or below marathon pace.
Typically in a training cycle I aim to run at least 3 to 5 long runs of 20 miles / 32km, with a few of these runs ending the last 25% distance below marathon pace. You can change this run to shorter distances too. For example 16 miles (26km) first 12 miles (19km) at MAF pace, then 4 miles (7km) at 15 seconds per mile (10 seconds per km) below marathon pace.
As you will see in this run commute video, not all runs go according to plan and that’s ok. We try, possibly fail, learn and try again. What is your favorite type of long run to train for a marathon? Please let me know in the comments below!