Yesterday was the first of my planned 32km, 20 mile, training runs before October’s Toronto Waterfront Marathon. I generally try to fit in four of these runs while I train for a marathon. My plan is to get in the second one this upcoming Sunday. I will then cut back my distance for a week before I get in the final two.
These runs are one of the most important workouts in marathon training. Not only do they get you used to running for 2.5-3 hours, they also provide a good opportunity to test nutrition and hydration strategies for race day. It is probably the best opportunity for you to test what might work, allowing you to come up with a plan to tackle race day.
Obviously, due to the distance involved, these workouts present a challenge. The biggest challenge being the time it takes to complete the run. For example, yesterday’s run took me 2:53 to complete.
In order to minimize the impact of my longer runs on the day I try to plan them for early in the morning. Yesterday I was out the door at 5:30 in order to gets started while everyone at home was sleeping. After completing 11.5 km I returned home to pick up my daughter so I could bring her along for the rest of my run and let my wife go back to sleep.
Sometimes weekends are so busy that it is difficult to fit in all of the mileage at once. As a result, I have on occasion had to divide the 32 km run into two shorter separate runs. I am not sure how effective this strategy is overall but it did not seem to affect my training for my last two marathons.