A core part of almost every marathon-training program involves some sort of long run. Since the actual race distance is 26.2 miles it makes sense that you should practice running long to prepare for the race. Although there are a variety of different training programs, almost all agree on one thing – the long run is important. It is important physically, but also mentally.

For many people the long run occurs on Sunday. Why? I’m not exactly sure, but I assume it’s because there is more time for most working people on the weekends and long runs definitely take a LOT of time. That, plus people probably want to keep traditions. Sunday long runs are kind of a thing for most runners. Most training programs have the long runs scheduled for Sundays after all.

In Hal Higdon’s book “Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide” he describes the long run as a kind of “dress rehearsal.” It’s the practice test that teachers give out before the actual exam to see how prepared you are. It gives potential marathoners time to practice the important skills that will be necessary during the actual race. For instance, it’s important to know how to take fluids, food, maintain your mental strength, find out what clothes you should wear in the race, get used to being out there for so long, and build confidence.

Types of Long Runs

With a variety of different training programs come a variety of different types of long runs. There is the “steady” paced long run, also known as running “long and slow.” In Hal Higdon’s book he says it should be run “30 to 90 seconds per mile (or more) slower than the pace per mile you expect to run in the marathon.” Other long runs are supposed to be run at marathon goal pace or have part of the run at marathon goal pace. Fast finish long runs involve starting out slower and gradually speeding up to finish the run at marathon goal pace.

My Long Runs

Today marks the longest run that I’ve ever accomplished – 17 miles. Woot! Woot! That’s a looooooong time.


The training program that I’m following involves doing a marathon paced run on Saturdays with the long run on Sunday. Yesterday I did 8 miles at my goal marathon pace followed by the 17 miles easy-paced today. The biggest thing I need to work on is not going too fast. It’s so easy for me to get carried away. All of a sudden I’ll look at my GPS watch and realize I’m running way too fast. I do not want to make that mistake in the marathon, as it could really be detrimental.

I’m hoping to run my marathon somewhere around the vicinity of 3.5 hours. There’s so much room for error, but as my good friend from running club pointed out, “There’s also so much room for things to go right.” I like that! I think I’ll try to look on the brighter side.

Here are a few pictures from my runs the past two days.

Do you like the long run? What type of long run do you prefer? Do you run long on Sundays or another day?




9 thoughts on “THE LONG RUN

  1. My first thought is that you ran 17 miles in 2 and a half hours and it takes me almost 3 hours to run 13. But I am working on not comparing myself to other runners because the tortoise and the hare both finished the race! I’m really excited for your marathon! I wish I was running the half marathon up in Burlington, but it’s just too soon for me. Maybe next year though!

    • To be able to say that you ran a half marathon is a HUGE feat in itself. You’ve done way more than most people! In that way, you should compare yourself to others. 😉 Do you have any races coming up?

  2. Way to go! Most people here do their long run on Saturdays, but this past season I did mine on Sundays, with a medium run on Sat. I liked it. Makes sense as most marathons are on Sundays.

  3. Nice job Laurel! I liked your emphasis that the goal of the long runs is not just for the physical preparation of running the marathon or other long race, but also for training to prepare mentally, and to check on all those details like food, fluids, and clothing, that if not done right, can ruin the race. And nice pictures at the end!

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