Can You Skip the Long Run When Training for a Marathon

Can You Skip the Long Run When Training for a Marathon?

Running a marathon is no small feat and training for one is hard work. A large part of any marathon training plan is the long run, the distance of which varies from person to person, but for the most part, it’s one of the most important elements of a successful marathon effort. But what if you don’t have the time, or worse, the inclination to do your long run? Can you simply skip it and still be able to race a marathon?

The answer is, unfortunately, no. The long run is an essential part of marathon training. It increases your stamina so you can endure the 26.2 miles of a marathon, as well as increasing your endurance and strengthening your legs. During a long run you also increase the amount of oxygen your body can take in, known as VO2 max, which helps your body remain efficient during a race. It also helps you get used to running for a long period of time, which is basically what a marathon is.

That being said, it’s not all doom and gloom if you don’t have time to do a long run. It may not be ideal, but any meaningful run can help you in your training. If you can’t do a long run, then make the time for at least a few quality runs during your training cycle. Try to hit your target weekly mileage, paying special attention to days when you are running more than normal, such as speedwork days and of course, your long run.

Another option is to shorten your long runs as your training progresses. Consider running 18 miles of your 20-mile long run, or breaking the long run into two shorter runs. For example, if your long run is set at 20 miles, break it up into two 10-mile runs and one 5-mile run, or one 12-mile run and two 4-mile runs. This gives your body two days to recover, while still providing the benefit of a longer run.

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The key is to maintain the spirit of the long run, while finding ways to still fit it into your busy schedule. And keep in mind that a marathon is all about the journey, not just the end result. Enjoy your training as much as you can and keep pushing yourself to reach your goals.


Why Is Long Run Important In Marathon Training

The long run is an essential part of marathon training and any aspiring marathoner should not overlook its importance. It is defined as “a continuous run that is longer in duration than the normal run”. A long run typically lasts approximately 90 minutes and can range up to 3 hours. Elite marathoners may even cover distances of up to 32 km and beyond.

The primary aim of long runs during training is to increase aerobic endurance and muscular strength, as well as to build up the cardiovascular system for the challenge of running a full 42 km marathon. Many runners underestimate the importance of the long run, and this can be detrimental to their marathon performance. With this in mind, here are several reasons why it is crucial to embrace the importance of the long run when training for a marathon.

The long run will help build up the level of glycogen in the muscles. Glycogen is a form of energy that is stored in muscles and used during exercise. When partaking in a long run, the glycogen stores slowly diminish and, over time, the body begins to utilize fat instead. This shift in fuel source over prolonged periods of exercise helps develop the body’s strength and endurance.

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Additionally, running for a long duration will also help prepare the mind for the endurance challenge of a marathon. It instills an increased level of confidence and mental strength and helps runners to realize that, once they reach a certain point, they can continue to push through. What’s more, it offers an opportunity to find a comfortable rhythm and pace in order to maximize performance on race day.

The long run is also beneficial as it enables runners to gradually increase their mileage as training progresses. As the body adapts, it becomes accustomed to running longer distances, making the transition from a half-marathon to a full-length marathon easier. Finally, taking part in a longer distance run helps create a sense of accomplishment and helps build up a runner’s enthusiasm.

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