May 09

A Marathon as a Training Run?

If you’ve ever trained for a marathon before, it’s highly likely that you had some races during your training cycle that you considered to be “training” races. Completing a race is a really nice way to get a long-run done: You’ve got crowds of people encouraging you, a medal as a reward when you get done, etc.

I find it to be extremely difficult to complete my long-runs when they get above 10 miles. It would work wonderfully if I had friends to do all my long runs with, but I don’t have any running friends in Tacoma. (Sad, sad, I know). For this reason, races become somewhat important training tools to help me finish those long runs. As I’ve planned out my training schedule, I’ve tried to find races that coincide with my 20-miler weekends. One weekend in particular has me questioning something:

Should I sign up for a marathon to use as a training run?

In some ways, that sounds absolutely crazy, right? The whole reason that most training plans have a maximum distance of 20 miles is because the belief is that the way that our bodies start breaking down after 20 miles means that it’s actually counter-productive to run farther than 20 miles during a training run. Beyond that, 26.2 miles is just plan HARD, so maybe it’s best to just stick with 20 miles.

However, trying to fit races with my 20-mile runs is tough in that 20-mile races rarely exist. Mostly I’ll have to run half marathons and either fit 7 miles in beforehand, or 7 miles in afterwards. And that is why maybe just going for 26.2 makes sense. See….I’m not as tough as many of my friends. I know that waking up to run 7 miles before a race would be VERY hard for me. I also know that finishing a race and then running 7 miles afterwards will be incredibly difficult. Because of this, I do wonder if going for 26.2 might make sense. I’d truly use it as a training run…running 20 miles, and then walking, crawling, piggy-backing the last 6.2.

I really am clueless here!

What are your thoughts? Would you ever use a marathon as a training run for another marathon? If your answer is “no,” how have you gotten additional miles in before or after a half marathon?


  1. Robyn

    I’ve only ever used a race (a half-marathon) as a training run once, and I LOVED it. I did do 7 miles beforehand, super slow, but I really liked having an easy, manageable start to the total miles of the day. I used the half to practice my marathon goal pace too, and after running 7 beforehand, I felt like it was a great way to simulate marathon conditions. Generally, a great confidence booster! Do it!

    As for a full marathon, I wouldn’t want to burn out on the distance before the actual race I intend to run :) Just me though.

  2. Abby @ Change of Pace

    I’m sure it would be tough on you it body, but what if you ran it as training instead of a race and kept the pace reigned in?
    I’ve never ran before or after a race, but that’s not a bad idea with a half either…even park three or four miles away so you have to run a little before and after!

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