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Running multiple 20's

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Running multiple 20's

Post  ounce on Wed Aug 28, 2013 10:21 pm

So, why would I not want to run 6 or 7 20 mile runs during an 18 mile training cycle.  I would run a 15 mile long run in between the 20's.  I would also be running 3 or 4 days per week.  One day as a sorta long run, another alternating weeks of interval or hill work, and one as an easy run.  I would probably run a 23 or 24 mile run 3 weeks before the marathon.

I have signed up for a Half, a 25K and a 30K as warm ups and if it falls right on the calendar, the race would replace one of the 20's.

How stupid am I to think all the additional long runs would help my endurance on marathon day?  Thanks for your time.
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Re: Running multiple 20's

Post  Julie on Wed Aug 28, 2013 10:23 pm

I'd just worry about injury and fatigue and having enough energy to complete your other runs for the week. I don't really like 20 milers so I don't do any more than I have to, I think 2-3 for a training cycle but I'm sure you'll get varied advice about this.
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Re: Running multiple 20's

Post  Chris M on Wed Aug 28, 2013 10:31 pm

Good question.  I do think there is a great deal of evidence that training runs of more than 2.5 hours have sharply diminishing effects on building up endurance and of course increase the risk of burnout and injury.  Pretty sure that's an underlying principle of the Hanson plan not having long runs over 16 miles.   Faster runners will do longer runs than 16 in 2.5 hours (that's 20 at 7:30 pace) but my understanding is doing a whole bunch of, say, 4+ hour runs (20 at 13:00 is 4:20) is considered reckless as too likely to bring on injury and not providing much if any help beyond the frequent 2.5 hour runs.  Although I wrestle with the question and last year tried to do 2 "practice marathons" in a cycle prepping for a December raced one.   Didn't work for me - got hurt.
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Re: Running multiple 20's

Post  Jerry on Wed Aug 28, 2013 10:37 pm

You do, as long as you can handle and the miles result in fitness improvement. That's actually what I did to achieve BQ and sub 3. 

Another thing is you would need to consistently train before the cycle starts. Programs like Hal's sort of assume people take breaks in between cycles, thus starts with low mile ages.
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Re: Running multiple 20's

Post  T Miller on Thu Aug 29, 2013 6:52 am

I've had cycles where I've run in the double digit number of 20s.  I think it does help with endurance but it detracts from your ability to do speed work.  I think it really boils down to where you're at fitness wise and your specific short and long term goals.  It might be a good idea to do your 7 20s for this training cycle.  Then you might want to mix it up for the next cycle.  If your goal is to run a faster marathon then you could do fewer 20s and more up tempo work.  If your goal is to run an ultra marathon then you may take the next step by running slower and doing back to back long runs.  We're all an experiment of one so you have to listen to your body and respond appropriately to what it's telling you.
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Re: Running multiple 20's

Post  Nick Morris on Thu Aug 29, 2013 7:33 am

Not sure why not...I did 6 last year in a 21 week cycle and have 5 this year in an 18 week cycle.
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Re: Running multiple 20's

Post  Michael Enright on Thu Aug 29, 2013 8:25 am

I think it depends on how well you hold up for long mileage generally.

I've run cycles where I've run 6 or 7 runs of 20 or longer, including as far as 22.5. And I've run cycles where the most I did were a couple of 20s. I didn't do any better on race day in the cycles with the many long runs. Of course, that could be for all sorts of reasons.

My feeling is that the numerous long runs just sort of exhaust my resources without generating sufficient benefit on race day.
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Re: Running multiple 20's

Post  Diego on Thu Aug 29, 2013 9:39 am

I have a completely different take on long runs. Once you can complete 18-20 miles without feeling exhausted, which should happen naturally if your weekly running is consistent, it's time to put speed work into your long runs.

There are several forms of speedwork that you can do: 18-20 x 1 minutes repeats at HMP-MP somewhere in the second half, a 3:1 ratio with the last 4-5 miles at MP, 2x3 miles at MP, 3x3 miles @ MP, etc.

Ounce, given that you are racing >21k on some of those weeks, you can accomplish the same thing. Maybe add a few cool down miles after the races to build a bit more endurance and help you feel better for the weekly workouts ahead.

I do think you need at least one or two easy runs where you are on your feet for about 3 hours (for a 3-5 hour marathoner), but longer than that is counterproductive for the rest of the week's workouts.

Personally, the more often I run 18-20 miles, the easier the marathon is. There is no such thing as a bonk and the muscle soreness usually doesn't arrive until the last 20-30 minutes of the race. Mentally, I am also stronger.
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Re: Running multiple 20's

Post  mul21 on Thu Aug 29, 2013 9:44 am

I'm with most everybody else in that you really need to figure out what works best for you.  If you recover well from the long runs and haven't seen any adverse injury related effects, go for it.  In my case, longer runs tend to beat me up a bit and I've found a greater benefit in doing more sort of long runs during the week (up to 14 miles) along with lots of 16-18 milers on the weekends.  Those 16-18 milers just happen to fall into that 2.5 hour range Chris was referring to, so I really think there's something to that train of thought.
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Re: Running multiple 20's

Post  ounce on Thu Aug 29, 2013 9:49 am

@Julie wrote:I'd just worry about injury and fatigue and having enough energy to complete your other runs for the week. I don't really like 20 milers so I don't do any more than I have to, I think 2-3 for a training cycle but I'm sure you'll get varied advice about this.
The fatigue was the concern, Julie.  Thanks for your thoughts
@Chris M wrote:Good question.  I do think there is a great deal of evidence that training runs of more than 2.5 hours have sharply diminishing effects on building up endurance and of course increase the risk of burnout and injury.  Pretty sure that's an underlying principle of the Hanson plan not having long runs over 16 miles.   Faster runners will do longer runs than 16 in 2.5 hours (that's 20 at 7:30 pace) but my understanding is doing a whole bunch of, say, 4+ hour runs (20 at 13:00 is 4:20) is considered reckless as too likely to bring on injury and not providing much if any help beyond the frequent 2.5 hour runs.  Although I wrestle with the question and last year tried to do 2 "practice marathons" in a cycle prepping for a December raced one.   Didn't work for me - got hurt.
Thank you, Chris, for your insight.  As a perennial back of the packer and a member of the n=1 club, I couldn't have done a marathon by limiting my long runs to 2.5 hours or 4 hours.  I need the extra time on my feet to more accurately replicate what I endure on race day.  I'm more liable to get injured doing speed work, than a long run.  Properly planting my feet is Job 1 on any run.  Hopefully this cycle, I'll be doing 20's in less than 4:20...once it gets cooler.
@Jerry wrote:You do, as long as you can handle and the miles result in fitness improvement. That's actually what I did to achieve BQ and sub 3. 

Another thing is you would need to consistently train before the cycle starts. Programs like Hal's sort of assume people take breaks in between cycles, thus starts with low mile ages.
Good point, Jerry.  While I was doing CrossFit from February until last week, I was running 17-20 mpw on Thursdays and Fridays, unless the WOD was quad intensive, then I just ran 10-14 on Fridays.  I'm 20 pounds lighter with a fat percentage of 11% per a Tanita scale (BMI says 28%) than back in January.
@T Miller wrote:I've had cycles where I've run in the double digit number of 20s.  I think it does help with endurance but it detracts from your ability to do speed work.  I think it really boils down to where you're at fitness wise and your specific short and long term goals.  It might be a good idea to do your 7 20s for this training cycle.  Then you might want to mix it up for the next cycle.  If your goal is to run a faster marathon then you could do fewer 20s and more up tempo work.  If your goal is to run an ultra marathon then you may take the next step by running slower and doing back to back long runs.  We're all an experiment of one so you have to listen to your body and respond appropriately to what it's telling you.
My goal is a much faster marathon, this cycle.  So, thanks for the faster marathon tip.  Actually, once it gets cooler, my scheme is to run the 20's at marathon pace so my body is not surprised.
@Nick Morris wrote:Not sure why not...I did 6 last year in a 21 week cycle and have 5 this year in an 18 week cycle.
Thanks, Nick.  Would you have been able to run a successful-in-your-mind marathon if you only had 10 day taper since the final 20?  I'm a generation older than you and believe I will need the full 3 week taper is why I ask.
@Michael Enright wrote:I think it depends on how well you hold up for long mileage generally.

I've run cycles where I've run 6 or 7 runs of 20 or longer, including as far as 22.5.  And I've run cycles where the most I did were a couple of 20s.  I didn't do any better on race day in the cycles with the many long runs. Of course, that could be for all sorts of reasons.

My feeling is that the numerous long runs just sort of exhaust my resources without generating sufficient benefit on race day.
DING!, yeah, holding up is pretty important to me, Michael.  I feel like I need to do a 24, this cycle, to get my body ready and because I would only have to run another 2 miles to the finish line.  Thanks.
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Re: Running multiple 20's

Post  Nick Morris on Thu Aug 29, 2013 10:12 am

I use a three week taper, but I think I could for sure get by with a two week taper.  In fact, my week 1 of taper mileage is only cut back a lot due to the shorter long run.  Otherwise the other daily runs are only cut back a mile or two.  Week 2 of taper is when the real cut back begins.  And even though the mileage is getting cutback, I keep the intensity of the workout the same.
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Re: Running multiple 20's

Post  Admin on Thu Aug 29, 2013 10:25 am

My take is completely different (imagine that)...
 
I'd rather see you build a higher weekly mileage with more total weekly runs than more long runs > 15 miles.  I do a lot of 8-15 mile runs with a 2nd daily run of 4-7 miles and the fitness that produces is incredible.  You end up running 20+ miles several days a week, but not all in a single run.  I only do a run > 15 miles about every 3-4 weeks.

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Re: Running multiple 20's

Post  Chris M on Thu Aug 29, 2013 11:44 am

I'm closest in my thinking to Matt up above.   The goal is to get the highest number of miles per week you can run without injury, NOT the longest long run you can do.  Having an ENORMOUS percentage of your weekly mileage done in one super duper long run a week is not a good recipe for staying healthy or training for a good marathon time.  Instead, simply do more runs per week with average amount of miles/time you do on each run being shorter.

And your passing comment about super long runs being at marathon pace????   YIKES.  Maybe do the last 1/4 of them at MP or faster but doing all your long runs at MP is not going to end well.
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Re: Running multiple 20's

Post  Nick Morris on Thu Aug 29, 2013 12:12 pm

I also forgot to mention that I run 6 days a week with Friday being my normal off day.
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Re: Running multiple 20's

Post  Admin on Thu Aug 29, 2013 12:22 pm

@ounce wrote:
My goal is a much faster marathon, this cycle.  So, thanks for the faster marathon tip.  Actually, once it gets cooler, my scheme is to run the 20's at marathon pace so my body is not surprised.
I do not think that this is wise.

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Re: Running multiple 20's

Post  Nick Morris on Thu Aug 29, 2013 12:40 pm

@Mr MattM wrote:
@ounce wrote:
My goal is a much faster marathon, this cycle.  So, thanks for the faster marathon tip.  Actually, once it gets cooler, my scheme is to run the 20's at marathon pace so my body is not surprised.
I do not think that this is wise.
I agree...The purpose of the long run is for you to get time on your legs, which will improve your endurance.  It is not meant for speed.
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Re: Running multiple 20's

Post  Michele "1L" Keane on Thu Aug 29, 2013 1:38 pm

@Mr MattM wrote:My take is completely different (imagine that)...
 
I'd rather see you build a higher weekly mileage with more total weekly runs than more long runs > 15 miles.  I do a lot of 8-15 mile runs with a 2nd daily run of 4-7 miles and the fitness that produces is incredible.  You end up running 20+ miles several days a week, but not all in a single run.  I only do a run > 15 miles about every 3-4 weeks.
I like this approach and it is what I have done in the past when I built mileage.  I have run many a marathon with no 20s at all but off 60 mile weeks.
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Re: Running multiple 20's

Post  Diego on Thu Aug 29, 2013 2:31 pm

Ounce,

You said you are only running 3-4 days per week. The lotsa weekly miles idea isn't going to really help unless you plan on running doubles on 2 of the days you run.

I would run the sorta long run 10-14 miles, the long run with speed work thrown in at HMP to MP(it doesn't have to be much), and two other days where you run for at least an hour and include some strides and some 1-3 minute fartleks.

If you are not spending at least the same total minutes of running the 3 other days of the wek as you spend running your long run(the 25% rule), then it's probably unwise to run marathons. So I would think about 7 hours of running each week are necesssary to get where you want and not be injured. 
 
If there was no issue with injury, then you could make one of the runs a tempo run.
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Re: Running multiple 20's

Post  Jerry on Thu Aug 29, 2013 2:36 pm

Michele \"1L" Keane wrote:
@Mr MattM wrote:My take is completely different (imagine that)...
 
I'd rather see you build a higher weekly mileage with more total weekly runs than more long runs > 15 miles.  I do a lot of 8-15 mile runs with a 2nd daily run of 4-7 miles and the fitness that produces is incredible.  You end up running 20+ miles several days a week, but not all in a single run.  I only do a run > 15 miles about every 3-4 weeks.
I like this approach and it is what I have done in the past when I built mileage.  I have run many a marathon with no 20s at all but off 60 mile weeks.
This is what I have been doing since June for two reasons:

1. I know I can handle high milages(60+ for me) with no problem, but I was not in good shape for 20s. I built my long runs from 10 to 16 now.

2. I found I lost too much water. After 16, my body condition deterioted too much that I could not recover in time. So I rarely go beyond. My marathon will be December, I don't worry about the 20s now. My original thoughts stay that you still want to run the weekly long runs as often as you can handle. The exact distance changes from time to time. I am in a good shape now. As soon as it cools down, I will try 20 every weekend.

I do quite 4,5,6 etc, sometimes 2 like this morning just to keep up the overall miles. As Matt said, it works.
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Re: Running multiple 20's

Post  Jerry on Thu Aug 29, 2013 2:44 pm

I don't like the idea of 20 MP.

If I could do that in a traing week, I could guarantee hitting the goal, no fun.
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Re: Running multiple 20's

Post  ounce on Thu Aug 29, 2013 9:05 pm

I have enjoyed all the comments that y'all have posted and I have learned some things, to boot!  Let me lie down on the couch and type what I hope will be short.

A whole lot of things written about marathoning are for the runners who can run a 4 hour marathon or faster, can train 6 days a week, and are younger than 50.  I am none of these.  So I generally can't follow exactly (or even partially) the conventional wisdom on various topics.

I did long runs at 60 seconds slower than MP.
I did mid-week MP runs of up to 9 or 10 miles via Hal's Intermediate plan.
I did 1 long run of 20 miles in a cycle.
None of it achieved the goals I wanted.  Is it purely these three points that caused the failure?  No, but if the plan doesn't work, then another plan needs to be evaluated.

For the past two years (but with better success in 2011), I've been running negative splits on 90% of any run that I ran.  And I was running the long runs pretty much at MP +10 seconds with a negative split.  The long runs were gradually increasing in distance, every other week.

Running at MP +10 gave my body the actual race feel and pounding, especially for my breathing and my tootsies, over many miles.  After the race was over, I thought about increasing the distance for the last long run to 23 or 24, so my body remembers the extra pounding when carbs are gone and the mind continues to tell you to stop.

I had more confidence going into the marathon because I knew I could better maintain marathon pace for a longer time because I trained at it.

I can't increase the days I can run and I generally can't run twice a day.  So, my mileage percentage for long runs is always going to be at or greater than 50%.  I hold up really well on long runs, since losing weight in 2011.  I thank the Lord for blessing me with some durability.

I really, really appreciate all the comments posted on the thread.  I really do.  It's made me think and adjust what I had planned.  I will review the thread over the next weeks in order to fine tune the schedule.  But like Mul said, I have to do figure out what works best for me.  I have to create my own conventional wisdom. 

Thanks for taking the time to type.
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Re: Running multiple 20's

Post  Julie on Thu Aug 29, 2013 9:38 pm

I agree everyone is different and you need to find what works with you. I would say though if you choose to stick with the multiple 20s to be really cautious about injury. I don't know if you are prone to injury or not but my knees very much are and if I over do it they will let me know and the last thing anybody needs is to show up at a marathon injured. Some of my best races I've felt just slightly under trained due to a cold/sinus infection or winter weather because it made me completely injury-free. I can't do doubles, either.
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Re: Running multiple 20's

Post  Penelope on Thu Aug 29, 2013 9:51 pm

I think it makes sense to do more than 2-3 20 milers if you have issues that doing multiple ones could correct....like, if in your previous marathon(s), the wheels fall off in the later miles and you can't keep it together, then it makes sense to do more of the 20 milers--but slowly to build endurance.  Or if you still haven't figured out your hydration / energy consumption and what works for you.  Or if doing more 20's gives you more confidence in your race, because marathoning is not purely physical.  I personally hate the long runs but if I ever do another marathon, would never do it based on only 1 20 mile run.  I need the confidence that I've done a few and I've struggled with endurance in the last 10K.
But, if you're just trying to generally improve your time and not addressing a specific deficit, not sure a bunch of 20s is the answer....maybe more overall miles and some speed work?
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Re: Running multiple 20's

Post  fostever on Thu Aug 29, 2013 10:13 pm

@Jerry wrote:You do, as long as you can handle and the miles result in fitness improvement. That's actually what I did to achieve BQ and sub 3. 

Another thing is you would need to consistently train before the cycle starts. Programs like Hal's sort of assume people take breaks in between cycles, thus starts with low mile ages.
Steve, I mean Jerry, you ran a sub 3? Never knew, hark. You are high mileage and fast enough halfs to go close to sub 2:50. Maybe Hansen philosophy could bring lower marathon time? I guess the question is WWSD? or WWPD (Pre)
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Re: Running multiple 20's

Post  Mark B on Thu Aug 29, 2013 10:40 pm

@Julie wrote:I agree everyone is different and you need to find what works with you. I would say though if you choose to stick with the multiple 20s to be really cautious about injury. I don't know if you are prone to injury or not but my knees very much are and if I over do it they will let me know and the last thing anybody needs is to show up at a marathon injured. Some of my best races I've felt just slightly under trained due to a cold/sinus infection or winter weather because it made me completely injury-free. I can't do doubles, either.
Julie makes a good point. I'd add that my concern is less of you doing a several of 20s in a marathon build-up than in stretching the long run out to 23 or 24 miles. If your goal is to get faster, there is very little upside in it. You will sufficiently stimulated by the 20s -- especially if you use a 3/1 approach -- and still have the time/energy to get in a quality run that you seem to need to get those marathon times down to where you want.
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