3 Hour Long Run Max, Marathon

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    (Background info: 1st marathon, 80/20 Level 0 training plan.)

    I’ve been seeing a lot of advice to cap long runs at 3hours. Stating runs that last over 3 hours start to have diminishing returns, the risk of injury increases, and it takes longer to recover from such long runs it affects your subsequent training.
    Do you agree with this advice? If so, what do you suggest for a super slow runner? In this heat my long runs are starting to exceed 3 hours while staying in zone 2. (My Z2 pace is a 14-15min mile in this heat…that’s a looooong marathon.)
    With long runs on Sunday – do I plan ahead, run the ‘left over’ mileage (anything over 3 hours) the day before on top of my scheduled run? Also, do I need to run 18-20 miles at one time to be successful in this marathon?

    Thanks again!


    Hi bellabowie,

    I’ll leave the advice to the coaches and pros, but FYI – I am also training for my first marathon. I ran 3 hours on Saturday (my long run day) and took off from running on Sunday and Monday. Sunday I did do 35 minutes of biking, but on Monday I decided to listen to my body and take some rest.

    Good luck to you!

    David Warden


    The answer is: what is the maximum amount of training volume you can perform without compromising recovery for the next sessions. Really, that’s the core of 80/20 training and what elite athletes do. Go hard on the hard days, but not so hard you can’t go hard again quickly.

    We write our plans for a “typical” Level 0, Level 1, etc. athlete and put caps on those long runs based on assumptions. Athlete A can run 3-4 hours and recover in 5 days. Athlete B can run 2.5 hours and needs 10 days to recover. WE have to plant a flag for plans for the masses, and that’s the long run you see in your plan.

    But, if you are confident that you can run loner than 3 hours and not mess up training the next week, you should go longer. Very few athletes can run longer than 3 hours without messing with future training. So my advise is stick with 3 hours as your upper limit.

    Remember, if you can run 3 hours, you can probably run 5 hours.



    Thank you David, that is very helpful. I appreciate your advice and time! I enjoy the 80/20 plan and look forward to seeing how this marathon goes.



    Dan, wanted to say thank you for your support and good luck to you in your 1st marathon!

    All the best!

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