Three hours max.

Marathoners should build up to three hours.  Run longer than that, and the physiological gains are outweighed by the stress put on your body.  I believe that anything over thee hours should be saved for race day–if you’ve consistently run at the proper pace for two to three hours, and tapered adequately, you’ll safely complete 26.2 on race day”.  — Ed Eyestone, The Long View, article in Runner’s World issue September 2010.

     This isn’t the first time I’ve read that you shouldn’t go over 3 hours in training, and it’s not the first time that reading it has put me in less inspired mood.  I run comfortably at an 11 minute mile pace.  That’s what I’ve been averaging for my long runs, more if it’s extremely hot out (which it has been). 

     My 17 mile run took three hours and eight minutes.  Going over by eight minutes doesn’t seem like a huge deal, but with an 18 mile run planned for this weekend, I suspect that it could take me anywhere from three hours and twenty minutes to three and a half hours. 

     I don’t feel comfortable leaving my training at a peak of 17 miles, so I plan to continue on and go over the recommended three-hour time cap.  But I do worry about injury.  It would be near devestating to have to bail out of my FIRST marathon due to an over-training injury.

     Thinking about all of this makes me feel like it was a silly idea to sign up for a marathon in the first place.  I do my track workouts, I do my hill workouts, but I’m sitting pretty at that 11 minute mile pace, and I’m honestly OK with that.  It’s just reading that I shouldn’t train for more than 3 hours brings me down and makes me feel like less of a runner. 

     But know what?  I don’t know who Ed Eyestone is, I’ll probably never meet him.  People finish marathons in times over 5 hours all the time.  It can be done.  It may not be pretty, but dammit, it can be done.

With that, I’m headed out the door for some hills!



I also wanted thank you kind folks who gave me your input about pre-run fuel.  It helps heaps to read what you all experience!  🙂


3 thoughts on “Three hours max.

  1. I’m with David on this one, although I haven’t yet ran my first marathon I’m surrounded by many people who have and I have never heard this three hour rule. If anything they tell me go as long as you possibly can, which to me makes sense to me. What program are you doing? What is the longer run on the agenda before the race?

    • Really? I’ve heard this from several sources, well it’s good to know that that some runners say go as long as it takes.
      I’m doing Hal Higdon’s Novice 2 plan, maybe I should have done Novice 1…I couldn’t follow the plan exactly because I registered for a half next weekend, had to make some adjustments to the long runs.

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