Physical Fitness Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for physical fitness professionals, athletes, trainers, and those providing health-related needs. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Is it better to run 3 ten mile runs with food breaks or one 24-26 mile run when training for a marathon?

How would this translate to a race time?

share|improve this question
up vote 4 down vote accepted

In my opinion the furthest I would go in training pre marathon is about 22 miles. And I would only do 1 of these. The rest of the long runs I would suggest should be between 18-20 miles.

The reason I say this, is that running the full 26 miles takes a lot out of you, and I think would have a negative affect on the actual marathon rather than a positive.

I think a 22 is okay, as it's in the last few miles that you would hit the wall(if you were going to). You definitely don't want this to happen in training. Doing a 22 will give you the confidence that you can do the distance, which is why I would suggest you do one.

I can't see any reason for doing 3 x's 10 miles. Do you really have the time to do that in one day?

Also, a reason for not doing 3 x 10 is that when you do the very long runs your body has to learn to use fat as fuel. If you do 3 x's 10 you wouldn't get this benefit.

I hope that helps.

Btw I don't understand the last bit of your question - how does this translate to race time?

share|improve this answer
My pace is dropping significantly over a marathon. After finishing a marathon in 4:32 about two weeks later I finished a half in 1:43. I'm really interested in whether or not a long run can be broken up into short sprints with food/carb breaks inbetween in order to improve speed over long distance. The part of translating to race time would be how not fueling up in the middle of running may reduce my pace in a race. I dont have time to do 3x 10 miles really, so I do think I'm getting alittle run crazy :) – Jason May 13 '14 at 23:51
There are 2 reasons your pace would be dropping. Either you haven't done enough long runs in training or you have started too fast. You need to start the marathon at a pace you can maintain. It will seem to slow, but you can always pick it up later – Tracy at 2bactive May 14 '14 at 14:46
Well I've been training longer distance but haven't gotten the same response as I have from running 16-18 miles, and running 23 miles does feel pretty close to a marathon. Even doing 23 miles too often has slowed my growth. Your right about hitting the wall after 23 miles is not too bad since it would be so close to the finish. Thanks – Jason May 25 '14 at 14:30

Each one would have a different effect on fitness, but in theory both would be good options.

One long 24-26 mile run would help ensure you go the distance on race day. Three ten mile runs with breaks would allow you to run at a slightly faster training pace for the overall mileage.

It really depends on what your marathon goals are (i.e. crossing the finish line, setting a PR, etc.)

If you want to drop your time, the main thing is to spend time at marathon pace. One of the best marathon training runs I know of is a 20+ mile run with the first half easy and the second half at marathon goal pace.

share|improve this answer
I guess this is just my opinion(but I do have many years of experience) and have run 13 marathons in respectable times), but I would not recommend running 24-26 miles in training. See my reason in my answer below – Tracy at 2bactive May 13 '14 at 12:50
@Tracyat2bactive, your marathon experience is much more than mine. I do agree that more often than not, except for elites that run 100+ miles a week, a 26 mile training run is a little overkill for a marathon. I just answered the question the question with my opinion based on the limited background and goal information provided. :) – KC-Flip May 15 '14 at 1:04
- no worries, we are all here to learn, that's why I made the comment. – Tracy at 2bactive May 15 '14 at 6:15

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.