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Breaking the Rules

by Meghann on October 17, 2011

The house is quiet today. Almost too quiet. I miss having Derek at home already.

I’ve been pushing my mind back into work mode today, but it just isn’t happening. It wants to stay permanently planted in vacation time. I’ll catch my mind drifting off into la-la land and will have completely lost focused on where I was just at. Any tips to bring my head back to reality?

I took a mini-break at lunch time to reheat some left overs and an egg.


Last night’s rutabaga hashbrowns (not sure what else to call them, but they were pretty close to in texture and flavor to hashbrowns when I pulled them out of the fridge) were the perfect companion to a scrambled egg with salsa over a bed of spinach. The salsa added a bit of spice while the spinach added some needed nutrients.


Some cheese would have really made this meal popped, but that’s the only thing I would have added to this dish.

Breaking the Rules

Runner’s World has a great article in this month’s issue disputing a few common running ‘rules.’ I found the article interesting because their answers towards reinventing the rules seemed to be all over the place and so off base from what I’m used to hearing.

I think the biggest example would be the rule of capping your longest run before a marathon at 20 miles. Since so many runners ‘bonk’ at mile 20, the article suggests running all 26 three or four weeks before the marathon or – if you’re training for time – to try and get 29 in. The theory is, since you’ve already run the distance+ your body won’t be in shock when you aim for again on race day.

Though, I can kind of see where they’re coming from, I just can’t see myself aiming for 26 or 29 miles before a marathon. I mean, isn’t the point of running the marathon is just to run the 26 miles in the first place? At least that’s my amateur approach.

I’m all for not bonking, but I also feel 20 seems to be a happy norm that everyone goes by.

Have you ever capped out above 20 miles before a marathon? What did you think?

1 Mary @ food and fun on the run October 17, 2011 at 2:37 pm

I like the 22 mile long run. I feel like with only 4 extra miles on race day, I feel more mentally prepared.

When I get to the 20 mile mark, I tend so say “I STILL have 6 miles to go.” So at 22, it turn into “I ONLY have 4 more miles”.

I’m all about the mentality of it 🙂
Mary @ food and fun on the run recently posted..Motivation Monday

2 Callie @ The Wannabe Athlete October 17, 2011 at 2:38 pm

I’m working from home today too. Wish I had known we would both be working from home – we could have procrastinated together! 🙂

3 Lindsey October 17, 2011 at 2:45 pm

When I was training for my marathon I found a plan that suggested to do at least 2 long runs for your goal time, but at a slower pace than your race pace. So 3 and 6 weeks prior I did that, I ran for 4 hours and did between 36-37km (sorry for the Canadian kms!) – I think it was a great idea to get my mind and legs ready for the race and would do it again for training.
Lindsey recently posted..It’s Pumpkin Time!

4 April @ Marathons N Martinis October 17, 2011 at 2:47 pm

Interesting that they suggest running up to 29 miles! I can’t imagine. My training plans usually include a 22 miler as the max. I think this year, based on the pace group I’m training with, we’ll have a 23 miler, which will be more than plenty in my mind to get me ready for the marathon.
I think running too many miles prior to the marathon breaks the body down so much and makes it harder to recover, especially for runners who run a more moderate pace and are out for 4+ hours on a training run. Just my opinion though! 🙂
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5 Alaina October 17, 2011 at 2:49 pm

My husband likes the mentality of running more than the marathon mileage and then being ready to tackle the “easy” 26.2 on race day. He’s definitely in the army. 😛

I don’t like the idea of doing that mileage because it takes a while to recover from a marathon! I’d rather do that at the very end.
Alaina recently posted..Sunday

6 Ida October 17, 2011 at 2:49 pm

29 seems excessive, but I can see doing 22 or 23. I also think it depends on your goals and experience though. For a 1st timer 20 miles is plenty.

7 Courtney October 17, 2011 at 2:51 pm

I haven’t buy I plan to for my own marathon plan. I have trained over for my half and feel 100% more confident now.
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8 October 17, 2011 at 2:57 pm

I usually cap out with a 22 mile run. I agree with Mary @ food and fun on the run – I think it’s the perfect training distance to get you geared up for the marathon. I have heard of people doing 26+ but I don’t think I’ll ever do that! recently posted..The Hills Are Alive

9 Jason October 17, 2011 at 2:59 pm

Just completed my first marathon, and I did 23.1 because I know no matter what I can run a 5k. This plus I did have a time goal even though it was my first.

Seemed to work great for me yesterday, anyway.
Jason recently posted..Jason posted a workout

10 Karen October 17, 2011 at 3:00 pm

Before I did the Goofy this year, I had a weekend where I ran a 13 miler on Saturday followed by a 26 miler on Sunday. It did seem to help although there was that thought immediately afterwards that it somehow took away from the uniqueness of conquering that distance during race weekend. I suppose you really only would feel that way for your first time at that distance though. Once you completed that distance once, you are just trying to improve on your time for future races, the distance itself is no longer some kind of milestone.
Karen recently posted..Shall we continue with the countdown?

11 Annette @ EnjoyYourHealthyLife October 17, 2011 at 3:00 pm

I usually cap out around 21 miles, but I kind of wish in both instances I had trained past 26.2…because I totally died in my first marathon at around mile 21.5. Haha. Still made it nicely (and PRed) but I felt horrible!

I love when new research debunks former thought!
Annette @ EnjoyYourHealthyLife recently posted..Pumpkin Trivia

12 christine @ BookishlyB October 17, 2011 at 3:02 pm

Interesting. I kind of see their point- I only run halves, and I know a lot of plans cap you around 10-11. I make sure to do a 13 or 14 miler two weeks before just for mental comfort.
christine @ BookishlyB recently posted..Dammit to Hell

13 Rae October 17, 2011 at 3:07 pm

I cap out at 22, similar to the “go past 20” theory. I think 29 miles is asking for trouble unless its your job…..too much stress for the gains.
Rae recently posted..And on the 7th day….

14 mindy @ just a one girl revolution. October 17, 2011 at 3:12 pm

I haven’t run a marathon (yet!!!), but 29 as a training run sounds nuts! Like you said, I get where they’re coming from…but dang… When I train for mine, hopefully next year, I plan on maxing out at 20 or 22 during training.
mindy @ just a one girl revolution. recently posted..trapped in the elevator.

15 Faith @ For the Health of It October 17, 2011 at 3:12 pm

I’ve never trained at that high of mileage before, but I think I’d want to reassure myself that I was capable of that distance before actually running the marathon. It’s such an emotional thing that I think I’d be crushed if I couldn’t finish the whole thing, so hitting it once before the actual race would give me the confidence necessary to power through the entire course.
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16 Krissy @ Shiawase Life October 17, 2011 at 3:13 pm

I capped out for this race (my FIRST MARATHON!) at 21 miles last weekend. I think 29 sounds like a LOT LOT unless you are doing other sorts of endurance events as well…
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17 Run.Learn.Repeat October 17, 2011 at 3:15 pm

That’s really interesting. I miss my Runner’s World magazines. I cancelled my subscription thinking I would get the ipad version, but have yet to do that. I usually cap at 20 miles, but I may have done 21-22 a few times. I might actually consider trying the 26-29 approach. The last 6 miles of a marathon are always pure misery for me. I wonder if going the distance a month before would mentally help me the last 6 miles.
Run.Learn.Repeat recently posted..It’s Been a Good (Gluten-Free) Sunday

18 Emily S October 17, 2011 at 3:18 pm

I’ve never trained for a marathon before, but for all my other races (5k all the way to 1/2 marathon) I’ve always trained with a couple long runs of either race distance or more. I never do less because running is, at least for me, so mental.

I’m currently increasing my mileage to get to a point where I can safely train for a marathon with certain time goals in mind and I can honestly say that I will run a couple 26 milers before the marathon. I want to know that I can run the distance successfully and not leave the last couple miles to chance.

19 Joelle (On A Pink Typewriter) October 17, 2011 at 3:22 pm

That rutabaga hash sounds delish, although I’ve never had rutabaga before! Got to try this..
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20 Alice October 17, 2011 at 3:42 pm

I feel like there are lots of types of people that run marathons. And therefore different “rules” for the different types. If you read elite athlete training plans they run several times your mileage and do do at least a 26 mile run in before the race. There’s a HUGE difference between them and you. They build up to do extremely high total mileage and a 26 miler is not even 20% of their weekly mileage.

Most people don’t have the time to safely incorporate that much mileage. I get up to 22-23 mile long runs but that’s with 70 mile weeks. My first marathon, though, I don’t think my body would have responded well to that kind of consistent mileage.

21 Kathleen October 17, 2011 at 3:48 pm

I highly recommend training over 20 miles in preparation for the marathon. My times and finishing rank reflected the over 20 miles theory. Any marathon that I did not run over 20 – I crashed and had mediocre times. I have even done the double run 20 miles in the am and 3-5 in the pm and had good success with that. Since running a marathon is such a mind over body event, mentally I was prepared because I had already done the distance. This plan might not work for everybody but if you are not one to get easily get injured, I would go for the increase in miles at least once before the big day.
Kathleen recently posted..Empire State of Mind Marathon/Half Marathon/Relay

22 Kate October 17, 2011 at 3:53 pm

I always run 22-23 miles 3 weeks prior to a marathon (I usually do a 20 miler 2 weeks prior to that and have a step back week in between). I find it just gives me so much more confidence on race day. When you’re that tired, 3-4 miles seems like a lot less than 6. That being said, I can’t imagine doing 26-29 beforehand!

23 Erin October 17, 2011 at 3:58 pm

I did 22 miles 4 or 5 weeks before my most recent marathon and I think it helped. Even though I’d run a marathon before it really helped to think I’d only have 4.2 miles left instead an entire 10k.
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24 Lara October 17, 2011 at 4:08 pm

I would never do over 22, it’s not necessary and the risk of injury is so high. The reason I would do 22, instead of stopping at 20, is that the amount of time it would take me to run 22 miles in training is about how long it should take me to a marathon. I would only do it once and I run 50+ miles/week so I know I can handle it. If I were a lower mileage runner I would stop at 20. That article in Runner’s World was highly criticized and some of those world-renowned coaches specifically say not to run 26 in their books. Take it with a grain of salt…

25 Sarah October 17, 2011 at 4:09 pm

I trained up until 22 miles before starting to taper. I thought it was the perfect distance. I was well rested and finished the marathon strong! I can’t imagine running the full 26 before the marathon.
Sarah recently posted..Dear 26.2

26 Michelle @ Crazy*Running*Legs October 17, 2011 at 4:17 pm

I did 23 miles yesterday. A few of my friends (and fellow runners) questioned it. They don’t see the point. My pace leader feels like that’s a healthy distance to get a realistic idea of how to conserve your energy and pace yourself during the race. I hope he’s right! I definitely felt good at 23 miles. I think running those 3 extra miles gave me a boost of confidence and will help me mentally more than anything! I know I could have run this race more than a month ago physically! I can only hope I will feel that good in Savannah!

27 sarahsaysrun October 17, 2011 at 4:26 pm

Runner’s World puts out a different opinion on this topic every month it seems! I wasn’t going to go over 20 miles in my marathon training cycle, but decided to put in one 22 miles run so that I can enter into “the wall” territory. Although I don’t think it’s necessary to run the entire length of the marathon once or even twice when training, if this is your first marathon (like me) I think it’s important to have that feeling of “i’m so tired, I can’t go on anymore” Like they said in the issue, you don’t want to be surprised on race day.

28 kathleen @ the daily crumb October 17, 2011 at 4:27 pm

i capped at 20 miles for both marathons i ran and it worked for me! i know some runners are nervous about those last 6 miles, and how you can run 26 when you’ve only trained to 20, but i found that the adrenaline and energy from race day got me through the end!
kathleen @ the daily crumb recently road to health.

29 Gina @ Running to the Kitchen October 17, 2011 at 4:29 pm

I’ve never run a marathon and have no plans on doing so but I’ve always thought (and this may just be the OCD in me) that I wouldn’t feel comfortable running only 20 miles in training and then come race day to expect my body to go over 6 miles more. That’s just too much of a difference to me! I freaked out last year that only training to 12 miles for my first half wasn’t going to be enough. Granted, I was proven wrong on that one but that was only a mile, not 6! So, I’d probably be the crazy person running at least 25 miles for training in a marathon.
Gina @ Running to the Kitchen recently posted..Philadelphia half marathon training: week 5

30 Christina @ Just Running October 17, 2011 at 9:54 pm

Six miles is too much of a difference? Just curious, how long would your longest run be if you personally trained for a 50-miler?
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31 Gina @ Running to the Kitchen October 17, 2011 at 10:01 pm

I never have and never plan on running a 50-miler so I can’t answer that. All I was trying to say was that for my peace of mind, if I were to run a marathon, (which I have not) I would probably makle myself do a longer run than 20 miles. Not judging anyone else’s choices, just speaking to what I’d do.
Gina @ Running to the Kitchen recently posted..Philadelphia half marathon training: week 5

32 Christina @ Just Running October 17, 2011 at 10:37 pm

Wow, re-reading my comment made me realize how bad it sounds. Oops. 🙂 I was just wondering at what distance you personally would stop training.
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33 Gina @ Running to the Kitchen October 18, 2011 at 1:01 am

Gotcha 😉 It’s so hard to even guess at that distance. I think 13 miles is far enough, I can’t even fathom 50! If I didn’t hit somewhere in the 40 mile range though I think I’d be super nervous come race day, but that’s all speculation.
Gina @ Running to the Kitchen recently posted..Philadelphia half marathon training: week 5

34 Army Amy* October 17, 2011 at 4:45 pm

20 is the most I’ve done pre-marathon, but I’d go as high as 22. Any more than that, and you have to give me a medal to get me to run it!*
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35 Sarah @ The Dirt Road Dreamer October 17, 2011 at 4:49 pm

I’ve not run a full marathon, yet… BUT I’ve always been of the mindset that if you’ve run the race length before you’re body won’t be that upset about it. I always try to run at least a mile longer than the actual distance before race day.
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36 Laura October 17, 2011 at 4:51 pm

I think it really depends on the person. I only did 20 before my first marathon, and I thought that was fine. The justification I’ve heard is that if you do too much high mileage your body won’t recover in time for the race. If you’re an advanced marathoner this might not be a big deal, but for newbies doing 2-3 runs over 20 might cause injuries (this is just me babbling, no evidence to back this up).
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37 Mac October 17, 2011 at 5:18 pm

I’ve heard that too, but from what I’ve read they’re talking people looking to place like first, second, third or break some kind of record should run beyond the 26 mile mark. People trying to break their own records could run past the 20 mile mark, but I haven’t read that it’s absolutely necessary. I’d implement more speed training before I went over 20 I think.

38 ~Christy @ wonderofallthings October 17, 2011 at 5:20 pm

Amazing to me always how good leftovers look. I never got to the end of the training stage for my marathon because after my 13 mile run, I got a stress fracture in my foot…and that was the end of my marathon aspirations! But going higher than 26 for training, unless you are a professional marathoner and going for time, makes no sense to me…
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39 Laura October 17, 2011 at 5:44 pm

Heh. The difference between runner’s (or American?) language and elsewhere. I read “Since so many runners ‘bonk’ at mile 20”, and was like *blink* “Ah, do they? A mid-race bonk, that’s…inappropriate.” 😀

40 Elizabeth October 17, 2011 at 7:16 pm

I think running 26 is common in some training plans–I know the Galloway method advocates it, for one. I did 22 before my first marathon and was glad to have done more than 20, just for the mental boost. I did 29 before my first 50k (31 miles) and afterwards I thought that was unnecessary, and now that I’ve done so many marathons and ultras I’m much more relaxed about the whole thing! But it was nice to have the confidence of 22 miles before the first marathon.

41 Elizabeth October 17, 2011 at 7:19 pm

Oh and one more thing. I just read the article you linked to, and I *love* the advice about taking a rest day after a long run. Last year I started doing a medium run the day after my long run, and it’s the single best thing I’ve done to improve my distance running. Seriously. It’s tough, but it’s really trained my body to run on fatigued legs, which is exactly the situation it is faced with in the late stages of a long-distance race. Now I build the principle of long run-medium run-rest day into all of my training plans.

42 Claire October 17, 2011 at 8:01 pm

Ooh , I’ve never thought to do this before, but it sounds good. Will have to build it in to my plan for the Great Ocean Road marathon in May ’12.

43 Mike Ontiches October 17, 2011 at 7:43 pm

This is the same Runners World that published an article a couple years ago advocating just what you said — stopping at 20 miles in training.,7120,s6-238-267–13071-0,00.html

Now they have changed there minds completely? Huh?? I guess anything that sells magazines! I call Bull.

I would suggest getting training tips from one of the books like Daniel’s or Pfiztinger etc.

44 Ashley @ This Is The Place October 17, 2011 at 7:49 pm

“I mean, isn’t the point of running the marathon is just to run the 26 miles in the first place? ”

And that is why you think 20 is good enough.
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45 Claire October 17, 2011 at 7:55 pm

I think the metric thing makes me run further than 2o miles in marathon training (I’m from Australia and we work in kms). While running 20 out of 26 sounds OK, running 32 out of 42.2 definitely doesn’t to me, even though they are the same thing.

For my first marathon my longest training run was about 37 k (just over 23 miles) with 7 runs over 30k (18.75 miles), for my second it was 34k (21.25 miles), which I did twice, as well as two other 30k runs. For the record i ran my first marathon 17 mins faster than my second (3h51m vs 4h8m) – I think the longer long runs were the key.

I think the important thing is to do at least 5 runs over 30k (18.75 miles) with two of those being 35k+ (21.8 miles).

The other theory is that you can get away with shorter long runs if you do them tired (ie don’t have an easy day the day before your long run) that way you are supposedly preparing for the second half of the race. Haven’t tried this myself.

I think the need to run further than marathon distance in training is crazy. I would never go within 5k of the distance in training as it is just too taxing, plus it takes away from completing that special mythical distance on race day.

46 Kristen @ The Concrete Runner October 17, 2011 at 7:57 pm

I’ve never run 13 before a half marathon, so I’m not sure running more than 26 would help that much. I think running 24 before a marathon would probably help, but I know that in my 2 marathons, I’ve tired at at mile 18 – and I did 2 20 milers before Chicago last year.
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47 Paula @ Eat: Watch: Run October 17, 2011 at 8:03 pm

How timely…I just ran 24 miles as my last long run on Saturday. It was planned for 22 but a couple of us felt like we weren’t going to drop dead yet, so we went the extra 2. I don’t think I’d ever do 26 before a marathon though unless someone was giving me a medal at the end.
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48 Krissy October 17, 2011 at 8:42 pm

I haven’t done a marathon… I have NO clue. BUT I will say, that stopping at 20 miles is exactly what kept me from doing a marathon! I trained for a marathon 3 years ago before I was pregnant and had my little boy….I did my 20 mile run 2 weeks before the race, and then freaked out about how I could possibly do 26. I think if I had done a further distance in training, then mentally I could have done it. It was all mental at that point. I am doing my second half marathon next weekend (I did a half about 6 months before the full freak out). And a full is up on my list next. But this time, I will probably train to 24 or so about 3 weeks ahead….so in my head, I know I can do it!
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49 Carissa October 17, 2011 at 9:11 pm

I’m with you on the bonking. I can see doing the distance for a half, but for a recreational runner aiming for a marathon the delight is in amazing that your body can actually do 26.2 miles. The whole way along it’s a wonder what you can push yourself to do!
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50 Heather October 17, 2011 at 9:12 pm

I have heard a lot of different theories on this. Personally I dont know if I would ever run more than 22 miles before a marathon…I think i would be afraid to get injured or burnt out!
Heather recently posted..Gulf Coast Half Marathon Race Recap

51 Meghann October 18, 2011 at 10:34 am

that’s what my fear would be too!

52 Christina @ Just Running October 17, 2011 at 9:46 pm

I like to stop at 20-21 miles in training and then run a few marathons per season.
Christina @ Just Running recently posted..My Cheap Medal Hanger

53 courtney (pancakes and postcards) October 18, 2011 at 1:48 am

I ran 23 before Big Sur (my first marathon). Kind of by accident but I’m so glad I did it.
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54 Megan @ Long Distance Relationship October 18, 2011 at 6:53 am

Like some other people I like to include a 22 miler, it helps with the mental hurdle at the end of the marathon, “4 more” sounds a lot more doable for some reason than “6 more.” During my first marathon, I ran at a slower pace making those last 6 miles almost another hour of running, which at that point felt brutal.
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55 Jamie @ FoodinRealLife October 19, 2011 at 11:38 am

If ever run a marathon, I really think that I would make a 23 mile run my last long run. Mentally it seems like a lot to jump from 20 to 26.

56 RunningOnCoffee October 21, 2011 at 8:23 pm

I haven’t run a marathon, but I have run 15 miles in preparation for a half marathon. For my first half marathon, my longest run was 10 or 11 and I struggled with the last couple miles. Running longer than the race distance in my subsequent half marathon training plans has helped a lot. I agree with another commenter that 20 –>26 seems huge. That’s nearly a quarter of the full distance!
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