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I'm such a slacker when it comes to following someone else's plan for running. If I can get in long runs of 20-22 miles w/o walking a few times, will that be close enough to race distance to be able to complete the whole thing w/o having to take a walk break?

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yeah, if you can run 22 why not 4 more on race day. Just don't go out to fast.
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i would do at least that as a long run a few times and maybe a longer run such as 7-10 during the week with some lighter runs in between
i rarely had a week over 40 miles when i was into all of my marathon training. it just takes too much of a toll on the body
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I think a 20 miler is the longest you should have to go before a marathon, although I generally like to do a couple 22s.

As far as the amount of mileage per week, your long run shouldn't be more than half (or so) your total weekly mileage. I think when I was running lower mileage, I maxed out at about 35 mpw, including the 20... but that was only on those weeks where I had a really long run like that.

I think it depends on how comfortable you are with the long runs too. For me running any more during the week and I was getting close to injury. For others a single shock once a week might do more harm than adding those few miles.

So do what you feel is right. If it's NOT right, your body will holler at ya! :)
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I read somewhere that you don't need to do more than 18 miles for a long run to prep for a marathon. My longest run before my first one was 21.1 miles.

I think that the 18 is ok if it is not your first marathon, or if it is your first marathon, you do more 18 milers as long runs than you would normally do long runs following another program.

For example, say you would do a long run every other weekend going up to 24 miles for a total of 7 long runs, then I would think it is ok to do 10 r 12 long runs and not exceed 18 miles on any of them.

Although I am not the best person about following training plans either.
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Everyone differs.....I think 22 is plenty. I've been sticking to 20, but I do them pretty close to race pace. 20-40 secs slower than race. Actually my last 20 miler was the same pace as my last marathon. :) hmm.... and I'm not doing a marathon because???

I'll go 23-24 if I'm doing them at 1 min slower than what I want to do in a race, I call these my social long runs....and I think these are good because I'm actually out there as long time-wise as the real-thing. With my 20 milers being so close to race pace....my body doesn't get to know what that extra 40 minutes will be like.
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