Group of happy young friends running together. Running club members exercising.

As marathon race season hits its peak, many runners begin to wonder if they’ve trained properly. Questions crop up like: Did I trained enough? Am I recovered? Am I sleeping and eating enough? Another very common training question is: when should I do my last long run?

The long run is, depending on who you’re asking, one of the most difficult but important aspects of marathon training. Hugh Cameron has been coaching the marathon for over 45 years, and has helped athletes like Sylvia Ruegger to great things, like Canadian marathon records. Ruegger was eighth at the 1984 Olympic marathon. 

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When it comes to the long run, Cameron suggests doing your final big effort two weeks out. “If an athlete’s program and training has gone well, then the ideal time for the final long run is two weeks out. If the buildup went well, and you are fit, you should not have any issues with tiredness or dead legs.”

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Cameron continues, “Keep in mind, you should never try to run a marathon in a workout at your goal race pace.” The coach advises a long run of roughly 30 to 35K be run 30 seconds per kilometre slower than your goal pace. “This is key to not overdoing it.”

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Cameron also stresses the importance of the overall taper. “The last few days of the taper are all rest, maybe with a very short shake out run. Each athlete is different. The objective is to ensure that by the time it’s race day, they have fully recovered.” What you want to avoid is training too hard too close to your goal race, and you also don’t want to taper too soon and come up short on race day. It’s all about striking the balance. 

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This is all keeping in mind that training is very individual. Keeping a log of your training can help a runner in situations like this. Monitor what you did last year, and after the race evaluate what went well and what didn’t. This will give you an idea of how to improve your training going forward. 

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