Sunday – 4:00AM
AKA – Zero dark o’clock and time to get up for a marathon training run
What if I just sleep a few more minutes?
And an hour later…oh man I don’t have time for all 18 miles.
It happens to the best of us at some point in training, we just can’t figure out how to squeeze an extra hour out of our day or maybe for you that’s every single long run.
Which often leads to the question: can I split my long run in two or is it less effective?
What is a split long run?
Instead of doing all 20 miles on your weekly long run in one shot, you might split it in to 12 in the morning followed by 8 that evening…or any other variation where your math correctly adds back up to 20/2.Busy? Tired? Life? Find out how to split your long run for maximum benefits #runchat #marathontraining Click To Tweet
Is the benefit the same as a single long run?
No. Well fine, then why not?
Oh let me count the ways that long runs force you to learn about your brain and your body…
- Extended time running forces you to learn the mental tricks you need to keep going when you’re ready to stop
- Extended time running helps you learn how to pace for a longer distance
- Longer runs teach you what kind of fuel your body can handle and what it needs to avoid hitting the wall
- Long runs are where your muscles breakdown, repair and adapt to the SPECIFIC stress of longer distances
Does it still have value?
Yes! There are actually a number of reasons you might employ this a few times during a training cycle. One of the main reasons is for someone who finds themselves chronically injured or returning to higher mileage, it can help early in the training cycle to split up that run.
A good coach will know your strengths and weaknesses, so if you often run too hard on long runs or get injured, they may opt to split your long run occasionally throughout training to provide some different benefits.
- Entirely over scheduled week
- Runner returning from overuse injury
- Runner who often gets injured during marathon training
- Managing extreme outdoor temps if you can’t stomach the treadmill
- Using the split to get in more miles at goal race pace
- Option to cover more miles in the day than the single long run
Ironman finisher, speedy marathon runner and full time mom Stephanie, uses them on occasion:
I am a busy Mom and sometimes I simply can’t find the time to get in my longer runs. I would rather split it into two runs than not do it at all. If I can bust out some in the morning and then a few more miles during my kids soccer practice or after they go to bed, I feel like I have put in the work.
In fact, elite running coach Andrew Kastor will also employ the split run with his athletes:
How to Maximize the Split Long Run?
If you are going to split your long run, then make the most of it!
- Ideally your first run will be at least a few miles longer than your second run.
- If the second run is half as long, try running it at a faster pace than the morning run.
- Remember time between the runs isn’t meant for hiking, biking and other crazy activities.
- Use the second run to really focus on good form while running on tired legs.
- Use both runs to test out pre-run foods that sit well on your stomach and give you enough energy.
- Remember to hydrate consistently all day so you aren’t at a deficient going in to the second run.
The short and sweet of this my friends is that while it sounds divine to split it up, sleep in, not endure the brain games that start happening around mile 17 you really need to do it. You’re a runner and a marathoner and thus…you’re willing to do the hard things.
Now go on and read more about how to prepare mentally for those miles!
Now the next step is finding ways to enjoy the long run! Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Top Podcasts for Running >>
Long Run Mind Games >>
Surviving Long Runs on the Treadmill >>
What’s your longest long run?
Have you ever tried splitting it?
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Wendy@Taking the Long Way Home
Mentally, I need that long run. I need to know I can go that distance all in one fell swoop.
The longest long run I’ve ever done was about 21 miles (besides a marathon), but I’ve never tried splitting them up. However that does make a lot of sense especially if you don’t have a large chunk of time to devote to one.
Aimee Run Eat Drink Podcast @runeatdrinkpod
Interesting take on the split. I know I have to do the long run all at once to feel the effects on race day. But good points about benefits if you have to do it! Thanks!
My longest training run has been the benchmark 20 miles. I have split up some long runs, though, to crank out the miles in a way that would work with my schedule. Although I know it’s not ideal, it does give your brain a break from all of the “thinking & dreading” of the longer runs LOL
My longest training run is 22 miles. While I sometimes will pause and regroup for about 15 minutes in the middle of my long run, I’ve never totally split in up into two parts of the day. I fear that second run might not get done.
I’m totally that way, I need to just get ‘er done!
Deborah @ Confessions of a mother runner
I have never done a full marathon before but we did do a couple double runs to train for Ragnar in the past.
My longest run while training for the LA Marathon was 26 miles (run/walk/run, Jeff Galloway-style). The only way I split it up was to do some of it on my treadmill and some on the streets.