Would I be insane to run a trail race in place of a long run during marathon training? (Updated with race report) (Read 268 times)


    Basically, that's the question in a nutshell.  The road marathon I'm training for isn't until April 20th, and next week is scheduled to be my first 20 miler.  Training is going well, and I'll still have 10 weeks after next weekend.  I'm wanting to run a local-ish trail race, the Psycho Wyco Run, Toto, Run.  I was thinking I'd do the 10 miler and still run my 20 the next day, but I'm thinking about just running the 20 miler instead and calling it my long run.  I'm not planning to "race" no matter what distance I run, and I'm guessing the 20 miler would definitely take me over 4 hours, hopefully under 5.   Would that be nuts, or this far out does it not matter?

      I don't see any reason why running 20 miles on trails would be a problem.  I actually recover better from trail runs/races.  Generally it is the tapering for non-goal races that interferes with your training not the race itself (unless it is 2-3 weeks before the race).  As a general rule, I don't race anything longer than a 1/2 marathon less than 3 weeks before a goal marathon.   For a 20 miler, I would say allow 4 weeks for recovery if you want to play it safe.

        I would.  I assume you run because it's fun at some level, so unless you have ankle problems or something that you're particularly worried about, you should do the trail run if it will fill that need; marathon training is hard enough without making it boring too.

        Do what you want, just how you like. Nobody has to know.


        levitation specialist

          I would and will myself. I have a trail half in March and a full in May. My half will count as my LR on that week, I don't plan on a taper or doing anything special for it. Sortof concerned about injury potential, but then it isn't like a Tuff Mudder event or anything, just a nice crushed rock and singletrack trail run. I have no time goal in mind, just enjoy the scenery and change of pace.

          Mix it up and have a good time. When else do you get a medal and a tshirt for a LR?

          Anonymous Guest


            I'm running a 40 miler up and back down a mountain 10 weeks before my goal marathon. Just because it's the Mount Mitchell Challenge and my maiden name is Mitchell. So no, I don't think you are insane at all.


            Sounds like a fun way to get a long run in - enjoy it!

            Since everyone else is blogging: http://karenrunsfar.blogspot.com/
            Upcoming Races: 2016: BCS Marathon. 2017: Houston Marathon, The Woodlands Marathon, Oklahoma City Marathon and Missoula Marathon (50th one on my 50th birthday). After that, who knows?

              I'm trying to fit in a few races leading up to my May marathon.  I figure it will work if I use them as "slightly faster" tempo runs and don't taper for them.  I registered for a 15k that falls on the same day as a 9 mile tempo so it works out perfectly.  Your trail run is a perfect substitute for a long run.  I wish I was running it with you.  Good luck.



                No, what's the problem? Training plans are plans, not mandates. If a trail race is available and on a convenient day, and you want to do it, go for it.


                  I think you should do the race. You're a strong runner (I know this from the other thread) and you'll have plenty of time to recover.

                  PR's: 5k - 23:33/ 10k - 48:30/ 5 mi. - 39:21/ 13.1 - 1:53/ 26.2 recent - 4:34


                  Upcoming races: Resolution Run HM 1/1/13

                                              Phoenix R&R    HM 1/20/13

                    So your question is whether it's okay to substitute a 20-mile run with a 20-mile run?

                    Runners run.

                      So your question is whether it's okay to substitute a 20-mile run with a 20-mile run?


                      those two workouts are only equivalent in a parallel universe.


                        So your question is whether it's okay to substitute a 20-mile run with a 20-mile run?


                        Well, yes.  Sounds kind of dumb put that way :-P  But it's substituting 20 (ish) miles of hilly, rocky, run-when-I-can, walk-when-I-have-to in place of a straight road 20 miles.

                        Regardless, I pulled the trigger and will run 20 miles of trail this Saturday, most likely in the mud given the current prediction of 55+ degrees that day!

                          I think trail running and races are a great way to train for a road race.


                          What I wouldn't recommend is what I saw happen a few weeks  ago.  We met with a trail running group for our long run, to preview a half marathon trail race we were running the next weekend.  There was a guy who joined us, who was just out to run the trail as his long run that Saturday.


                          The following weekend he was running the Carlsbad Half Marathon.  It was his first time running on trails.  We came across him two miles into the trail, he had badly twisted his ankle, and was making his way back to the cars.  I have no idea if he was able to run his half marathon the next weekend, but I doubt it.

                            Oh boy do I love trails.  I've been strictly a road runner for 4 years and got into my first ultra this March.  It's all trails and I've spent the last month and a half running long runs on the trails every Saturday.  My last three runs were 19, 21, and 25 on the trails and that night and the next day I had no type of soreness.  Trails are great for the body.  I think you should do more running in the trails during your training.  Not necessarily long runs, but mix in some short runs on the trails.  Although I do core work and strength training in the gym, the trails and improved my strength even more.  It will defnitely benefit your road running.

                            12 Monkeys

                              Would I be insane to run a trail race in place of a long run during marathon training?


                              I would do it.

                              But I too am insane.


                                those two workouts are only equivalent in a parallel universe.


                                This ^.  But, if you are already a strong runner with trail experience and long run experience, you should be fine. I just ran my longest trail run to date this weekend (18 miles) and felt a bit like I ran a road marathon afterwards. It sounds like you probably know what you're doing though.

                                My Blog:  trailsandcocktails.com

                                I Run for Oiselle


                                Hyner 50k:  4/18/15

                                Laurel Highlands 70M: 6/13/15