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Want a recipe for marathon success? Be sure to include a long run once a week for 10-12 weeks. The length of that long run varies, but it's recommended that you two or three training runs of at least 20 miles during the few months before the marathon.
The key is to stagger the weeks for the longest runs. Running 20 miles on two consecutive Saturdays is feasible, but it is not necessary and it is not the best way to train because your body doesn't have much time to recover.
Assuming that you are running at least 20 miles a week for 5-8 miles at a time, start by running 8-10 miles one weekend. The next weekend, run 10-12 miles, and then next weekend, try for 12-15 miles, but the weekend after that, drop back to 10 miles. Then run 15 miles again the next week, and then try 15-18 miles, and then 20 miles.
If you are a more experienced runner who runs 30-40 miles a week, and you are used to running 10 miles at a time, start your marathon training long runs with 13 miles, then try 16-17 miles the next week, then drop back to 13 miles the next week, then do 17 miles again the next week, then 20 miles the week after that. The week after a 20-mile run, make your “long run” 10-13 miles, or less if you are new to long distances and you still feel tired. Repeat this pattern at least one more time before the marathon, working up to a second 20-mile run and then backing down.
Of course you don't have to do your long runs on the weekends, but that is usually the time when people have a few hours to spend. But if you have Wednesday mornings free, and that's a better time for you than Saturday morning, adjust your training schedule accordingly.