As you prepare for the Comrades Marathon, one of the most crucial aspects of your training is timing your last long run correctly. 

This run serves as a critical component of your training, ensuring you are both physically prepared and mentally confident for the race. 

However, it’s essential to balance this with adequate recovery time to avoid fatigue and injuries. This guide will help you determine the optimal timing and distance for your final long training run before the Comrades Marathon.

Ideal Timing for the Last Long Run

In an ideal training scenario where the Comrades Marathon is your primary focus, the timing of your last long run can vary depending on your experience level and the training you’ve completed up to that point.

For Novices:

  • Timing: The ideal time for novices to complete their last long run is about six weeks before race day.
  • Distance: A 50-55 kilometer run is recommended. This allows sufficient time for recovery and fine-tuning fitness levels before the marathon.

For Experienced Runners:

  • Timing: Experienced runners should aim to do their last long run five weeks before the marathon.
  • Distance: Similar to novices, a 50-55 kilometer run is sufficient. Experienced runners might have more flexibility and can adjust based on their specific training needs and goals.

For Elite Athletes:

  • Timing: Some elite runners may prefer their final long run three to four weeks before the marathon.
  • Distance: These runs typically range between 50-55 kilometers. Elite athletes might tailor their training more precisely to their needs and recovery rates.

Adjusting for Pre-Race Ultra Marathons

If you’ve participated in other significant races such as the Two Oceans Marathon or Loskop Ultra Marathon, adjustments to the timing and distance of your last long run are necessary.

Post-Two Oceans Marathon:

  • Recovery Period: After running the Two Oceans Marathon (which is about seven weeks before Comrades), it is crucial to allow a recovery period of at least three weeks before your next long run.
  • Next Long Run: This places your next long run at around the 11th or 12th of May, which is four weeks before Comrades. However, this distance should be shorter, around 40-45 kilometers, to ensure adequate recovery.

Post-Loskop Ultra Marathon:

  • Similar Recovery Strategy: Follow a similar recovery strategy as after the Two Oceans Marathon. Ensure you have a three-week gap before attempting another long run.
  • Next Long Run Distance: Again, aim for a distance of 40-45 kilometers for this final long run.

Balancing Physical and Psychological Preparation

The psychological aspect of training for the Comrades Marathon cannot be overlooked. Knowing you have completed a significant long run can boost your confidence. However, it’s crucial not to overdo it, as excessive mileage close to race day can be detrimental.

Key Considerations:

  • Mental Boost vs. Physical Detriment: While running a long distance close to race day might seem beneficial for mental readiness, it can lead to overtraining and fatigue. It’s better to err on the side of caution.
  • Optimal Long Run Distance: Sticking to 40-45 kilometers for your last long run four weeks before the marathon provides a good balance, especially if you have already participated in other ultra marathons.

Practical Tips for the Final Long Run

  1. Simulate Race Conditions: Treat your last long run as a dress rehearsal for race day. Wear the gear you plan to use, and practice your nutrition and hydration strategy.
  2. Listen to Your Body: Pay attention to any signs of overtraining or fatigue. It’s better to cut a run short than to risk injury.
  3. Recovery Focus: Prioritize recovery after your final long run. Incorporate rest days, light cross-training, and activities like yoga or stretching to aid muscle recovery.

Timing your last long training run for the Comrades Marathon requires careful planning and consideration of your overall training schedule and recent races. 

By following these guidelines, you can ensure you are physically prepared and mentally confident, while also allowing adequate recovery time. 

Remember, the goal is to arrive at the start line feeling strong, fresh, and ready to tackle the marathon with confidence.


With a passion for high performance sport – Lindsey Parry is one of South Africa’s most widely recognised coaches. Having led a team to the London, Rio and Tokyo Olympic Games as well as the Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh, the Gold Coast & Birmingham, and coached both triathletes and runners onto podiums of some of the world’s most illustrious races, Lindsey has a unique ability to understand what it takes to succeed at any level and thrives on coaching, motivating and inspiring others to do the same – whether it’s on the track, on stage or behind a mic.

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