No matter what training program a runner uses, the long run has a central role. Going long is absolutely necessary to build the kind of endurance needed to sustain 26.2 miles. At first, I remember it was intimidating. Now, many years and dozens of 20-mile runs later, I look forward to long runs. As Chad once pointed out, there's little glory in them. So far this summer, I've monkeyed around with long runs, never going all that far. Last weekend I did 17 miles, which were kinda awful because of the hot and humid weather. Tomorrow's the NYRR Long-Training Run. I'm doing the full 20, although my Pfitzinger plan calls for 17. I know from past experience that I'll want to get in the entire distance. Most of my long runs are done by myself, but tomorrow I'll have a group of runners to run four loops of the park. This makes the runs a lot easier, just psychologically. Following the advice of some here and stuff Pfitzinger has written, I'm running in the 8:00 pace group. This is a pretty relaxed pace for me, and seemingly just right for my race pace. What I've learned is that my previous training had it backward: I built up the long run too much. In fact, I need to concentrate on real quality workouts during the week with tempo runs. That's where I'll get fast. The endurance part isn't as important, it's just necessary.
Good luck to Laura, Daniel and other SF Marathon runners.
5 miles, 38 minutes