Marathon Training Long Run: 16 Miles!

My marathon training training buddy Kathleen and I have a new distance record for running: 16 miles!

marathon training 16 mile run

I feel like this run was the first time where we felt like we were really training for a full marathon vs. a half. And also the point where we were both kind of like… what have we gotten ourselves into? It was kind of insane finishing the run and being like “Oh, good, we’d only have TEN MORE MILES to go if this were the real race. Ahhhh.”

The run was definitely hard – 16 miles is a lonnnggg way, but we both felt decent the whole time and we had a beautiful route, too.


Kathleen’s bathroom is getting renovated right now so she’s been staying with her family up in Columbia, MD. She’s been doing a lot of back and forth to the city for work (but has Thursdays off) so I offered to head up to Columbia early yesterday morning to do the run with her up there. I figured a change of scenery would be nice!



I was up by 6 a.m., out the door by 6:30, and Kathleen and I were running around Columbia by a little before 8. It was a humid morning but also nice and cloudy – we both welcomed the lack of sun beating down on us.


Kathleen mapped us out a pretty route all around Columbia. In addition to some gorgeous wooded trails, we also ran through neighborhoods and around this pretty lake.



For fuel, we did a mixture of things. Before leaving my house for the run, I had my standard Ezekiel toast with almond butter and jam, and since I knew I wouldn’t be running right away, I also had a shot of espresso (we have a little Nespresso espresso machine that’s the best thing ever). No latte because I didn’t think a ton of milk before a run would make my stomach that happy. :)

During the run, we shared some margarita shot bloks (LOVE these – nice and salty) and Cytomax energy drops. I took the shot bloks out of the packaging and put them in a baggie for easy grabbing during the run.

marathon training fuel

For long, sweaty runs, the shot bloks are great – love that there’s added salt and they taste good, too. The only problem with bloks/chews vs. gels is that I find them really hard to eat while I’m actively running (breathing + chewing = hard, apparently), so we stopped anytime we wanted to have some… probably every few miles we each had one or two.

As for water, I want to give some love to my new Nathan HPL 020 Race Vest, which the company sent me to test out earlier this week.


You guys know I’m normally a CamelBak girl – I LOVE my 1.5 L Hydrobak and have used it since 2010 for all my half marathon training – but for marathon training I wanted something that a) held a little more water, and b) had pockets on the front straps so I could stash my camera, gels/chews, phone, etc. during runs for easy access. I originally tried the 2 L CamelBak marathoner vest and while I liked it, it was a little bulky for my short torso and small frame. The straps were a little wide on my shoulders and rubbed against my neck, and I had some chafing on my upper back unless I wore a t-shirt with it. I also thought the pockets on the front of the vest were too big for my purposes.

As for the Nathan vest, I’m a huge fan. No problems with chafing, and the pack is a little daintier in general which worked better for me. I also liked the smaller pockets on the vest – fit my trusty point and shoot camera and gels perfectly. It also holds 2 L of water.


I filled my pack all the way up with water and didn’t need to refill it for the 16 – when we finished I was just finishing the last of the water, though, so for longer runs I’ll probably need to work in a water stop!

For this run, I also brought my favorite CEP compression sleeves back out to play for the first time in a few months. I normally wear them on all long runs but I have been trying to just wear them before/after runs (along with my compression socks, which are a little looser and cushier and great for recovery vs. during the actual run) recently because it’s so hot out and they obviously make me hotter, but 16 miles called for compression.


Kathleen and I chatted for most of the run, which made the miles go faster. So nice to have a buddy!


We definitely both got quiet on the last few miles, though. We were getting tiiiired. And it was a hilly route, too!

We were both VERY happy when we were done. I think I’m starting to get a little taste for what the real marathon will be like – your body is just tired in a different way than for the half marathon distance, and we obviously haven’t even gotten that high in mileage yet. With every mile I feel more and more impressed by marathoners. Ya’ll are a tough bunch. This is hard. :)


Unfortunately, I don’t really have an accurate picture of our splits because both of our watches timed out around mile 9! We stopped to refill Kathleen’s CamelBak and to eat some fuel, and her watch timed out and ended the workout and I think I hit mine accidentally to end the workout. (I was borrowing Matt’s MOTOACTV GPS watch since my new one still hadn’t arrived.) Big fail. We were both SO pissed that we didn’t get to see “16 miles” pop up on our watches! Instead, we ended up doing a 9.2 mile run and a 6.8 mile run. Ha. That was kind of underwhelming. ;)

Our finish time was around 2:36 though, so that would put us at about a 9:42 or so pace. We definitely slowed down the last few miles! My knee was feeling stiff again by the end and surprisingly so was the arch on my left foot – feeling on the verge of a cramp or something. I’ve been rolling it on a tennis ball and that feels good. And continuing to ice my knee and do hip strengthening moves! I think once we get up to more than 16 miles I might need to start incorporating ice baths, too.

Any tips from you seasoned marathoners as we get into higher mileage? Next week is a step down because we’ll be running the Parks half marathon, but the week after we’ll be up to 17 miles. Eek! Excited/nervous!

Have a great weekend, friends! Matt and I are getting in one last beach hurrah for the holiday weekend, so I’ll be back to share our adventures on Tuesday. Until then!


  1. 1

    Yay!! I’m glad you did a big review of the two, I’m in the market for backpack hydration, and love my nathan handheld, I will have to check this out!! I’m super jealous they contacted you! Way to go on 16 miles!

    • 2

      Also..(sorry for so many comments!) did the pack move around on you alot? I’m worried I will be annoying back a back pack flapping on my back.

    • 4

      Katie – the Nathan Intensity is the pack I use on long runs (I’m training for my first half) and I LOVE it. (The Intensity is the female-specific design; Anne’s HPL 020 is the unisex version of the same pack.) I’ve never had a problem with it moving or anything – and if you fill it with ice water, it will keep your back cool for most of the run. :-) My cell phone fits in one pocket (GPS & music), my keys and fuel chews fit in the other pocket, and I even have room for a lightweight jacket in the back. I found it on and used a coupon code to make it even cheaper – still an investment, but one that has totally been worth it for me. Plus the Nathan bladder is much easier to clean than a Camelbak, IMHO! Definitely check it out.

      • 5

        Katy, thank you so much! I love when things are female specific built, (although sometimes its just marketing..) but I will definitely check both of these out, thank you for the purchasing tip!!

      • 7

        This is good to know about the difference between the HPL and Intensity! Now I wish I’d received the Intensity instead! Oh well :)

  2. 8

    Also, some people cut their blocks into halves or fourth to make them easier to eat!

  3. 10

    My advice is to have some kind of reward for yourself – whether it’s a food treat, an extra long nap, a pedicure … just something that you can remind yourself of when you’re getting tired in those last miles of those long training runs. I would say to myself, “You’re tired now, but when you finish you will appreciate that pedicure even more.”

  4. 12

    Congratulations! You two are doing SO great!! Also jealous of the Nathan pack- thinking of saving for one because it looks awesome. Definitely stretch your calves a TON after. It helped like crazy with problems I was having with my arches/tendons in my foot. I was told by a few different marathoners that 18 miles is the halfway point effort-wise. Meaning the last 8.2 miles will take just as much effort (if not more) than the first 18. Truth. Have a mental game plan- mantras written somewhere, something to repeat in your head, even a quick walk break to look forward to!

  5. 13

    beautiful scenery for a long run!

  6. 14

    Nice work on your 16 miles! I love the Stinger Pomegranate Passion Fruit chews. They are really nice cause they are much smaller than the blocks. This way while you are running, chewing, and berating you wont feel like you might choke. I have run quite a few fulls at this point and my advise is to stay off your feet at much as you can the day before those Long runs, and always have something fun to look forward to after your run! It always helps me get through those long miles. Happy Running!

    • 15

      Thank you for the tips! We’ll have to try those stinger chews next – we’ve basically been trying everything out there! :)

  7. 16

    Cannot imagine adding 10 to that run!!!! Ek… but I had fun running and chatting with you. That definitely helps the miles go by. Thanks!

    Great pictures of my lovely Columbia, MD! :)

  8. 18

    I’m assuming you ran around Centennial Lake (I live in the next town over!) – Great route to incorporate the lake in! I need to remember to venture over there for runs more often. Good job on 16 miles!

    • 19

      I’m not sure what lake it was, but it sure was gorgeous! We did two loops around it. :) A little hilly but the views made up for the hills!

  9. 20

    Perfect timing on the article! I’m running my first marathon, and my 16-mile run is this Sunday. I also have a half marathon the following weekend (Sept. 8) so I’ll be interested to see how you feel after that! Are you planning to “race” the half marathon, or use it as a training run?

  10. 22

    Ooh good luck on the Parks Half! I wanted to run that, but I have a half the week after, so that’s probably not a good idea. It looks like a great course, though!

    I did a 16 miler two weeks ago, and I’m probably not going more than 13 until after my half. It’s my first time training for 26.2, and I agree, the thought of having to run 10 more miles after 16 is intimidating!

  11. 23

    Timely post! I’m researching Camelbaks as my 1.5L one is getting small for my half marathon training and pocket space is very limited. I will check out Nathan!

  12. 24

    Way to go! 16 miles is nothing to brush off, it’s awesome!!

  13. 25

    I am so glad you posted about this! I am up at 5:30 am on a Saturday to knock out my first 16 miles and then next week I have to do 15 or 16 on a Friday morning before work (which will mean an even earlier wake-up call). Woof. Since I’m training for my first marathon too it’s been really nice to read all of your training posts as I go through the same steps! Looks like your training is going really well! Congrats on a great 16 miles.

  14. 27
    Amy Hughes says:

    Hi! A way for me get motivated at the end is to break it up into mini “race” distances. Mentally, I have a much easier time thinking “only a 10k or a 5k to go…” I am no pro, but now I feel like 16 miles is no biggie & after you get a couple 20 milers under your belt, you’ll feel that way, too;) Lots of luck in your training!

    • 28

      It’s crazy how quickly perception of a “long” run changes, right?! I remember a few years ago when 6 miles was a long run for me!

  15. 29

    I have the Intensity Nathan Hydration pack, which is the same pack, but the female version. I LOVE it! It got me through training for (and racing in) my first 50k. It holds enough water to get me through my long runs and has so much space to store my nutrition, phone, extra socks, etc.

    I think long runs are easier when you break them up into manageable distances, like a lot of others have mentioned. It’s also nice to have a buddy or buddies join you during the run. I had a friend who used to do a 5 mile loop for her long runs and would have a friend join her for each loop. Other times, I’ve had my sister join me for middle or end sections of my run, when I know I struggle the most.

  16. 30

    Congratulations! 16 miles is some serious distance! When my Garmin times out, even if it goes to the home/ time screen, I can still go to back to that workout and hit start, and it just picks up where it left off! Does that not happen to yours? I’m a total data junkie so not seeing 16 would have bummed me out, too!

    • 31

      My Garmin does that just fine, but I was borrowing Matt’s watch and it wouldn’t work on his! And my friend has the Garmin 10 and it doesn’t work on hers either. Super bummer!

  17. 32
    Roadrunner says:

    Really impressive. Welcome to the world of running into fatigue; you’ll get used to going longer, but the feel after 26.2 will be one of total fatigue! No other way to improve than exactly what you’re doing — going long! Well done!

  18. 33

    awesome job! best recommendation is to mentally break up the miles. every six miles, just try to convince yourself that you’re “out for a short run” and that your legs and mind are fresh. it’s crazy but works!

  19. 35

    Congrats on the PDR! also on the great pace. I would absolutely need a buddy for a run that long!

  20. 36

    What a beautiful run! Well done on the distance too. I’m doing my first half marathon and have been wondering whether I need to consider taking fuel and water with me or not.

  21. 37

    Those hills in Columbia are tough…I’m going to start doing all of my triathlon training out there this winter. The biking is killer!

  22. 39

    Congrats!!! What an accomplishment to complete 16 whole miles!!!!!!

  23. 40

    16 miles! Very impressive ! Nice route too, i like to read your long run reviews and see the mileage grow every week. I really hope one day i can run a marathon too, but not there yet! anyway , good luck to continue the marathon training!

  24. 41

    Congrats on your new distance!! I love the margarita shot bloks and use them at every race. I also put them in a baggie so I’m not trying to get them out of the packaging while running. I love the extra sodium!

  25. 42

    Enjoyed this post. Scenery is awesome and you rock

  26. 43

    Awesome job guys! Wow 16 miles! And the scenery is beautiful! :)

  27. 44

    I think changing the scenery for longer wrongs is so helpful!! The trail you ran on looked pretty!

  28. 45

    I did a long run with Meganerd in Columbia back in 2011 when we were training for marathons at the same time. Gorgeous but definitely a lot of good hills.
    I’ll be at Parks this weekend!! Maybe I’ll see you there.

  29. 47

    A stiff knee for me always indicates a tight IT band. The best way I’ve found to address that is by foam rolling my legs of times a day during training (lacrosse ball rolling also feels really good, too!). Also, lots of hip stretches (always looking for hip-opening focused yoga classes) and strengthening of the muscles in your upper legs and lower back.

  30. 49

    Congrats on 16 miles! I ran 15 miles this weekend and it was a PDR for me too! I definitely can relate with your feeling of “holy, crap, we have to run 10 more miles after this!?” I had the same thought after my run. haha

  31. 50

    I use that backpack for running and I love it! The pockets are so handy. I can fit clothes in the back and run to work too!

  32. 51

    Hey! I just found your blog through #NPCTweetUpTony (because I didn’t know what it stood for and I was trying to figure it out) but I am loving your blog so far!
    I’m actually running my first half marathon this weekend. I have an off-brand camelbak backpack thing that I’ve never used because I’m worried about bouncing and difficulty getting things in and out of it. I was wondering how many different hydration pack/techniques you tried before settling on your pack and what your experience was like. I seem to be getting frustrated with everything I try, so I’m very seriously considering just using the water and gel they’ll have at the stations and only carrying my car key and iphone in my armband.

    • 52

      Hey there – thanks for stopping by! I tried a hydration belt and a handheld water bottle before switching to the Camelbak Hydrobak, which I used for years. Now, for super long runs, I’m using the Nathan HPL #020. Love them both!

  33. 53

    Hi Kathleen! Wow long time!

  34. 54

    Hi guys,

    Inspired by you guys! I could do with your advice. I’m running my first marathon in 5 weeks time and starting to get really nervous. I started training officially for the marathon the last week in July but I’ve been running 4/5 times a week doing 5km since the beginning of May. Since August I set out a plan for myself and last Monday 23rd of September I hit 25km (16miles) which is about 16miles. I feel like I slightly pulled my muscles however and now am not sure what to do. Usually I would do a long run on a Monday, 25km (16miles) last Monday and a shorter run of maybe 15km (10miles) on Wednesday and shorter again on a Friday of about 5-7miles. Do you think I should run more than the 16miles before the big marathon in 5 weeks? So nervous now!!! Thanks a mill.

    • 55

      Hi Sinead! I would love to help but I’m certainly not an expert – I’m sorry! If you’re injured, I would definitely rest, though – don’t want to injure yourself more seriously! That said, I would think you should do more than 16 before doing the full 26.2. I would rest a couple weeks and see how you feel. Good luck!!

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