If you are training for the Chicago Marathon, or any fall marathon, chances are good that you ran a 20 mile Long Run over the weekend. Maybe it was your first, or if you are a marathon veteran, perhaps your training schedule called for two ot three 20 milers. Or maybe you’re one of those ego-maniacs who took an 18 mile LR and went for two!
In any event, Sunday was the last 20 mile run for most marathoner training for Chicago. CARA sponsored a point-to-point run that a lot of my running friends participated in.
What’s special about this 20 mile run is that it mimics the marathon experience, complete with the hydration and gels available on the course at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon. It’s also a point-to-point course for runners instead of a traditional out-and-back, which lends to the marathon experience. But even though there is a party at the end of the 20 miler (just like at the end of the marathon) it’s still important to remember that this is an important training run that will help prepare you for the marathon itself.
20 milers can make or break your confidence because they are as close to running the marathon as you get. Here’s something I wrote as a group leader over the years and have sent out to the various groups I’ve trained:
It’s over. Whether it was your first, second or third 20 mile run, it’s now over and done. Make your peace with it and say good-bye to long mileage. You won’t have to run that far again until the marathon.
There’s nothing more to do other than focus on the things you shouldn’t do. Watch what you eat, get enough rest and keep the leg muscles loose with the minimum allowed mileage.
If you haven’t already, this is your last chance to get a new pair of shoes as there are just enough miles left to break them in properly before race day.
If you had a good Twenty, that’s terrific. Keep those positives thought alive and build on it during the taper.
This is where your body rests and heals itself and stores the energy it will need on Marathon Day. You can help by eating right and getting plenty of rest. In fact, you have no choice. This is part of the deal between you and your body. You’ve shown it what you expect and it will deliver, provided you front the necessary nutrients and appropriate pillow time.
If this 20 miler broke your spirit and introduced doubt into your life, let me tell you a little secret: it doesn’t make any difference. How you perform on your 20 miler may be a benchmark for where you are at today, it’s not a prediction of how you will do in 3 weeks. You’ve come too far and worked too hard to give up now. You made it through the training, the early hours, the long mileage, unpredictable weather and you proven that you have the mental toughness to go the distance. Confidence is believing in a positive outcome when the empirical evidence suggests otherwise. And you have every reason in the world to be confident.
Remember your training and you will cross the finish line!
Having a bad 20 mile run is not an indication that your race day is going to be bad. Which also means that having a good 20 mile run doesn’t necessarily mean you are going to have a great race day either.
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