Give me a long kiss goodnightand everything will be alright,Tell me that I won't feel a thing ...." ~ Green Day, Give me Novacaine
The thought of running 20 miles is still somewhat foreign to me. What did you do today Vera? I had a 20-mile training run this morning. Say what? I ran 20 miles . Did you say 20? Yep. Articulating the act of doing it doesn't exactly flow right off the tongue either. A relatively new runner training for her first half marathon asked me yesterday "how does it feel to run 20 miles". A year ago, I would said it was one of the most physically difficult and mentally challenging thing I'd ever tried. Now I know that distance doesn't necessarily correlate with either of those! Given ideal running conditions - lower temps, no wind, low humidity, proper fueling/hydration in the days leading up to and during the run - it feels awesome when you run in a good frame of mind. A little flexibility doesn't hurt either.
Now that I've got several of these longer runs under my belt, I've got a fueling and hydration plan that works well for me. I do start to increase my carb and overall daily caloric intake for about a week before a planned 20+ mile run. I consume about 25 grams of carbs every 60 minutes or so between something edible like Sports Beans or Shot Blocks , and Accelerade . I also carry about 20 oz of water to wash down the edibles, otherwise they sit in my stomach like a big glob of condensed sugar. Not only does this slow digestion of the sugar needed to maintain normal blood glucose levels, it gives me terrible stomach cramps. I have to space out ingestion of edibles with Accelerade swigs because that also has carbs in it. Double G.I. whammy.
Admittedly, I am somewhat nervous the night before these 20+ milers. For me, it's mostly mental. I'm at the point in my training schedule where my weekly mileage is at it's peak. A little over 31 miles last week, culminating with 35 miles this week before the 3-week taper begins. Saturday night thoughts in my head included "My IT band has been saying hello this week. What if I'm doing too much? What if I get 10 miles away from the car and I tank? What if I have a terrible run? What if, what if, what if". It's the significance that I place on hitting 20 miles that puts my brain in a negative frenzy. In that moment, I was actually less concerned about running 26.2 than I was about running 20!
My mom has 2 sayings in hanging in her house that I'm thinking of sneaking out with the next time I'm up there and they fit in perfectly here. 1) Life is all about how you handle Plan B; 2) Now is all you have. As these relate to running, I wouldn't change any part of them. In handling my Plan B for the "now" that was yesterday's long run, deciding to go with what my body wanted to do and letting go of the internal/mental pressure I was succumbing to early on, I finished on a high note, without feeling completely spent. Definitely a first in that department. And even though I swapped being mentally consumed by self-imposed performance pressure for complete relaxation and enjoyment, I still hit my target pace. A grand success indeed!
Five Saturdays to race day.....