Day 64: My Evolving Relationship with 20 Milers

Yesterday I ran my seventh 20 miler :). Each time I run one, it seems I learn more about how to effectively manage the process.

I did my first 20 miler in June of 2020. I planned to run a public 20 miler that year, but obviously all racing plans got delayed because of the Pandemic. After running a solo half marathon in April 2020, I used the positive momentum from this to run the first of three solo 20 milers that year. The first was difficult but it was also triumphant.  I felt like I had broken through the sound barrier or gone the speed of light.  

The second 20 miler of 2020 was a last-minute decision to turn a shorter run into 20. I completed the run, and was rewarded by nearly fainting on our front porch due to lack of proper hydration and fuel 🙁

I was fully prepared for 20-miler #3. In fact, I killed it, running faster than on any long run I’ve ever done. I still find this rather incredible, yet at the time I was running everything fast!

I ran my next 20 miler as part of training for my solo marathon in early 2021. This was my first 20 miler actually training for something! By then, I was weaning myself off my “need for speed,” ie a tendency to run fast all the time!  I still ended up running it pretty fast, though I felt good the whole time, which was not true for my solo marathon three weeks later. 

Fall of 2021, I completed two more 20 milers for CIM training.  For the first, I was very conservative, going much slower than previous 20 milers, yet I was very much in my head about that run, and it was not easy.   Two weeks later–and four weeks before CIM– I ran 20 miles for the Run the Parkway, taking a smart, deliberate approach and only running fast for the final few miles.

Which brings me to yesterday. Yesterday I fully embraced Galloway‘s easy-going approach: taking walk breaks every 5 minutes and going SLOW. The results were wonderful: I felt great during and after the run, and I was completely aligned with my slow-and-steady approach. As I wrote about yesterday, I planned ahead so I could have a successful run and handle the rest of my life. Everything about the run worked.

The table below shows each of my 20 milers. It tells the story of my evolving attitude about speed on long runs. I also link to applicable blog posts where they exist:

Date of RunTimePaceNotes
6/7/203 hours 2 minutes9:05 min/mileRead: “Slogging Through to My First 20-Mile Run”
8/2/202 hours 59 minutes8:57 min/mileRead: “One Must Be Prepared for Long Runs”
11/6/202 hours 48 minutes8:22 min/mileRead: “Third Time’s a Charm”
3/26/213 hours 9 minutes9:15 min/mileRead: Marathon Training Update #5: I am doing this!
10/22/213 hours 34 minutes10:40 min/mileMy first of two 20 milers during CIM 2021 training.
11/7/213 hours 17 minutes9:50 min/mileThe culminating run of CIM 2021 training.
9/3/223 hours 47 minutes11:20 min/mileSlow and steady wins the race!
My 20 Milers To Date

As you can see, despite the first three 20 milers getting progressively faster, the overall trend has been to get slower. In fact, yesterday’s run was 45 minutes to an hour longer than my first three 20 milers! This is part of my shift to focus on endurance over speed, and to continue improving my marathon/life balance. After all, the slower speed translates to lower intensity of training and greater ease of recovery. I appreciate how I’m feeling today, believe me. I also benefit from the added “endurance training” of running for nearly four hours, or about the length of entire marathon, without a significant increase in difficult.  After all, one of the mottos of marathon training is “time on your feet.”

 Yesterday’s run was by no means easy, but it was mellower than previous 20 milers.  This gives me confidence about handling upcoming 23-, 26-, and 29-mile training runs… which are around the corner.

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