This weekend I ran my furthest distance to date: 20 Miles.
The longest in this training cycle will be 22, however, getting to this distance has taken me a lot of training – more of the mind than anything.
I saw a quote right after my run that perfectly sums up the inner workings of a runner’s brain:
“Running is nothing more than a series of arguments between the part of your brain that wants to stop and the part that wants to keep going.”
After running 20 miles, I can honestly say that this quote is one of the most accurate things I’ve read in some time…especially given the certain political mumbo jumbo we are currently surrounded by.
When I’m running, my stream of consciousness doesn’t take one path. It’s like a dog on coffee. I’m thinking about food, water, what I’m going to do later, if I should stop, convincing myself to keep going, counting how many miles I have left…300 times.
There is no pattern and every thought is fair game. As the miles ticked by, my mind told me over and over again:
- “You should stop.”
- “You’ve still got X amount of miles left. You need to save your energy.”
- “No one will know if you don’t finish all 20.”
- “Why are you even doing this?”
However, each of those was met with:
- “Keep going.”
- “You’re energy is fine. Breathe”
- “You will know if you didn’t finish. Be Authentic”
- “Mom and John…and YOU”
As much of a mind game as it might be, it is very gratifying to push yourself and I will say that afterwards, I felt accomplished.
Not in the way I felt when I graduated college or landed my first job, but in the way I felt when I was a kid and I figured something out for the first time. Pure, uninterrupted accomplishment.
I did it because I wanted to do it – not because some said too or because I had to or because it was some milestone in my life. I am choosing this journey. And the journey to 26.2 begins with a single step.
If you are training for a marathon, and I am no expert in this, but if you are having any doubts in yourself, just trust the process. You really have to just KEEP GOING. It’s one foot in front of the other, over and over, until you finish. That simple. Like Johnny Cash says in his song One Piece at a Time, it’s one step at a time. You WILL finish.
My mind told me to stop and a couple times I almost did. To convince myself not to I would do body scans or count my steps with my breath. Inhale 3 steps, exhale 5 steps. Repeat.
- Does your foot hurt? Not really.
- Do your shins hurt? Not at all.
- Do your hips hurt? Yes. Interesting.
- How are your shoulders? Okay.
- Your neck? Could use a massage.
- How about your brain? Get it in check.
Then I would scan the body back down to my feet.
The entire run nothing in my body felt injury prone or like I was hurting. My mind just got bored and wanted to stop. But I didn’t. This was my mini accomplishment this week and mentally, I feel stronger.
Plotting my course
The day before my 20-miler, I plotted out my course on Map My Run (although I use the Nike Run App to track).
I wanted my run to be scenic as well as be familiar. So I ran all over my hometown of Lakewood.
I left my house at 6am and made my way to Edgewater beach.
From there I rounded back down Lake Road to Lakewood Park. After a nice loop in Lakewood Park, I continued down Lake to West Clifton.
Heading south down W. Clifton I went right on Sloane. Sloane leads into the Rocky River Metroparks – one of my favorite running spots.
Before the park, I was at about 11 miles. I then ran into the parkway until about mile 16 and turned around. I planned this so Hogsback (a notoriously steep hill in the valley) would come up around mile 18. I got to that hill and I ran it. All the way to the top.
Akron Marathon is known for its hills so with tired and sore legs, I took on the biggest. While it took my 9’03 pace to a 9’15, I ran all the way up and still finished onto mile 20 right before my house.
I felt great post run and I continued on with my day.
I made sure to actively recover by eating nutritiously – not eating everything in sight just because I ran 20 miles.
My first meal post run was eggs and avocado toast.
From there I ate balanced meals every three hours or so to make sure I was giving my body what it needed…which by about 7 at night was ice cream haha
So I did indulge in some ice cream but still remained balanced overall during the day.
Today I woke up and I had zero pain. I probably could have ran. Trusting the process, I took the day of rest and am really looking forward to my running days this week.
How do you recover after long runs?
Finally, continuing on with my fundraising, I’m asking that you donate $20 for the 20 miles ran this past Saturday. All proceeds will again benefit the Gathering Place. Thank you to all who have donated so far.