When training for a marathon, one must complete at least one 20 mile training run. And let’s be honest here: Twenty miles is daunting. Three hours (or more, or if your lucky, less) of running is a lot of time on your feet and even more time to spend with your thoughts. My previous long run was a pretty unsuccessful one, in that I spent my time being a grump and not giving a shit in general. With that in mind, I set out on Saturday with a mission, and said mission gave me a lot to think about on that treacherous training run.
With that, I give you my notes:
1. Sectors make it easier. Just like my adventure in Gasparilla, I broke up my 20 miles into four sectors: 1) counter-clockwise loop in Central Park, 2) clockwise loop, 3) another counter-clockwise loop, and 4) a victory lap of my final two miles on the bridle path. Yes, that’s a shitload of running in Central Park and yes, it can get redundant. What I found, however, is that this can challenge both your mind and your feet. That first loop felt pretty good? Push it a little further on the next loop. There are hills in your race? Take heed and charge up Harlem Hill.
Which brings me to my next point.
2. It’s okay to go a little faster than planned. I spotted Bojana 14 miles into my run. “We’re probably going a little too fast.” Are we? Maybe… Maybe not. My legs felt like going at the speed they were, and it was by no means marathon pace (except for a couple of miles here and there). And why not push just a little harder without fully exerting yourself? And, how do you know what you can accomplish if you just play the safe card in “getting it done” at a slower pace? Also also, I have found that going much slower leaves me with being incredibly irritated and tired. In summary: get it done at whatever pace you like, just don’t kill your legs in doing so.
3. Running for three hours without headphones isn’t all bad. Blasphemy! In all seriousness, while running is indeed a mental sport, it gives you the ability to engage your surroundings and listen to your breathing and your feet. Still in your head? Channel some aggression. I did that for that first loop and poof, next thing I knew I was moving in the clockwise direction.
When all was said and done, I finished my first 20-miler of the spring season: 20.11 miles in 2:53 (8:37 pace). FINALLY. It’s what I needed to encourage myself for next month’s marathon.
Cause it still scares the shit out of me.
Until the next 20 miles…