"Now if you are going to win any battle you have to do one thing. You have to make the mind run the body. Never let the body tell the mind what to do. The body will always give up. It is always tired in the morning, noon, and night. But the body is never tired if the mind is not tired.”

- George S. Patton, U.S. Army General, 1912 Olympian

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Perhaps it's different for others, but for me there is nothing enjoyable or pleasant about a 20 mile training run. It's no fun in the beginning, knowing you're in for a long haul. Its no fun with when you get to mile 10 and realize you're only halfway done. And there certainly is no joy at the end, when everything hurts. That's not to confuse joy with satisfaction. For while there is no fun in a 20 miler, there is an immense amount of satisfaction, knowing that you have persevered through a necessary evil on your way to running a marathon. I won't rehash all of the reasons why a 20 mile training run is more difficult than a marathon, you can read them HERE, but it is in my mind.

That said, as of this morning I'm done with them for a while. I looked back yesterday and calculated that today's run was my 12th training run of 20 miles or more (plus the four marathons) and they don't get any easier. I've put in three 20 milers in the last five weeks, including two in back to back weeks, to get ready for my three marathons in 30 days. And while they are a necessary evil, there's a pattern that has emerged that I will take with me into race day. It is this: I have consistently been in the 2:55-2:58 range on all three of these recent runs. Which means to me that if I can run the first 20 miles of the marathon at 9 minutes/mile or better, that I can run/walk the last 6.2 at 10 minutes/mile or better and meet my goal of 4 hours.

That's comforting to me because I feel like it gives me a cushion in the final 6.2 miles. I feel confident that even if I walk the first 1/10 of the mile that I should still be able to finish the mile in under 10 minutes. I'll have the next three weeks to think about this strategy in greater detail, but for now the work is done. A couple of intense but shorter mileage weeks ahead and then I'm on the doorstep of Marathon #5.

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