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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Thoughts on conquering my 20 mile monster

This coming Sunday, I will doing my last 20 mile training run in preparation for the marathon now only 25 days away.

My last 20 mile run went rather well despite experiencing some severe, but short lived, cramping in my calves after mile 17.

I put together a few thoughts on what went well, what didn't, and what I'm going to do different this time around.

On clothing:
For this Sunday, I'm going to wear exactly what I plan on wearing for the marathon- Nike Dri-Fit top, shorts, and socks. All of the Nike branded clothing has worked well for me. The only issue I have to take care of is making sure I wear these. Believe me folks, chafing in this area is NOT FUN.

On the night before:
Get everything else out of the way early. Relax as much as possible. Pasta two hours before bedtime does the trick. Get everything I need together. Go to bed early. Set 2 alarms for 4 a.m.

On nutrition:
Must eat two hours before the 6:44 a.m. start. Oatmeal, banana, half a bagel, vitamin water or O'juice. Then a Clif Bar with water an hour before (optional). If I'm good with this meal on Sunday, it's what I'll eat come Oct. 12.

On Pacing with the group:
I will be in the 9 minute-per-mile pace group. This means I should finish the marathon in 4 hours. I hope to keep this up for the entire 20 as its the pace I feel most comfortable in.

On nutrition during the run:
Not much change here. Drink Gatorade/water mix every 3 miles. Take a PowerGel with water every 6 miles. There will be food available (probably banana's) after mile 19 in the marathon. I may need it.

On preventing the cramps:
Because my last 20 mile run landed on one of the warmer days of the year, I got nervous about making sure I hydrated myself with water in the days leading up to the run. I think this lowered my electrolyte levels (sodium, etc.) enough leading up to my run that I ran out after 16 miles. I'll have to find the right balance of fluids and electrolytes this time around. This will be tricky!!

Final thoughts:

This long distance running stuff is serious business. The tiniest thing can make or break a long run- a leaky hydration bottle, a pebble in your shoe, a shoelace that's too tight or too loose... I have to prepare for everything, and make the best of what can go wrong.

Whatever lessons I learn this time around are going to be tested at the marathon.

There will be no turning back, and no do-overs.

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