Berlin Marathon Training Week #10 Day 3 The 20-Miler

Location: Pasadena, CA.

Temperature: Mostly sunny, 86 degrees with 52% humidity (yuck!)

Type of Run: Looooong

Length: 20.08  miles

Type of route: long gradual inclines and declines with two hill climbs and two hill descents

Time: 2 hours, 29 minutes, 8 seconds

Pace per mile: 7:26

Average heart rate: 149

Reason for Run: The long run increases endurance both physical and psychological. It also has benefits of helping the body burn fat for fuel more efficiently. The long run can strengthen the heart and it increases the number and size of mitochondria which help with transporting energy to muscles. It also increases capillary growth into muscle fibers. This, again, helps with transporting energy to muscles. The 20-miler is a traditional staple of marathon training. For me, it helps psychologically as completing the length of the run gives me confidence I’m ready for the big race. It also lets me know I can suffer through the inevitable pain and exhaustion of a run that long. Usually, I’ll do 4 to 5 runs ranging from 20 to 23 miles leading up to a marathon. Most people can do 2 to 3. Unless you’re a pro, you generally don’t want to do training runs longer than 24 miles. Why wouldn’t you want to run the entire length of the marathon or longer during training? It’s too taxing on the body even when you take it easy. Running that long has many benefits but it also strains the body so it’s important you don’t go too far. I chose my first 20-miler this week to see how my endurance is progressing. Plus, I have to space out the 20-milers to some extent so as not to burn out my legs.

How did I feel? Good mostly. I took it easy and, unlike last week, didn’t have any surges of pace increases. Today was about running at a manageable pace and finishing. I was worn out after the run and fatigued but that’s how it always is after a long run. That’s how you know you worked your body. My legs were beat up and achy but, again, normal. They’ll recover. It was warm and quite humid today. When I finished, I was in wet clothes from head to toe and the humidity prevented my sweat from evaporating. This actually heats up the body more. Sweat evaporation has a cooling effect.  If the sweat can’t evaporate then the body heats up more. I consumed more of my hydration drink on the run than I usually do. This was a direct result of the humidity as I felt I was properly hydrated for the most part before the run. To aid in my recovery post-run, I drank a protein shake to help with muscle repair and hydrated more with water and Gatorade (it was on sale this week). Of course, I also tried to stay off my feet after the workout.

Psychologically, long runs can be a challenge. First, they’re time-consuming. It’s tough to know you have to set aside a 3 to 4-hour block of time in a day to complete the run. It’s also a task to start a long run, especially one 20 miles or more, when you know you’re going to be wiped out and fatigued afterward. You know your muscles will ache. How do you get out the door? You have to tell yourself why you’re running a marathon and you have to remember the euphoric feeling of crossing a marathon finish line. Marathons are done because they’re hard, not because they’re easy. You opt in to push yourself, to expand your personal boundaries and fly past limits you thought you could never exceed.

Running With You,



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