Bad Angel Rule #180

Your 20-Miler Won’t Make or Break Your Marathon Training.

20So much emphasis is placed on the 20-mile run during marathon training. It almost has a mythical quality to it. The training groups in big and small cities alike make a grand production out of it, treating it almost like a race. And simply saying the words “20 miles” strikes fear in the hearts of many a runner.

But I’ve got a secret for you: it’s not that important.

Yes, you absolutely should do it. It’s good to mentally have that mileage under your belt, especially if this is your first marathon. It’s a milestone that must be crossed.

But if you have a bad 20-miler, it’s an indicator of, well, not a whole lot. You likely ran big mileage the week before — and, you know, the 15 weeks before that — and you’re not tapering yet, so your body is already fatigued. Which means, well, chances are pretty good that you’re not going to have a great 20-mile run. And that’s OK.

It’s only one run, and one run isn’t going to make or break you on race day.

The 20-miler is mental, but don’t let it psych you out. When you finish, try to erase the thoughts of, “If I can barely do 20, how in the hell am I going to do 26.2?” You will do it. Trust in your training, and take your taper weeks seriously. Don’t try to cram in another super-long run to regain that invincible feeling you may have felt after a particularly great 16- or 18-miler.

If you have a good 20, that’s great! Keep those positive vibes going. If you don’t, shake it off and remember all the good runs you have had during your marathon training.

And after it’s over, welcome to taper town, Angels. — Mags


2 thoughts on “Bad Angel Rule #180

  1. I’ve run 9 marathons. Never made it to the 20 mile mark once during training. I either ran out of time to train or I was too broken down to attempt a run of that distance to care. I still finished 9 times. I figured the cooler weather was always good for a mile in my pocket and the crowds were good for at least two miles. That made three miles I didn’t have to worry about. And no matter how much or how little you train for 26.2 I think you never really know how you are going to do standing at the starting line. It’s a case of ” Let’s see what I’m made of today.” That’s the best part of running a marathon. The uncertainty, peering over the cliff. I don’t discount the 20 mile runs, I just never got to them.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have a 22 miler this Sunday! Ran 21 miles twice all ready during my program so I’m hoping I’ll be okay.

    Liked by 1 person

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