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2173 Views 4 Replies Latest reply: Sep 5, 2013 6:42 PM by machalbert
machalbert Rookie 2 posts since
Sep 4, 2013
Currently Being Moderated

Sep 4, 2013 8:18 PM

What's out there, beyond 20+ miles?

I'm in the last 5 weeks of training for my first marathon, and I'm trying to find out what might be out there in that last 10K that I haven't experienced or trained for yet. (Please pardon the long post!)


Here's who I am as a runner:

  • 5' 8", 170 lbs and 50 yrs young
  • started running long distance 3 yrs ago
  • natural pace at 9:15 / 9:30 min-miles, and conversation is not an issue
  • ran 3 half-marathons, with 1:59:47 my PB/PR
  • been working up to a full marathon but a minor cross-training injury got in the way last year
  • using Hal Higdon's Novice 2 program; finished a 19-miler last week without any issues to mention
  • no running chronic issues that need adjustments/accommodations (feet, shins, knees, back, etc.)
  • use amphipod for chews and iPhone (running apps, music, emergency or check-in calls)
  • no plans to haul my own fluids; I run routes with 3-mile to 4.5 mile loops and station a cooler with drinks for the laps


What I've learned over the last few years:

  • When I run longer than 10 miles, I need to:
    • take in fluids during the run, not just afterward
      • water sometimes upsets me but if a sports drink is my main replenisher, some water is OK
    • tape up the nips
      • who'd thunk a shirt could do that to a guy? stepping into the shower after my first half-marathon was a BIG surprise
    • wear good pair of shorts gear, to marginalize chaffing
    • apply some Vaseline onto a few spots, to handle friction areas a good pair of shorts can't quite defeat
  • When I run longer than 13-14 miles, I need to:
    • take in some sustenance
      • bars don't seem to agree with me but sports beans and other chews do great
      • 1 pack of chews before the run and another pack every 3-4 miles seems to maintain a fairly good energy level, but I haven't had a lot of test runs to establish a strong pattern yet.
    • allow a short walk period or two (maybe 100 yds or less)
      • feels good to step off a different pace for leg muscles sake
    • stop with the natural pace starts!
      • back off 60-90 secs on the pace, to have something left after 2.5 hrs of running (D'oh!)


So, the question is:

What's out there that I haven't seen yet that would be GREAT to know about those last 6 miles BEFORE I start out of the gate in October?


What have you learned that was different for you when you moved into 20+ miles and/or 3.5+ hrs of gliding over the Roads Less Traveled?


I appreciate any advice you might offer.




  • lenzlaw Community Moderator 10,539 posts since
    Jan 18, 2008
    Currently Being Moderated
    1. Sep 4, 2013 9:22 PM (in response to machalbert)
    What's out there, beyond 20+ miles?

    Basically, somewhere around 20 miles (for most of us mortals) you run out of readily available fuel (glycogen stores) and your body resorts to burning primarily fat, which is a much less efficient process than burning glycogen.  This is colloquially known as "the wall".  At that point you may encounter relatively high levels of both physical and mental fatigue.  Your feet may begin to feel like concrete blocks and your legs like immovable pillars.  That's hyperbole of course, but at that point you may find it apt.  I've never experienced the mental side of it other than just wondering if it's all worth it and should I continue.  (There is something in me that always insists that I started, so I WILL finish.)  But I've read of other issues such as losing concentration and a kind of mind-body disconnect, and even to the extent of minor hallucinations.  Again, maybe hyperbole, since I've never experienced these things.


  • justamaniac Legend 240 posts since
    May 30, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    2. Sep 5, 2013 9:24 AM (in response to lenzlaw)
    What's out there, beyond 20+ miles?

    Len - I love your reply....  another hyperbole that I've heard is that at 20+ miles we enter "the black hole", where anything can happen. But oddly enough, there is some truth to that since this is exactly where the results of all of the endurance training actually kicks in.  I only have one marathon under my belt, but I remember thinking at mile 20 that I "only" had 6 more to go, and anyone can run 6 miles....



  • BOSNPM We're Not Worthy 2,482 posts since
    Nov 20, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    3. Sep 5, 2013 9:27 AM (in response to lenzlaw)
    What's out there, beyond 20+ miles?

    I find that if I don't out run my fitness it's just running a 10K on very tired legs!  If I have paced badly (I have done this) it's not a pretty site!  So pace wise go slow for the 1st part of the race and take your fuel, and it will be hard but very very doable!  Best advise pace wise and stay positive! 

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