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3658 Views 13 Replies Latest reply: Jul 17, 2009 9:28 PM by navbtcret
PedDoc1 Pro 159 posts since
Apr 25, 2008
Currently Being Moderated

Jul 12, 2009 12:19 PM

All right, time for some honesty here.  Who the heck decided this was a good thing to do!!!!


Sunday run.  Yup, you guessed it, long run day!!  What I REALLY want to know is how you marathoners TRULY felt after your very first twenty miler ever!  Not the fond reminiscences, not the stained glass window tainted view, but what you REALLY were thinking during your first 20 miler.  I'll tell you how I felt.  Today, slept in a little ('till 06:00), grabbed my coffee and peanut butter and jelly sandwich (should've grabbed a bannana, but didn't have one).  Headed out the door after the food had a chance to settle. 70 degrees, not too bad.  No sun, cloud cover the whole morning (in fact, thunder storm shortly after I finished).  This is good.  By the time I was done, 80 degrees with mugginess.  Felt good for the first 8 miles.  Gel pack every four miles with 8 oz water.  Going well.  Come about 16 miles, 4 gel packs and 32+ oz of water later, I'm thinking to myself, this is madness!!!   Why the heck am I doing this?  Who talked me into it?  What am I thinkin'?  I'm the crazy one!!!!  Thanks to Len, and a very careful evaluation of my run two weeks ago, I was able to gut out the whole 20 miles.  Lots of walk/jog in the last two miles, but I finished.  The time wasn't even too bad, considering the temps.



So, anyone out there willing to share their experience with their first 20 miler?  Am I the only one?  Most of you probably had glorious runs for your first.  You probably were thinking, "this isn't so bad.  26.2 should be an absolute breeze!"  Others of you probably found some philosophical answer to life in the meanderings of your thoughts.  All I could think of was, "maybe I'll stick to the half-marathon after all!!!!"



Hope you all have a great day!!!



05/09 Bridge the Gap, Quincy, Ill HM: 1:45:27
  • spicegeek Community Moderator 2,563 posts since
    Jan 14, 2007

    I`ll tell you in a few weeks ! but I was sure glad my 15 miles were over today !!

    NYC Marathon          Nov 1 2009     -   4:03:13 ( 9:17 mm )

    NYC Half Marathon   Aug 16 2009   -   1:55:38 ( 8:49 mm )

    1 mile -  7:07                             10K     - 52:58 ( 8:32 mm)

    4 mile - 31:35 ( 7:53 mm)          8K      - 42:28 ( 8:32 mm)

    15K -     1:22:02 ( 8:49 mm)

    Find the Half Marathon Team on FACEBOOK

  • lenzlaw Community Moderator 10,539 posts since
    Jan 18, 2008


    That was 16 years ago! You don't really think I remember, do you? I checked my log, and it just says "long, hard miles".










  • AsphaltRunner Legend 302 posts since
    Nov 25, 2008

    I took over 5 years off from running.  So when I started running again Aug 2008, it was like I was a beginner again.  Only I was able to ramp up to 70mpw within weeks.  I did my first 20 miler in December after a few weeks of running 70mpw.  Even with that mileage it was hard.  IMO it is harder mentally than physically.  I had no problems going running slow for 20 miles but mentally I kept wanting to quit.  It does get easier but it took quite a few 20 milers before it gets that way.  The way I see it is this.  The more you suffer in training the less you suffer on race day.



  • dg12 Amateur 76 posts since
    Jul 12, 2007

    Completely normal, get courage to repeat every 3 weeks or so and your body will adapt, go thru the wall, it's uglt but your body develops it's fat burning process during this time

  • lenzlaw Community Moderator 10,539 posts since
    Jan 18, 2008


    I have to agree with James and dg12. If you run long on a regular basis (not every week, but regularly), your body adapts and it gets easier.  It is usually more a mental than physical struggle for me too. My anxiety is before the run, thinking about having a bad one. Once I'm into it, I'm OK, and the run is rarely bad. If I'm really having a bad day (once in a long while), I'll cut it short.










  • Hel22Run Amateur 22 posts since
    Jun 5, 2009


    Let's first 20 mile run occurred during my first marathon about 7 years ago.  The farthest I had ever run before was 15 miles.  A friend of mine had run Boston and said that I would be fine for a flat marathon having only run 15 miles.  My thought at mile 20 was that I should have gotten a second opinion haha.  Those last 6-8 miles of the marathon were absolutely brutal!  Like you, I had to turn to the run/walk method.  The only problem was that my goal of going to Dallas was to qualify for Boston.  I had to methodically calculate how long I could walk for and still come in under 3:40 (qualifying time for a female of my age).  Somehow my body came through for me though, and I came in at around 3:33.    I swore to myself that I would never do that again.  I never imagined such sever lower back pain in my life! Seven years later though, I have run 10 total marathons, including 7 consecutive Bostons.  For me, it's all about consistency.  Training for this past years Boston I was the most consistent I have ever been.  In previous years I had skimped on long runs, and didn't pay much attention to speedwork.  But this year I had over a 10 min PR and ran a 3:16 Those 20 milers were crucial to my success, not to mention the speedwork that I had added.  Now I am at the point where I would rather run a 20 miler than run a fast 5k!  But just like the 20 milers, I know that the 5ks are helping me to improve.  I ran my 3rd 5k yesterday and finished in 18:51, bettering my previous races of 19:04 and 18:57.   During those training runs that I despise, I just keep telling myself that I am getting faster by doing this.  You will have good days and bad days, but somehow your mind finds ways to get you through. 



    Good luck with your training!  And in my opinion, it sounds like you did great on your first 20 miler






  • AsphaltRunner Legend 302 posts since
    Nov 25, 2008

    Here is my marathoning experience since my comeback.  I did multiple 20 milers including a 26 miler in training.  I ran 7 marathons so far - yeah I am a Marathon Maniac.  I would list 3 of them as hard/bad experiences.


    My first marathon one was close to the worst.  Even though I ran 26 miles in training I never run/train on hills.  This marathon was supposedly the hilliest/toughest in Texas.  The hills killed me and I had to gallowalk a lot of it.  I ran the first half but had to run/walk the 2nd half.


    My worst marathon so far was when I was trained fairly well and tapered for it - LA marathon.  But I ran it way too fast.  I was running with a friend who was in better condition and we tried to run at a sub 4 hr marathon pace.  I held that pace for 15 miles and just died after that.  I suffered a lot those last 10 miles!  FYI, I ran another marathon just 6 days later.  But I ran at a proper pace and beat my LA a few minutes.  Plus no suffering!  This just goes to show you how important it is to pace yourself properly.


    My other bad experience was due to injuries/lack of conditioning.  My family vacationed in Yosemite for a few days and I twisted my ankle.  I took a week or so off from running.  I knew I wasnt prepared properly for the race so I took it easy.  I had to walk after 20 miles but wasnt suffering


    For me 20 milers or even 26.2 miles is easy to do.  I love marathons.  Now running the marathon distance is a "walk in a park."  BTW my last marathon was done in a park - twelve 2.2 mile loops 



  • Timbonole Amateur 24 posts since
    Apr 10, 2009


    I'll always remember my first 20-miler: it was on my 47th birthday. Got home from work, took a 15-20 minute nap, then a drive through the neighborhood to set up my "aid stations," then off I went.



    I had several runs of the 13-18 mile variety already under my belt; had already pulled the trigger on my first marathon (ie booking a non-refundable airline ticket), and I was feeling truly in the best shape of my life.



    And looking back on it, it was probably the best long run I've had before or since. I was on cruise control til around mile 18 or so, then I began to experience exhaustion unlike anything I'd ever felt before. I know now what I was dealing with: glycogen depletion. I felt it a couple weeks later on my 23-miler, then again in a big way in my marathon a few weeks after that. But the 20-miler was my first real taste of it. I've tried to describe it to non-runners, and I just can't do it. I tell them "it's a different kind of tired," and it is. What's really strange is that, as bad as it feels, I've almost come to look forward to it in some weird kind of way. Struggling home those last couple of miles, when everything in your body is shutting down except the part of your brain that is screaming "Quit!" is quite an experience.



    What I recall afterwards: since it was my birthday, the wife was going to take me out to dinner at our burger-and-wing joint up the rode. Since I had "earned it," I went and ordered my indulgence meal of burger and beer.  Then I stared at it. Last thing I wanted was to eat, and the very last thing I wanted was a beer. Same thing happened after my marathon.






  • bellsway Legend 343 posts since
    Jan 28, 2009

    It's been a long time since my first 20 miler but I agree, it was when I first understood the definition of WEARY.  The word popped into my head then and has appeared  almost every time I do that first 18+ miler each time I've trained for a marathon.  Legs feel dead, food is not the least bit tempting afterward and you just want that run OVER WITH.  The next 20 won't feel as bad.  Good luck with your marathon!

    Plan your run and then run your plan.

  • Bryan Jacobson Rookie 1 posts since
    Dec 14, 2007

    I remember this well, even though it was seven years ago now.


    It was scheduled for the weekend, but I happened to be home from work early, 3-4:00, so I left my apartment and set off to run "The Chain of Lakes Loop" twice in Minneapolis, MN ( This was before I knew about energy gel, so I didn't have any. I remember starting off thinking, "This will be so awesome!" I was actually excited the first 10 miles or so.


    I did run/walk kind of hap-hazzardly, as I didn't have a watch either, and just knew I'd be out a long time. About mile 16 I really started to fade and felt sick. I took a break on a bench for a minute, thought, "this is horrible," I felt beat up, almost depressed, then somehow I slowly rose again and finished the rest of my miles. I think it was 8-9:00 p.m. by the time I finally made it home.


    Before the run, I had planned to make a trip for some beer to celebrate my accomplishment, but I was just to tired and sore afterward to even make it. I think I made some pasta and called it a night right then. Some friends asked me how I felt when I finished, and I said, "It was about the worst I've felt in my entire life!"


    That is, until after the marathon


    Good luck! It doest get much easier from here. 18 marathons later, I'm still running.




  • MasRunning Rookie 5 posts since
    Jul 24, 2008


    Your post made me laugh - especially the "no stained glass version" comment. I guess we tend to romanticize the tough efforts, and I think that's partly because we made it through. In hindsight, it doesn't seem terrible since we're still alive with all of our functioning parts.



    I ran my first marathon in October 2008, and my first twenty mile run was on August 12. In my log, I wrote, "Felt good. no calve soreness this week. hips still hurt." I remembered more issues after running my first 18 miler, which was the week prior. I also remember the hip pain - ouch! They were so tight I'm surprised I had mobility! I came home and iced my hips for about an hour.



    I have to agree with Len that the anticipation of a long run is often much, much worse than the reality. I find that I sometimes have difficulty sleeping the night before as I worry about weather, water, fueling, etc. I also agree that long training runs pose more of a mental challenge than a physical one (providing you have done the proper physical training as you progress).



    I have come to love - and look forward to - the long training runs. So, I guess I've offered the stained glass version after all!



  • navbtcret Pro 91 posts since
    May 4, 2009


    I am only up to a 15 mile run this weekend but soon I'll be doing the 20 mile run soon. I am only training for a half right now but I am kind of following a full marathon schedule becuse I am enjoying the longer runs so far and want to continue raising my distance. I'll let you know in about a month how my first 20 miler went. I hope it as least goes as well as yours did. (Meaning that I survive it, lol).






    Congrats on getting to this milestone.



    Stop, Drop and Run 5K  22:19

    YMCA 10K June 2009  56:42

    Spirit Of Pittsburgh Half  1 November 1:46:15

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