TITLE: 20 Miles the Hard Way AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: July 30, 2006 8:26 PM DESC: ----- BODY: Here are two signs that you may face a tough 20-miler: ... and that doesn't even take into account the fact that it's a 20-miler! There isn't much I can do to change the weather conditions, and there's not much I can do to address them when it stays hot and humid through the night. I can run slowly and take plenty of fluids. Choosing a shaded route is good, too. My soreness is under some control, though I depend on my harder workouts to get faster for my race. This week, however, I overdid both of my fast workouts, partly out of ignorance though also partly out of overeagerness. (Stick to the plan!) This morning, I ran slowly, but "on plan" -- ≤ 70 seconds over marathon goal pace, which is within the 60-90 seconds over marathon goal pace recommended by the coach who designed the plan I'm following. The route I ran offered shade for much of the last 8 miles, which certainly helped as the temperature rose into the mid-80s. I also drank a lot of fluid -- at least when compared to my usual practice. I consumed 19 oz. of the sports drink that will be available on the race course this fall. Last year's experience suggests that my body may not absorb the liquid I take on the course all that well, especially this brand. That almost certainly affected my hydration during the marathon last year. This year I hope to train my body to take more liquid, and this kind of liquid in particular. If nothing else, I need to get used to living with the flavor for almost four hours! The first two hours today felt good, much better than the first half of last week's 18-miler. But I began to feel the effects of the weather and fatigue in the last hour. Then I ran a bit faster for my 18th mile (8:15), just to see if I had anything left. I did -- but then not for the last two miles. This is an indulgence I need to give up. (Stick to the plan!) Last year at this time I ran a great 20-miler on a rails-to-trails trail in Muncie, Indiana. That run felt much better than today's, and I ran much faster. I was in better shape last year after a perfect spring 2005. The timing of my hard workouts and the weather probably contributed, too. But running too fast on my long runs last year also probably hindered my speed training last year and may have led me to peak too soon, both physically and mentally. So I am not too worried about running slower on my first 20-mile run of 2006. For I now, I am happy to have my first pair of big weeks (50 and 52 miles) under my belt. Now I look forward to a consolidation week -- 48 miles, with a long run of only 14 or so. Such periods, which I schedule every three weeks, let the body recover from recent increases in hard work and mileage and adapt to these new stresses. Then I face my next big climb: weeks of 56 and 58 miles, with long runs of 22 and 24. I think of that pair as like the Tour de France entering the Alps for a couple of massive climbs... -----