The time that I kind of ran 20 miles…

I can’t believe that I am less than 3 weeks away from my first marathon! Unfortunately my training has been going only slightly better than my blogging these past few weeks- spotty at best. After a lengthy debate I made the questionable decision to tackle my planned 20-miler- I knew I needed to get a solid 3+ hour training run in and I also wanted to assess where I was at (vs. where I thought I would be). 

Going into this run I wasn’t feeling very confident- for my last long run (17 miles) I went to bed excited to wake up and run, for this one I was basically hoping for something to prevent me from doing it- not a good way to start. I woke up at 7a, after a pretty crappy night of sleep, and ate 1.5 pieces of toast with almond butter + jam. I was sure to drink plenty of water and actually stretched a bit (a pre-run rarity), as my legs were feeling tight for a 5-miler the previous day (another great sign). I could write a book about everything that went wrong on this run but I think I’ll stick to bullet points instead.

1. My “warm-up” mile was ran at a pace almost 2 minutes faster that what I’ve been aiming for on my long runs.

2. Miles 1-10 were also at a pace 1-2 minutes faster than what I’ve been aiming for on my long runs

3. During the first 10 miles I only took in 2 shot bloks and maybe 4 oz. of water + Skratch. At this point I should have realized that I was doomed

4. I slowed down a bit for mile 11-15, settling in to something closer to my long run pace, and started kicking myself for going out so fast.

5. At mile 15 literally everything fell apart. I was sweating but had goosebumps, I was dying of thirst (and by my calculations probably quite dehydrated at this point) and unable to get down any calories. Despite the fact that I was starving, all I could do was drink plain water.

6. I switched over to walk/run for 15-17.5 and knew that it was just a desperate attempt to salvage the run. I HATE walk/run, I know it works for others but it is hard for me and hurts a lot more, something about the switching back and forth. 

7. At 17.5 I basically collapsed into the grass and vowed that I couldn’t move anymore. My back/abs/shoulders were KILLING me and my legs have absolutely nothing left. I walked the remaining 2.5 miles (with a few half-hearted attempts at running) and really wasn’t sure if I was going to make it home.

This run was definitely a learning experience and honestly makes me terrified for the marathon. I’m not where I need to be (my own fault) and I obviously haven’t nailed nutrition. It’s easy for me to see what I did wrong- I need to eat more before the run and strictly stick to my “fuel early, fuel often” motto. I also need to be drinking more frequently, because that came back to bite me. By the time you realize you are thirsty you are probably already dehydrated. 

So where does this leave me now? 100% focused on this race. I plan to strictly stick to my training plan for the next 3 weeks and hope for the best. I have one last long-ish run planned for next weekend and I’ll use that to toy with my fueling again. I’m cleaning up my diet and adding in some extra core work (my abs are probably the most sore after this disastrous run). 

Any suggestions for how to come back from this terrible run and rebuild my confidence a bit? Any advice for me during these next 3 weeks? HELP!!!


  1. Remember the Turkey Trot from 2011 and how far you have come! Your legs know what to do, and you've got a few weeks to work out the fueling. Have your first water at 2 miles.

  2. Mentally, you have got to shake this off. Yes you were dehydrated and you hit the wall. You hit the wall because you were dehydrated. The solution is to drink more often. A solid rule is to take in 200 calories per hour, so that's one gel and one bottle of gatorade every hour. And the gel has to be taken with water, so I'll typically take in about half a bottle of water every hour too.

    I found that since I listen to music anyway, I drink every song change (3-5 minutes). I like to plan those long routes on loops of 5-8 miles so I can get back to the car and refill my bottles.

    and if you want to scare yourself out of dehydration, read my first marathon race report. Get plenty of water at the finish line too! it's a great read.

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