Weekly summary + the 20 mile bonk

Gotta love those four day work weeks. It’s Friday! And what’s even better is that I’m heading on vacation tomorrow. Two and a half weeks in Europe – family, wedding, honeymoon. Yes! Yes! Yes! I am beyond excited about this trip and can’t wait to set foot on that plane tomorrow.

This week has been crazy busy – hence the complete lack of presence on the blog world but I think things are finally organized – besides last minute packing. One thing that has stayed on schedule is marathon training. It is exactly one month until I run the Twin Cities marathon – just four full weeks of running to go with most of that being my taper. Here’s how the last week went down.

Saturday: 4 miles at 7.13 min/mile pace + 1 mile at 8.17 min/mile pace

Sunday: 20 miles at 9.01 min/mile pace

Monday: 5.25 miles at 9.32 min/mile pace

Tuesday: 1.4 miles at 8.42 min/mile pace + 6.5 miles at 7.47 min/mile pace + 1.7 miles at 9.36 min/mile pace (9.6 miles total)

Wednesday: Rest

Thursday: 5 miles on the trail at 11.06 min/mile pace

Friday: 8.05 miles at 8.08 min/mile pace

Reading back through my training paces it looks pretty good but that would be hiding the bonk that was my first every 20 miler. I do my long runs on Sundays, and I always run the day before (usually at a pretty decent pace for me) -> getting used to running on tired legs.

I pushed it for the 5 miler on Saturday (average pace was 7.23 min/mile, although my Garmin decided it didn’t want to connect with any satellites that day). The rest of the day was spent cleaning the house (my house needs to be spotless before I leave for vacation) and hitting the salon for a much needed haircut. We then headed for dinner with friends who made the most amazing seared tuna. The one thing that didn’t happen on Saturday -> proper refueling.

My Sunday 20 miler started pretty well. I like to take the first couple of miles to warm up and then settle in to a comfortable pace. I mentally split my runs into parts so I try not to think about the crazy long distance that I’ve decided to run. It was a little overcast and in the high 50s so perfect running weather. By halfway I was feeling totally great. Things started to feel a little hard at mile 14 before the wheels totally came off at mile 18.

The last two miles were ugly. My legs felt so tired. I really wanted to stop. And I had to bargain with myself to make it home. Once I stopped running things didn’t get better. I felt like I couldn’t eat anything. The chocolate milk I managed to get down almost made a reappearance, and I felt completely off. I managed to have a shower and then had to lie down for about an hour before I could even contemplate eating food. My friends, I hit the wall hard.

This was not a good run and had me seriously questioning my ability to run a marathon. If I felt this bad after 20 miles, what was 26.2 miles going to feel like? Plus, I had been thinking of running the race 30s per mile faster than this training pace. How was that ever going to happen? So I needed to go back and find some positives and some lessons to take from this.

Positives:

1. I ran 20 miles. I did it. Even though it was hard I made it.

2. No chafing. I was trying out my race outfit and had no problems. I also had to retire a pair of shoes last week, and wore my newest pair and they felt great.

3. No knee pain. I couldn’t imagine at the start of this training cycle being able to run this far with no pain. That is pretty amazing.

4. Highest weekly mileage ever: 45.55 miles

5. Highest monthly mileage ever: 191 miles

6. I ran 20 miles!

Lessons:

1. I need to eat more. I’ve noticed that when my weekly mileage increases by 5ish miles I need to eat more or things go badly. My weight has been pretty constant for this training cycle – I think I might have gained some muscle and lost some fat but it’s been sitting between 112-115lbs. After my run on Sunday it was 105lb. This is too low for me. So this week I’ve made a conscious effort to get more calories and I’ve been feeling great.

2. Carb loading. This did not happen on Saturday. Pasta + bread needs to happen before all long runs (14+ miles for me).

3. Start gels a little earlier. Drink more during the run. The major downer of this run was a crappy fueling strategy – both before and during the run. Lesson learned. I do not want this to happen again.

I also need to give my body some credit – this is the first time I’ve run this distance (a repeat is happening next week). I remember when I ran my first ever 10 mile run while training for my first half marathon. I thought I was going to die and the last mile was SO hard. Maybe not quite as wiped out as after this 20 miler, but definitely exhausted. Now, I regularly run 8-9 miles as a midweek training run. 10 mile is easy. I know that 20 miles is never going to be “easy” but I’m hoping that it will never be THIS HARD again. Perspective is a hell of a thing.

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11 thoughts on “Weekly summary + the 20 mile bonk

  1. charissarunning says:

    Great job! I’ve had a hard time getting to 20 miles as well (in fact, I haven’t in training yet!) and it’s mostly because of the same reasons you just listed, aka I need to eat more and fuel better during my run! Good luck on your next 20-miler…I’m shooting for 18-20 this weekend too. Let’s do this! 🙂

      • charissarunning says:

        Thank you! I made it past 18, but decided to wait to try for 20. Although it wasn’t a solid run, it taught me lessons and armed me with even more mental strength overall that will help me for my next big run.

      • I think marathon training teaches you a lot about yourself and just getting through those (sometimes awful) long runs is the best mental training you can get. Good luck with the rest of your training!

  2. It sounds like you are on the smaller side like I am, and you do have to be careful when marathon training. When I ran my first marathon, I was clueless and ended up under 100 lbs-which is no bueno. It’s hard because most information available about nutrition is geared toward keeping weight off rather than keeping it on. Glad the added calories are helping! 20 miles is a great accomplishment! The last 6.2 will test your mind and body to the limit, but it will be so worth it! 🙂

    • I’ve learned that I can lose weight pretty easily when I bump up my mileage. For me it seems like adding just 5 extra miles a week means I have to add in significant calories. Unfortunately a couple of weeks of pasta and wine in Italy have nudged the scale in the other direction. Oh well. It was totally worth it!

  3. You are doing a great job. I truly believe everyone needs to hit the wall at least once during training to really know what is and isn’t working. So there, you got it out of the way. You are more than prepared. Don’t question your ability. You are doing great!

    • Thanks for the pep talk! I needed to hear it. I think the fear of the unknown plays a big part in training for your first marathon. Constant doubt about whether I can finish 26.2 miles. Luckily my second 20-miler went so much better – I feel like I have my confidence back (and pretty good timing T-5 days.

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