Saturday, December 4, 2010

20 milers = Magic confidence pills

Have you ever noticed how much confidence you feel after completing one of your long runs? If you're in marathon training the 20-22 miler range is where you probably peak at in terms of long runs, and half-marathoners usually peak around 10-12 miles for their longest long run. For any race distance though, don't those nearly-race distance long runs really help put a capstone on your training leading up to the race? They do for me.

I've really deviated over the past couple of years when it comes to long run philosophy. For a couple of years, I was absolutely committed to training regimen that was created for me by the coaching arm of the Hansons-Brooks Distance Project (, and their emphasis on a long run of no farther than 16 miles. It was against the age-old conventional 20-22 mile wisdom that has prevailed in marathoning circles for years, but I was a believer. I still am, in fact, but I have softened my adherence to that prerequisite over the past few years as my endurance has improved and injury rate has fallen off.

Back to the topic of confidence - I just (a few minutes ago) completed a 20 miler, and capped a reasonably solid 5 day running week of around 55 miles. I'm happy with that, and I feel great after the 20. I'll be fine for my planned 8 miles tomorrow morning, and should end the weekend with a nice reassurance that all systems remain "GO" for my upcoming Disney Marathon appearance in January. But I started to wonder how my confidence would be standing if I had NOT been experiencing solid long runs in the past few weeks. It's happened before to me, and it's the stuff that sleepless nights are made of. When race day approaches, I don't...check that.... I can't.... have things to look back on in training and see that they didn't go according to plan. That is a recipe for a sub-par performance on race day for me. For me, confidence is everything. We get it from many places and through many avenues.

Long runs are one of the places mine come from.


  1. I'm with you on this one. I love my long runs and most certainly get lots of confidence from them.

  2. I used to be of the old school where for a half marathon you could do 11 miles as your longest long's worked for me, but I never felt confident.

    This time I am going for the Dopey and that means my first full marathon. I have did my first 20 miler and I had a huge gain in confidence. Then I did a 23 miler and that built that confidence even higher. I will be doing a long run of 26 miles...I am now a firm believer that going the full race distance makes a huge difference in how I feel and how prepared I feel. I need to know I can go the full distance - how to fuel for it, how to hit the wall and get past it....I can't do that if I don't go the full distance :)!

    Glad to hear that you're feeling good after your 20 miler and I'm sure you'll meet/exceed your goals in Disney!