It’s at this point in marathon training that the runs start to get long. Actually, they have been extremely long for the past several weeks. Something seems to happen after mile 10, it is hard to describe, but your body starts to ask the question: can I really go this far? It’s those silly thoughts that start to cause doubt in your mind and suddenly everything past 10 miles starts feeling harder.
There are several physiological changes that take place at 10 miles. Your heart rate increases, your breathing is a little faster, and your muscles start looking for other sources of energy. But it seems that the mind has a greater impact as to what happens after mile 10. You choose how to react to the fact that your body is tired and your legs are getting sore.
And this is the challenge I am facing as I prepare myself for 20 miles this weekend. Mile 15 is hard for me. I have gotten past mile 10, but mile 15 has become the new hurdle. I know a lot of it is my body learning to move forward past mile 15. I will say that each time I approach mile 15 it gets a little easier. And I know that after sometime, mile 15 will feel like mile 10 does.
It’s at mile 15 when you realize that you are just over the halfway point of a marathon. It’s at mile 15 when you realize that you still have 11 more miles to go. It’s at mile 15 when you realize that 26.2 miles is really a long distance to travel on two feet. But it doesn’t have to feel that way. And I don’t plan on it feeling that way for much longer.
The marathon has been ever elusive for me. Every time I plan on a marathon, something goes wrong. Yet the marathon is the most critical component in the Ironman for me. I know I can do the swim and I survived the bike. But those 26.2 miles have evaded me for the last 3 years.
And so on March 2nd, I head up to Universal Studios to begin the long journey. I begin a voyage of discovery. I will learn what a marathon is. I will understand how a marathon feels. I will finish a marathon.
This weekend is the 20-mile run. It’s interesting that all marathon training plans peak with a 20-mile run.
Yet one of my favorite descriptions of a marathon makes one wonder if we should train past 20 miles:
‘The marathon – 20 miles of hope, 6 miles of reality.
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