A wimp needs help

Please help me. I'm aiming for my first 20 miler either tonight or this weekend and I'm getting myself in a right state about it. It's just the words '20 miles' that scare me. I have enough mileage and long runs in the bank to justify attempting this but I'm getting really terrified of the distance.

I've been finding the whole business very difficult this last few days - I'm struggling badly to find the excitement about running my first FLM that I've had since last september when I got my gold bond place confirmation and for the first time, serious doubts about my ability and wisdom in doing this have crept in.

Sorry to whine on but I could really do with a filip from those people who are going through the same training as me at the moment.


  • My 20 milers are generally done alongside the Leeds to Liverpool canal.I run 10 miles then turn back,so I try to be psychological,and pretend it is 2 separate 10 milers,that way it doesnt sound as long.Dont worry about the doubts,we all get those,and like you say you have a good training base,so keep up the training,and good luck.
  • Why don't you just do a 19 miler then add a bit (1 mile?) on at the end?
  • Roger,
    I agree with PW, try and pretend 2 separate runs of 10 miles. Also try and think of the most interesting route you can find.
    Forget about times etc, just take it easy and take in the views ( if there are any).Think of when you get home and how pleased you will feel with yourself. What is the furthest you have done so far?
    If its any consolation, the longest long run I managed to fit in before my first FLM last year was 15 miles. I didnt know about these threads, didnt have a proper schedule.At the time I had read somewhere that so long as you could do 15 miles one month before then that was enough, and i took it exactly as that.The morning of the run , I was talking to fellow runners on the bus who had ALL done at least one 20 mile!!!- PANIC. But I was fine and finished in 5.09, not fast i know but I loved every minute, thats the truth.
    Believe what everyone says Roger, If you crack this 20 miles at the weekend , you CAN do the FLM. The crowd, adrenaline and excitment will carry you round.
    Before you set off for your 20 miler, just think of why youre doing it. Think of the many thousands rejected , who would love to be in your shoes.
    Go On- Enjoy it. It'll be fine

  • roger

    you can definitely do it. i used to think 5 miles was a long way and now i'm up to 18 miles.

    i think we're pretty much the same mentally, i just want to get on and run the bloody marathon now, and the excitement i've had throughout is now being replaced with a sense of impatience and frustration.

    as others have said, don't think about it as a 20 miler. instead break it down into 5 or 10 mile chunks, or alternatively try and disassociate yourself from the whole mileage thing by just running and every now and then take a quick look at your watch to work out how far you've done so far. when running alone, i usually either listen to the radio (one headphone in, one headphone out just in case i bump into local deviants), or try and just take in the views(which is a bit hard when you're running in hackney!).

    keep going, not long now, and then there is the big payback - the marathon itself!

  • Roger

    If you break your run up in your mind into managable chunks (say 3-4 miles) that may help. I found on Sunday at Silverstone if I concentated on 1 mile stretches the time flew over and I did the lot in 1:45 which is much quicker that I usaully go.

    Everyone goes through this, I've got 9 to do tonight and 18 at the weekend and trying to put them off, I'm sure once I'm running I'll be fine the same goes for you.

    Hop to it

  • Roger,
    that's all really good advice - the longest I've run yet is 15 because I've developed shin splints (ouch) but I definitely find breaking the longer distances up into manageable chunks makes the time fly quicker.

    Giving your self rewards too can help - like eating jelly babies after 10, then after 15, then after 17 and so on which makes the second half of the run fly by much quicker.
    It may be playing games and fooling yourself but I find it works :)
    Good luck and enjoy - you certainly will once you're into it.
  • My route is about 6.5-7 miles so I don't go out with the intention of doing 20, and then by the time I've done 2 laps I think 'it'd be a shame to go home now, got this far, might as well go round one more time'.

    I guess it is all psychological. Just think how proud you'll be of yourself after you've done it!
  • Divide it up into blocks. much easier.
    When i did FLM 2y ago i though- ive got 4 10ks to do- 4 easy training runs-
    Dont go thinking s##t 20 miles- think 4 x 5 or 2 x 10/etc..
    Go slow. Enjoy not dread !
  • Yep, divide it up into chunks. Instead of doing chunks by time/ miles, think of milestones on your route; then, when you are running only think of the next milestone (may be 1 min away, may be 15 away) and once you've got to it give yourself a slap on the back (not literally of course!!) and then aim for the next one. Sometimes I find this easier than thinking about miles or minutes.

    Another idea is to lose the watch. It is sometimes painful to see that you have run an hour but still have X to go!!

    Finally, think of how good you feel after the run. You may ache a bit, but it'll be a great achievement.
  • Got any running friends who could join you for the last 6 miles?
  • I guess you've already run over 15m. what you could do is plan a 16m that ends 4 miles from home then plan to run the 16m and you may as well jog the last 4 home!
  • I try to think of time rather than distance I think for me it is easier. Also for the really long runs
    it is nice to go somewhere different to run - it is like a treat - somewhere new!
  • do you run with music? I make up tapes with motivating songs on it.. I find myself laughing away at some of them, but it really helps me. Sometimes when I'm out training I get a shiver going through me when I think of FLM... hope it's excitement not dread.. also I remind myself why I am attempting this madness..and then I feel damn proud of myself... and then b4 I realise a few more miles have been run!!Good luck!
  • Hello there :)

    I know how you feel - that's exactly how I felt this time last year, training for my first marathon. You've done the mileage, and you CAN do the 20 miler. As others have said, it's psychological now. The great thing about it, though is how good you're going to feel when you've done it. It was at that stage that I finally realised that I was going to be able to run a marathon: I knew that if I could do 20 then I could do 26.2. I'd not been sure about it until then!

    See if you can get someone to run/cycle/whatever some of the way with you, but if you can't then just prepare yourself mentally and go out and do it, steadily. You are going to feel so good when you get home again! :)

    Don't worry - you'll be fine :) Good luck :)
  • Roger, there's one really important thing to remember that should help you. The weekend runs are supposed to be long SLOW distance runs. The idea is to run well below race pace. So don't think of it as your Silverstone effort plus half as much again. You should be running a lot slower than that, and just concentrating on the distance. Take it really easily. If you need to stop and walk, then stop and walk for heaven's sake. The idea is not to torture yourself but to gradually extend your endurance.

    Try to run somewhere scenic and calm. Canals and rivers are good, or smaller country routes. Try to enjoy your surroundings, and remember how far you've come (in all senses of the phrase) in a short time.

    A 20 mile run is a good time to try gels, and make sure you have a plan for keeping hydrated - particularly after the halfway point.

    Have a great run.
  • Thanks to all of you. I headed out last night, got to 14 miles using gels, loads of water and taking it steady and then got the most uncontrollable shivers and felt very very ill so I headed home and contemplated what went wrong.

    My conclusion is that a Half Marathon last sunday, 5 miles on tuesday, physio and yasso reps on wednesday and a bad cold and cough didn't exactly set me up well for an attempt at the big barrier.

    I'm now going to take it easy for the next week and go for it at the Cranleigh 21 mile race a week on sunday.

    But thank you to you all, your advice and encouragement is spot on as usual and very gratefully received.
  • Take it easy Roger, you sound llike youve been over doing it a bit. Listen to your body and rake a couple days well deserved rest
  • A bad cold and cough? That probably explains everything. You've made the right decision - take a break and rebuild your strength.
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