They say there’s no real difference between 13 and 14 miles or 18 and 20 miles. I don’t agree. Twenty is in a whole ‘nuther category called – THE NEXT GROUP OF TENS!
I see why they’re saying it. It’s a mental thing. It lessens the fear and magnitude of going further when you say to yourself, “Hey, you are already running 3 hours so what’s 3 hours and 10 minutes?!” But in lessening the magnitude, aren’t you… lessening the magnitude?? Doesn’t fear make the final accomplishment taste sweeter? Why are we trying to eliminate fear? Why are we trying to take away that ending where we’re like “Holy shit I just ran 26 miles?! YESSS!!!! I am AWESOME!!!!” ?
Because that’s what it sounds like we’re doing. Hey, what’s 26.2 miles when you’ve already run 20 or 22? No big deal. Um, except it is a big deal. How many of us were running 20+ miles 6 months ago? Sure, some people just rock those numbers all day every day. But the people I hear this from are the newbies. The ones who have never ever run 15 in their lives, let alone 20, let alone 26.
I’m not saying be like me. I’m not saying hold your spouse hostage every single Saturday night for 12 weeks so they can listen to you say “I don’t think I can do tomorrow’s run! I’m not prepared for 8 miles right now. 14 miles! Oh my god oh my god, no way. What if something happens?? My ankle feels weird. 17 miles?! It’s soooo lonnng! I’m not sure I can do it. SHHHH!!! I KNOW I did 15 miles last weekend! What’s your POINT?! You don’t get it!! I hate you! I hate 17 miles!!!”
No… don’t do that. But let me tell you, there’s a mini celebration in my house every time I build on my long runs. There is a crazy sense of accomplishment and validation because I looked at fear and self-doubt and kicked them in the face! I guess those “no big deal” people don’t have those same victory parties each week. Are they going to have a victory party on race day? Are they Team Just Adding A 10k? (for the record, I may be on that team come mile 20 myself, but I’m not going into the race like that! I think the difference between 20 and 26 miles is HUGE!!). What if when they told their friends they just ran 26 miles their friends said “Oh yeah? Didn’t you run 26 miles a few weeks ago? Oh. 20 miles? Same thing right? I mean, you knew already you could do it didn’t you?” No, pal! I didn’t!
We’re all going to use what works for us in marathon training and on race day. But, every time I come across someone who is freaking out a little about the outcome of their marathon training or nervous at the thought of race day, I see PASSION. And as E. M. Forster said… “One person with passion is better than 40 people merely interested.”