The 20-Mile Dread

This Sunday, I will be running the Thames 20; a paced 20-mile race along the River Thames.

Although I have tackled the 20-mile beast previously (plus I took part in the Thames 20 last year), it still fills me with dread, uncertainty, apprehension and all the other bad things.

This doesn’t make a lot of sense, given the fact that I ran 18 miles a couple of days ago and genuinely enjoyed it (apart from the bit where a cyclist simultaneously ROARED and swore at me when I was running along the canal. That was frightening, and I’m still unsure as to why he was so raging – get a grip). However, I know a lot of runners who feel the same way; it seems that many people have a mental hurdle when it comes to tackling the 20-mile distance.

I don’t think it matters how many marathons I run – I say this because I plan to run many more in the future – there will always be a little voice in my head that says ‘of course you can’t run more than 20-miles, you’re not strong enough, you don’t know what you’re doing’ etc. I know this is a very negative and unhealthy thought process, and for that I apologise, but that’s just the honest truth of how my mind works sometimes.

Of course, it’s natural to experience anxiousness around particular workouts or distances. However, I don’t want this to hold me back, and most importantly I don’t want this to sap the fun out of running. I’m keen to run an ultra this year (even though I was recently told by a non-runner that I will be putting myself at risk of hallucinations and potentially DEATH), therefore it’s important that I learn how to shift my mindset.

I have a few mantras, although these seem to be more effective during shorter, faster runs. I’ve created a rather spectacular long run playlist, which definitely helps. I plan out my post-long run meals (plural because there are so many, most of which involve me inhaling copious amounts of sweeeet, delicious, crunchy peanut butter) which ALWAYS helps.

All the above, plus a number of additional techniques, are things that are helpful to me during a long-run. However, it’s the pre-20-mile nerves that I want to focus on, which on this occasion I seem to be experiencing almost a week in advance of the run.

How do you tackle the 20-mile beast, or any distance/workout that you find intimidating? Now, more than ever, your suggestions would be ever so helpful!

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