Ten Tips for a Successful 18 Mile Run

This Sunday’s run will be LONG.  If you don’t know what it feels like to “hit the wall” and want to find out, ignore all of the recommendations Craig and I are providing below.  We guarantee you’ll feel absolutely terrible somewhere around mile 15, if you even make it that far.

So, now that we’ve got your attention, here are the 10 tips for a successful run.


  1. Carbo-load. Increase your carbs toward the end of the week, especially on Saturday.  Examples of good carbs include bagels, oatmeal, baked potatoes, rice, whole grain bread, and fresh fruit.  Consume these extra carbs throughout the day, rather than all at once at dinner.
  2. Hydrate well. Drink plenty of water throughout the day on Saturday so you start out well hydrated on Sunday morning.
  3. Get a good night sleep. Go to sleep early on Saturday and wake up Sunday feeling refreshed.
  4. Put “recovery food” in your car. After a long run, it’s very important to get liquid, carbs, and protein into you as soon as possible.  If you don’t, your body will continue to break down muscle tissue, and you will be hurting big time on Monday, and probably a few days after that as well.  Chocolate milk is highly recommended.  Put a bottle in your car, in a small cooler if necessary.

Sunday Morning Before the Run

  1. Eat breakfast. If you don’t eat breakfast, you’ll run out of energy some time between mile 6 and mile 8. There have been a number of times this season when I’ve been running with someone who’s cruising along at a comfortable pace when about an hour into the run, they tell me how they suddenly started feeling really tired.  My first response is “did you eat breakfast?”  The answer is always “no”.  By then, it’s too late.  You have to keep running to the next station, and after you eat there, it will take a mile or two until it kicks in.  That’s a long time to run feeling lousy. Don’t be one of those runners.  Eat a “good carb” breakfast.
  2. Be sure you have the right clothes. If the 7-day forecast is right, it will be chilly in the morning, and quite warm by the time we finish. Be prepared to leave your layers at one of the water stops,  carry the extra clothing as you shed it, or buy something at a thrift shop that you don’t mind tossing to the side of the road when you no longer need it.

During the Run

  1. Eat and drink at regular intervals.  Have your first snack no later than an hour into the run, and eat something that’s primarily carbs every few miles after that.  Don’t wait until you are already out of fuel.  Depending on what you eat, it can take at least a mile, often more, before you feel the effect, so be sure to eat before you are tired and hungry. If you choose GU,  drink water with it, and not Gatorade.  Also remember that you will be sweating for at least 2 1/2 hours, and possibly as long as 4, depending on how fast you run.  That’s a lot of fluid and electrolytes to replace..  Drink plenty of water; and if you didn’t already have GU, drink Gatorade as well.  Ideally, take a water bottle with you and have a few ounces every mile or so.
  2. Pace yourself for a negative split. If you feel full of energy when you start, great.  Don’t spend it right away.  Invest it. Go easy for the first few miles and save that energy for the end when you’ll need it.  Think “negative splits” – the second half of the run should be faster than the first half.  Check your time at Mile 9, and calculate your pace.  Your time from Mile 9 until the finish should be at least a few seconds per mile faster. Or, just do it by total time.  If it took you 1:30 to get to Mile 9 (that’s a 10 minute mile), try to finish the second 9 miles in a little less than 3 hours.

After the Run

  1. Keep walking. As tempting as it may be to sit down the minute you’re done, don’t do it.  Your muscles need some time to wind down so they won’t cramp up or feel stiff.  Walk around for a few minutes.  You legs will thank you the next day.
  2. Refuel & Rehydrate. Drink that chocolate milk you kept in your car as soon as you can.  Then, eat lots of carb and protein and drink plenty of water throughout the day.  You just ran 18 miles, and your body needs to repair itself.

And one last thing – be proud of yourself.  Eighteen miles is a huge accomplishment!

How will you surprise yourself?

Sunday’s run started out slow for me.  My legs felt like lead, most likely because I had trained too hard during the week and didn’t take a recovery day like I should have.  I pushed on at a pace that was okay, but not where I wanted to be.  At about Mile 10, Craig joined up with me, and stepped up the pace quite a bit. It was a pace I could hold for a 10K, but definitely not one I would even consider 10 miles into a 16 mile run , especially when I had not trained properly the days before.

But, I figured if Craig was willing to run slower than he could in order to keep me company, I would do my part by trying my best to keep up with him.  Also, I figured, the water stop is only a mile or two away, and I could at least hold that faster pace for that long.  Then I thought about how many times I have said to all of you “you can do it”, “believe in yourself”, and that if I didn’t keep up with Craig all the way to the water stop, I’d be a lousy role model.  So I did it.  I held that challenging pace and achieved that small goal I had set for myself.

Craig stayed at the stop longer than I wanted to, and said no need to wait for him, so I took off.  At that point I figured, “Well, I got here at that faster pace, maybe I can keep going at that speed.” Maybe it was that positive messaging, maybe it was that second Clif bar, or maybe it was both, but not only did I hold that pace, I went faster, and, much to my surprise, finished in a time I was really proud of and had never achieved for that distance.

So, why am I telling you all this? I think there are some good lessons here, aside from refueling during your run is helpful and recovery days are important.  These lessons can apply not just to the marathon training, but to all aspects of your life.

1) Getting support from others around you really helps.

2) When the going gets tough, it’s not a reason to quit, it’s an opportunity to challenge yourself.

3) The best way to accomplish a big goal is to break it into a lot of smaller goals that you know you can achieve, and then tackle each one, one at a time.

4) Dream big, Expect a lot from yourself, and take pride in doing better than you thought you could.

Go team!

If you missed a few runs during the holidays…..

This post is directed to those of you who missed a few runs during the winter holidays and/or because of the rain (we ran anyway and it was fun) , and to those of you who are friends with those who we haven’t seen at the workouts lately.

If you are worried that you fell behind in your training, well, you did.  But so what.  You didn’t fall so far behind that you can’t achieve your goal.  The Marathon is still 9 weeks away.  That’s plenty of time to train.

Life is full of setbacks.  What’s important about each setback is what you do next.  Do you quit because you fell a little behind or got off track from your goal, or do you use it as motivation to come back stronger and more focused? Sometimes it’s hard to get started again, but that’s why you’ve got a whole team out to support you.  Come rejoin us.  We’ll be there to cheer you on. And to those of you who can personally reach out to your friends who haven’t shown up lately, please do. Your kind words can make the difference as to whether someone comes back or not.


The Second Trimester Has Begun

Before I tell you about what’s coming for our second trimester, I’d like to publicly thank Nicole for the team breakfast at her place this Sunday.  It was such a nice treat to enjoy an optimal,  post-run breakfast of bagels, cream cheese, muffins yogurt, fruit, granola, and more, while relaxing and unwinding together.

As Craig said on Sunday, we have now begun the “second trimester” in our marathon preparation.  For the last 3 1/2 months, we’ve been focusing on building a solid base, getting lots of miles in and getting your body accustomed to running.  During the next two months, the emphasis will be on gradually adding mileage, with an occasional shorter run to give your body adequate recovery time so you can come back strong for an even longer run the following weekend.  For example, we did 14 mile runs the last two weekends; next weekend will be 12; and then following weekend will be 16.  Our longest run before the marathon will be about 20, as we approach the end of February.  Then, we’ll start your third and final trimester – tapering and mental preparation.  More about that next month.

For this phase, I urge you to listen closely to what your body is telling you. The most common messages your body is likely send you are either “stop running” or “please feed me”.  If you are having pains anywhere, please tell me or Craig.  Don’t try to “run through the pain”.  “No pain, no gain” applies to mental toughness and challenging yourself, it’s not a recommendation to ignore the warning signs of an injury that could sideline you.  The pains may be something we can help you address through proper strengthening, stretching, rolling, changes in your  midweek training or simply taking a break; or we may recommend medical attention.  You have all worked so hard to come as far as you have, so please let us help you take care of yourself so you can cross that finish line.