When An 18 Mile Run Makes You Feel Hungover

In any marathon training plan that I’ve seen there will be at least one 18 mile run, maybe two.  But when I thought about it after my successful 18 mile run yesterday, I think there was only one other time I’ve been able to conquer the 18 miles.  And that was when I actually had a shorter run (still a long run, but a shorter long run) on the schedule, but others in my group pushed me to go longer.

For whatever reason, I’ve determined that 18 mile runs are more difficult than 20 miles.  And, obviously, more difficult than 16 mile runs.  Does anyone else operate in even-number increments when it comes to long runs?  I’ve never even considered doing a 17 mile run or a 19 mile run.

I even just checked back at my running log from Chicago Marathon training in 2013 and found 2 occasions that started with I intended to do 18 today, but…” and those resulted in 16 mile runs.  Found the posts about each here and here.  I should write another poem post again.  Stay tuned for that.

I actually thought about one of this 16 mile run from 2013 a lot on my run yesterday because I was doing a similar route from my parents house.  Here was the data from that run, just for old time’s sake:

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Also with the clunkier Garmin…

I’m thinking maybe the 18 mile run is difficult because it doesn’t have the “prestige” and isn’t built up quite as much as the 20 mile run(s) during a marathon training cycle.  But an 18 mile run is still really far!  So here’s how mine went down:

I decided last minute Friday night to come home to my parents’ house in the suburbs for the weekend because my brother Patrick decided to come in town from St. Louis.  I had in my head that I wanted to do 18 miles, but said I’d also be happy with anything over 16 since my previous longest run this year so far was 15 miles.

Taking the advice of Catherine, I set my Garmin to only show the running time and not even show the mile splits.  I figured this way I could have a good measurement of distance, but not worry about pace the entire time.  I was, however, expecting that I’d be able to see mile splits after the run, but I was not.  I’ll have to figure that out.  This also allowed me to have the freedom of running anywhere I want and not needing to remember where I ran so that I could go map it later.

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Sorry, spoiler alert on the picture, but had to get one in there!

I slept in until 9 and then finally set out for the run around 10:30am.  The weather was sweet and I had no plans the rest of the day, so no need to wake up early to get it in!  Actually, the weather was so sweet that I originally had on capris and a long sleeve, but stepped outside to the driveway and turned right back around to put on a short sleeve shirt.  I kept the capris on, but definitely could’ve gone for shorts, or even a tank top too.

My dad, brothers, and cousin Joe were golfing at a course nearby, so I decided I was going to run up there.  It only took be 31 minutes to run there and I didn’t immediately see them from the road and didn’t want to disturb the others golfers by running on the course.  So instead, I just used the bathroom at the starting house, and continued on my way.  The starter gave me the evil eye for this.

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I continued to run up and down some residential streets, then eventually got back on a busier road to do a route I was pretty familiar with.  I hit an intersection at 1:05 into the run that I thought was about 3 miles away from my house, so I decided I would just plan to be back at that intersection at 2 hours, which would get me home around 2:24.  That should be about 18 miles, assuming I was doing an 8 minute pace.  I made sure to not push the pace, especially at the beginning and tried to just relax and enjoy the beautiful weather.

At about 1:25 into the run, I stopped at a Burger King to get a small cup of water to take my Gu with and ended up using the bathroom again really quickly too.  I expected to start up again feeling crappy, but I actually felt surprisingly great.  I just concentrated on getting back to that intersection and then I’d be homefree.

After the Burger King stop, I even thought maybe I’d try to pick up the pace for the last 3 miles.  But when I got to that intersection, I wasn’t quite ready to do so.  I kept trucking along and as I passed the YMCA, I saw mom’s car there (she was at Zumba) and figured I’d see her driving home as I was running the final stretch, but apparently she went a different way home to make another stop.  Once I hit the point that I knew it was 2 miles from home, I picked up the pace.  That didn’t end up lasting too long – maybe about half mile.  Then I just needed to hold on until I got back home.

Stopped my watch at exactly 2:25 and was super pumped to see 18.27 miles!

And then, I collapsed onto the driveway…after calling into my mom, who had just gotten home from the Y, to bring me a water bottle and towel.

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Ouch.  The real pain came about an hour or so later though, when we went to Home Depot and I was fairly confident I was going to die right there in the store.  I had to sit down in the aisle for a minute and then found a pile of mulch I could sit on.

After a Gatorade, a bowl of ice cream (I couldn’t stand the thought of real food…), and a few hours of sitting around, I was finally ready to eat and socialize.  Joe, Kathleen, and Kelly were planning to cook burgers & mac ‘n cheese and watch the Hawks game, so I happily joined them.

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I only had 2 beers during the game, so I obviously wasn’t drunk, but the way I felt Sunday was kind of equivalent to how I feel when I am hungover – very dehydrated and not at all on my top game.  That run took a lot out of me.  Nevertheless, I got a lot done Sunday, including working out!  More on the rest of the weekend to come though :)

What is your favorite long run distance?  The 20-miler or some other distance?  Do you also only think of long runs in even numbered increments??

2 Thoughts on “When An 18 Mile Run Makes You Feel Hungover

  1. Honestly can’t believe you’ve never attempted to run 17 miles, if only in my honor. Also the 20-miler of 2013 when I took you to WAG was the time you did two 20-milers in one week I think. #memory

  2. Early in marathon season, we have odd number long runs (5, 7, 9), and then we do have one 15 miler in there, but after that, it’s mostly even numbers for the rest of the way through the race. Though to be honest, my 16 miler has almost always gone way, way worse than my 18 or 20 miler! That’s the one I dread the most. Hope you’re feeling nice and recovered from your run by now :)

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