My first 20+ miler in three years

It took a good deal of patient, steady effort, but I knocked out 20 miles on the treadmill this Sunday afternoon over 3 hours 45 minutes. Along with being the single longest treadmill workout I’ve ever run, it’s the first 20 I’ve done since the last time I trained for Vancouver in 2019.

One big help was ironically a pair of shoes I had bought but left mostly unused. On some recommendation I bought a pair of New Balance FuelCell Rebel v2’s this January. Like my Altras, they feel unsteady unless your form is sound, though unlike the Altras they’re lighter, and they have a very spongy cushion. They were a bit weird to walk in, and they’re actually a bit more of a pain to slip and tie on than my Topos/Altras, so I didn’t use them much.

But last weekend I wore them on both my runs, feeling really tired, and discovered that the cushion and ride was actually quite a bit more supportive than my typical minimal Topos. realizing the 20 was going to be brutally long and challenging I decided to wear the NB’s on the treadmill, and they made a huge difference in how the last couple hours of the run went once I began to tire. I underestimated the importance of the cushioning and support once I began to wear down.

So I not only plan to wear the NB’s on future long runs, but I decided I’m going to wear them as my race shoe at Vancouver, mildly ironic given my devout loyalty to Topo over the years (in fact I ran Vancouver 2019 in Topo ST-2 flats).

I have one more critical long run this next weekend. Runalyze’s marathon shape metric (which through some research I’ve somewhat cracked) indicates that going 21+ is critical to getting my overall shape above the minimum 70% threshold I need this time around to make my Vancouver time goal feasible. The metric logarithmically weighs the long run, so going 10-17 miles isn’t a huge deal, but getting the long run to 20-22 is much more of a big deal. And no, doing two 10 mile runs back to back (instead of one 20 miler) is almost worthless to the metric’s long run cofactor. You need your long run to go very long to have an impact.

I could just surrender, do a shorter long run and begin the taper now. This would set me around 59% (I’m at 57% now) and make my B goal my absolute ceiling. If I’m in condition to go 4 hours on the treadmill this weekend (which itself would be the prime objective), then I could go 21-22 and that would get me above 70%.

In fact, though I won’t currently get into how the marathon shape metric does this, it turns out it’s more valuable to add a mile onto a 20 mile run than it would be to run an additional 25 miles elsewhere during the week!

(Obvious caveats: If that extra 25 is mostly part of another single long run, that’s a different story; my premise above is the 25 are spread between multiple non-long runs and recovery days)

In any case, having a shot at my A-goal depends on this next weekend’s long run, just as much as it depended on yesterday’s 20 miler. That’s partially my fault: Had my previous training included more, consistent mileage, perhaps these runs aren’t as critical ahead of the taper. Maybe I’d need only one 20 in April. But here we are, and next time around the final month should be a bit easier (though not by much).

As I mentioned earlier, my midweek workouts while still 90 minutes shouldn’t be as long as last week’s. In fact, if indeed the Vegas weather cools off as expected this week, then I can even do those runs in the park. Then I’ll aim for a 4 hour long run this weekend, and then taper from there.

That’s all for now.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: