- Have a plan. Don't just head out running. Have a route mapped out, preferably one that is familiar. This isn't the time to add in a lot of hills or unfamiliar busy streets to negotiate. I used to write down my routes, turn by turn so that I wouldn't get lost. Make two 10 mile loops if you need to do so.
- Don't change a thing. This is not the time to try new shoes, clothes or nutrition. If you normally have pizza the night before a long run, do that. If you usually have a bagel for breakfast, do that too. Training is all about finding what works but let's keep the tinkering to shorter runs. You won't want any surprises at mile 18.
- Make sure someone knows where you are. Once upon a time, I might actually be missed if I didn't show back up at home. So I'd leave a copy of my route, with my estimated time to return. Ex: Mile 10 7:30 ish, mile 15 8:30 and so on. Even if you are with friends, it's a good idea for someone to know where you are headed.
- Watch your pace. This is not the time to push your pace. Keep it slow. You are building endurance, not speed. Walk if you need to. It's all about time on your feet for your first 20.
- Trust your training. This is a BIG DEAL! You are running TWENTY MILES. In a ROW! Nothing says marathon training like a 20 mile run. You've trained hard and your lungs and your legs know what to do. They are totally prepared for this. You can do this. So much of running your first marathon is mental. Don't let the mileage overwhelm you. Trust your training. Can of corn baby, can of corn.
- Recover. Okay, you just put your body though a lot. Some people take ice baths. Me, I'm meh about them. I've done them, I've not done them. Foam roll. Stretch. Wear your compression socks. Just try not to take a nap. 'Cause if you do, you're not going to be able to climb out of bed. Something akin to rigor mortis sets in. Trust me on this. Go to be early, but resist the urge to take a nap!
- Tell people. Once you're done, share the news of your survival! Post it on Facebook and Daily Mile. Shout from the rooftops, "I ran 20 miles today! In a ROW!" It's a big accomplishment and your friends, runners and non-runners alike, will be excited for you! Even the most seasoned athletes, even ultrarunner extraordinaire Scott Jurek, (with whom I'm a little bit in love) surely remembers his first 20 miler. Mad props to you for doing it!
- Celebrate! Pat yourself on the back! We all know that I have a Nike Tempo addiction. I went out that afternoon and bought a new pair to commemorate the occasion. Get some new socks, a new pair of kicks leading up to the race, something. You just rocked 20 miles!!!
(and then blog about it!)