These miles are often the tough ones.
Miles 15 through 20, or 18 to 21, or any combination of the numbers after the middle but not quite at the end of a marathon, often require the most mental sustenance to get through. The Marine Corps Marathon countdown series, which breaks down the miles of the marathon for pre-race mental preparation, tackles those miles today.
The series is based on a chapter from an old edition of Runner’s World’s “Guide to Running,” which advocates visualizing a marathon in manageable chunks during your taper to prepare to run the race in manageable chunks come race day. Here’s what the book has to say about the late middle miles: “This is a tough segment for many people. You have been running for at least two hours, yet you still can’t smell the finish. See yourself digging down, working hard, holding your own and starting to pass others.”
Marine Corps Marathon runners are lucky: This chunk of the race takes them on a big, glorious loop around the National Mall. A runner couldn’t ask for better eye candy than memorials, museums and other sights tourists travel thousands of miles to glimpse to keep from thinking of how much of the race is left.
One other treat during this stretch: Runners can pick up some Sports Beans at the aid station at mile 19. Sweet!
Stay tuned for the final installment tomorrow. Previous installments: