Training for a marathon can be mentally exhausting as pushing your body to its limit takes months of mental determination, positivity, grit and resilience. From the moment you decide to compete, to crossing the finish line, you’ll undoubtedly experience moments of weakness and the desire to just call it a day. Running a marathon takes serious physical work, but mental training is really important to ensure you run your best race and truly enjoy the experience. There are a number of ways in which you can mentally prepare yourself in the months and weeks leading up to, and during, the race: from the constant repetition of positive mantras, to creating smaller goals. Here are few tips to help you…
Run for the right reason
When training for a marathon, a great way to stay motivated enough to see through hours and hours of gruelling training is if you have something meaningful and important to keep you going. Running a marathon is no easy feat, so make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons. You can then focus on these when the going gets tough. Whether you’re running for a charity, a specific cause, or a person, running for ‘a reason’ will motivate you more than any desire to gain personal glory.
Visualise yourself running and completing the race. Spend a few minutes over the week ‘seeing’ yourself running your perfect race: focus on running strong, executing your game plan, and crossing the finish line with your goal time on the clock above you. Find out exactly what the course looks like and where the difficult sections are – imagine yourself cruising these sections and embracing the challenge.
Pick a few mantras
Having a few power words or phrases will help you get through the race by keeping you focused. E.g. holding you back in the beginning, and pushing you through to the end when you’re exhausted and overwhelmed. Use mantras to keep positive and eliminate negative thoughts.
Break it down
26.2 is an incredibly daunting amount of miles to run, and can seem like an impossible task when you think about it in its entirety. Breaking your run down into smaller goals will make it seem more achievable and help keep you motivated and encouraged as you complete each mini-goal. For example, while training in longer runs, and during your race, create smaller goals like running a mile, 5 miles, rounding the nearest corner -whatever easily achievable goal you like. Keep setting small goals and before you know it you’ll have completed enough of the race to see the end in sight.
If your schedule goes off track
While it’s easy to become worried about getting in every training run, if you’re sick or work gets in the way, don’t worry about missing a few runs. It is much better to get to the starting line slightly undertrained than overtrained, sick or injured. Just make sure you get back to your training plan as soon as you feel better and get your schedule back on track.
If you have a bad training run
Chances are, you’re going to have a bad workout in marathon training. Whilst a couple of bad workouts are to be expected, it’s important to let them go and not overthink. Don’t try to make up the workout the next day, or run too hard during your next session. Mistakes like this often result in overtraining and injury. Try not to let a bad run get you down, forget about it and go into your next training session with a positive attitude!
And, most importantly enjoy race day when it comes. You’ve trained hard for it, so try to enjoy every moment!