Mental Training for a Marathon

The pre-race atmosphere is infectious. But when the race starts, can you cope with the mental demands?

The pre-race atmosphere is infectious. But when the race starts, can you cope with the mental demands?

In the preparation for a marathon, not only do you have to consider physical aspects such as the training, but the mental preparation is also important – especially during the race.

Here are some tips on how to prepare yourself mentally for a marathon – to help you maintain your focus and concentration.

Run at your own pace

If you see other runners dashing past you at record pace, do not join them. Just stick to the pace that you are comfortable with, and you will be able to perform well. This may seem quite intimidating, but stick to your own pace.

After all, the marathon is a long race, and starting off too fast may mean that you may have no more energy left in the later stages of the race – making it a huge struggle. Running at your own pace may also reduce your risk of race-related problems such as cramps and muscle soreness.

Break up the race

The marathon is 42km long. But don’t think of it as one 42km race. Try to see it as several small races  joined together. For example, look at it as four 10km races plus an extra 2km. This will help to make the distance feel more manageable.

As well, once you have reached each mental barrier, allow yourself a short water break, of about 30 seconds to a minute, to refresh and recharge yourself before carrying on with your race. But of course, not too long – otherwise it may slow you down.

Keep your mind occupied

After running some distance, your mind may feel bored and so you could start to wonder why you are running. When this happens, try to do something to distract yourself, such as talking to your running buddy or fellow runners along the route or looking at the scenery around you.

These simple tactics will give you something to do and you will be able to carry on running, without thinking about the endless distance stretching on in front of you.

Think Positively

The worst thing that you can do during the race is to doubt yourself. This will only hinder your progress and may result in you dropping out of the race.

Instead, you should focus on all of the hard work that you have put in and the months of training for this race – as well as the personal satisfaction that you will get at the end. These positive thoughts to propel yourself towards the finishing line should help you to actually get there in one piece.

Do not focus on your pain

In the final 10 to 12 km of the race, you will definitely start to feel some pain in your legs and muscles. But do not focus on this. If you do, the distance will start to feel like agony and will increase your likelihood of choosing to drop out of the race.

So do not think about the pain. Instead, try to focus on your surroundings, such as the beautiful scenery. This will distract your mind and help you take another step closer to the finishing line.

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  • Ernestine Patnode says:

    Great post. I’m dealing with a few of these issues as well..

    • Priscilla says:

      Marathon training is never easy, I defintiely agree, but when you cross that finishing line, you will feel that everything has paid off. 🙂

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