A Positive Mindset For Marathon Running: 8 Tips For Bringing The Battle To The Finish Line

Running a marathon requires a lot of effort. That’s a fact. There are the windy runs, the challenging hills, the mental fatigue, and niggling injuries. We wouldn’t go further if we examined the situation for a moment. Living our lives based on the idea of enduring pain is completely insane in a mental aspect.

The physical and mental challenges of running a marathon go hand in hand. Negative thinking, being nervous and expecting to fail can make it all the easier to start off on the wrong foot.

Mental preparation for a race is entirely up to you.

It is possible to choose to believe that everything will work out. If you believe it, it will. Ignore those voices inside of you that tell you otherwise. It’s just a matter of taking one step at a time and keeping moving forward. Feeling at ease and confident as a marathon runner can influence your performance significantly. 

Whatever marathon you are preparing for, these tips will help you build marathon mental strength.

Keep your motivation in mind

Don’t lose sight of why you want to run the marathon. Love life even more? Personal challenge? Helping others? Recruiting/raising funds for a charity or cause you to choose? Donate to tsunami and earthquake victims? Running a marathon is by no means the easiest way to achieve your dream. 

But what it does achieve is getting you in shape and developing your running and time management skills.  Don’t ever forget the reasons you started on this journey and never give up at any point! Ensure that these reasons are lofty and stretch your imagination.

Think back to standing on the start line of your first marathon 

Also think about how incredible your first marathon must have felt, even if you dug deep and just got around. Try to imagine what you would feel like knowing that you’d done it before and that feeling is a massive motivator for going out there on Sunday and having another one.

Stop comparing yourself to friends/family who is faster or slower than you

Train accordingly. We’re all different shapes and sizes, our muscles react differently to running or any other activity so trying to adhere to someone else’s regime is inevitably doomed to failure halfway through training. 

Err towards the ‘lighter’ side of your training program as there will be plenty of time for catching up when race day arrives- even if it means taking a short rest week during training, run slower than usual on some days (especially long runs) and enjoy!

Make sure every day doesn’t equal a season’s long run

Your body needs technical breaks, good fats in the diet not just carbohydrates and rest at regular intervals (if necessary giving your body less time between a warm-up mile and racing). Include easier fartlek type sessions plus half-marathon, cross-training in as much as don’t neglect gym workouts.

Commit to treating yourself

Running is your hobby, not everyone else’s, keep it that way by working according to what you enjoy and don’t let yourself be constrained by anything external to you (including other people). Give yourself positive self-talk and a treat once a month as a reward- even if it means bingeing on crap food. Don’t be hangry on run days and don’t ‘undo’ sacrifices by punishing your body through regular mindless eating- careful what you eat! JUST RUN!!

Understand how much training is enough

Ask yourself the question before embarking on the session and make sure that you perceive the session as hard work- it doesn’t feel hard enough then either alter its composition or adjust your starting pace accordingly so that it encounters resistance. If after each session- however tough you envisaged- its too easy then next time select a harder route, make rest recoveries longer or increase intensity (unload after short powerful surges for example) Again, DON’T BE ANGRY about running when not in an angry mood…..think about stuff on an easy day!!

Change your sets in training

One more hill repeat than last time, one more cross-training workout next week for the best endurance runner! Weight train for strength during an ISU season to avoid soft tissue injury, get a proper night’s sleep after racing (even if that’s a lie down on the stairwell for ten minutes). 

Ignite the side muscles when doing clean ‘spooning’ arms during swimming technique improvement sets. Whenever you feel sluggish in training plus self-sabotaging thoughts, bring this awareness to your preparation and make alterations at once with relaxed urgency.

Consistency is the key

Believe that hard work gets results-but know also that ‘consistency’ is key- so even if you’re tired don’t miss workouts rather start off with some exercise other than running and keep planned hard set sessions short and intense, with plenty of time to rest afterwards. 

Set race result goals before starting a season but remember race day mood is equally important as psychological strategy aiming towards success at each stage of a race. Focus on positives during racing rather than failures of past races- you’ll be surprised how fast results can come when working along positive lines…but also allow yourself failure occasionally- everyone messes up now and again, it’s all part of the learning experience.

Flex your mental resilience

Test yourself during training consistently. Accept that this approach will ‘feel’ very hard sometimes- and remind yourself that when it feels easy, then it usually means you’re taking it too easy….THIS IS THE STUFF THAT MAKES THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BETTER AND BEAST.

You’ll feel less tired than your competitors- but most of all like all competitors you’ll just want to finish the race before having a rest afterwards with your family or by taking part in some non-running sports activity you perceive to be fun!!


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