As a running coach and county competitor I know all too well that having the physical fitness to complete a marathon is one thing, but having the mental fitness to stay motivated for all 26 miles is another feat entirely, and mental fitness is just as important as physical fitness for getting across the finish line.
Here are my top five tips for powering through:
1. My number one top tip, and maybe quite an obvious one would be to have a great playlist. I find this helps me to get lost in my thoughts and not the miles. But make sure your ipod is fully charged, there’s nothing worse than it running out of battery half way through! It may also be helpful to choose songs with a steady beat, at around the pace you want to run at. That way, when you’re struggling you can concentrate on matching your paces to the beat and it will be easier to keep going.
2. Ignore the mile markers. Don’t think about how many you’ve done or you have to go just take each mile 1 at a time. Try and think of it as 26 short sections rather than one long one, that way every mile becomes a fresh challenge and a fresh start.
3. Keep your eyes up front...not on the watch. Watch checking is fine but give yourself target points for when to check. Every five songs can work well as a marker, or perhaps when you’ve been past several mile markers. Continuously checking will make time seem slow, like watching paint dry. Be strict with yourself and you’ll be surprised what great motivation it can be when you look down at your watch and you’re nearer the end or making better time than you thought!
4. Push through the wall. The wall is a purely mental obstacle and it may well require all of your motivation to push yourself through. Make a list in your head of why you are running the marathon and repeat it to yourself. It could be for personal satisfaction, or to raise money for a particular charity. I like to wear something that reminds me of this charity or person, for example a ribbon on my wrist or a bracelet that is connected to my charity. Just looking at it occasionally can increase my motivation.
5. When you reach that half way point and you realise you have to do it all over again, think back to all the miles you have completed during training. This may well be somewhere in the 100s. It may be 13.1 miles more to go, but it’s the last 13.1 miles of all those you have already completed so you can give it everything.
*Image courtesy of Barry Cornelius
About Becky Hodgson
As a successful 800m runner for Oxfordshire Athletics I have a strong postion on evidence based training and application. Strength training is my passion, passing my knoweldge of lifting on to help other women like myself to see both the physical and practical benefits that strength training has to offer.
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