It’s no secret that you have to physically train for a marathon, but any seasoned marathoner knows that there is also a huge mental component to finishing 26.2 miles. It’s true! You not only have to run 26.2 miles to finish the race, you also have to handle the thoughts that run through your head for 26.2 miles! I call this the Mental Marathon, and you can make going the distance that much easier if you make an effort to toughen up your mental strength during the weeks prior to your marathon.
Run long on the Dreadmill.
I am entering Week 17 of training for what will be my third full marathon. One thing I always make sure to do during my training is to get in a few long (and painfully boring) treadmill runs. I try to do at least an hour on the treadmill a few times during my marathon training because heck, if I can fight the urge to jump off the hamster wheel after 6+ miles, then I can definitely make it through hitting the wall at Mile 20 on race day.
Train at the crack of dawn, or earlier.
Make a point to do some offensively early training runs and workouts. I set the alarm for 4:45 am and suck it up knowing that if I can rise at the crack of dawn to get in some exercise even though I don’t really have to, I’ve got the mental stamina to make it through the low points of my race. If I can do it, so can you!
Run in the rain, sleet, snow, cold, or heat.
It takes will power to stick with your planned miles when the weather is not cooperating. If you can endure running in the elements, as unpleasant as it can sometimes be, you have the mental strength needed to make it to the marathon finish line. Plus, if the weather is less than ideal on race day, it won’t psych you out because you’ve already been there, done that.
By naked, I mean ditch your music if you normally rock out during your runs. That little voice in your head telling you to head home early will be more prevalent without your music and you can practice telling her to shut the hell up. Then, when she comes out on race day telling you to quit because your legs hurt, you will know exactly how to handle her!
See your big finish.
Visualize yourself in all your glory at the marathon finish line. See yourself wrapped in a foil blanket, shiny medal around your neck. Hear the crowd. See your family’s proud faces. Take these happy thoughts of the future and keep them close to your heart during your race so that you can make them a reality. When your body wants to quit and you are starting to believe that you might have to, see your big finish and make it happen. You can do it!
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