Marathon Mentality: Why a Positive Mindset Might Be The Key to Your Success
Marathon training is hard work. There's no two ways about it. The long runs in the wind and run, the lung-busting hill sessions, the niggles, aches and pains. If we stopped for and minute and psychoanalysed the experience then we wouldn't take another step- its utter madness, building our lives around a desire to put ourselves through pain.
But , its too late for all that- we're hooked. We just need to find a way to manage and make the best of it! A positive mindset wont just enable you to justify the madness of Marathon running, research has shown it can have a huge impact on your success on Marathon day.
You can do as many miracle sessions, focused long runs or special stretches as you like but the nature of your outlook can put a powerful check on your race success. A confident, relaxed mentality will make a huge difference to your performance.
That's easier said than done- it's only natural that you develop 'maranoia', a nagging sense of self doubt that you're not prepared for 26.2. But here are a few very simple things you can do to help you develop a winning 'Marathon mindset'
Refuse to say anything negative about the Marathon- 'Act' your way confident
Whenever anyone asks you about your race DO NOT reply negatively- even if you want to. You're creating a narrative that is self fulfilling. You need to develop self confidence, which I appreciate, is virtually impossible if you're new to the sport. So, your only option is to act your way confident- fool your brain into believing you've got this! Your brain is incredibly complex but it can be easily manipulated.
Evidence for the benefits of positive self talk are overwhelming. Charlie Spedding, a largely unheralded runner from Britain prepared for the Los Angeles Olympic Marathon by telling himself, every day, that the Marathon would be the best day of his life. He even practised and imagined what this would feel like- running smooth, relaxed and powerfully through tough sections of the race. Come race day he was was utterly convinced it was his day- he won an unexpected bronze medal.
Don't dwell on what's gone before.
You're not alone. Every runner since the dawn of time thought that they could have done more training in the build up to their race. No one is satisfied. There is absolutely no point dwelling on what's gone before- focus your mental energy on what you can do now! Grab a massage, improve your sleep patterns, or focus on eating well and getting the most out of your training- all will be much more beneficial than moaning about missing a few sessions.
Stop building the race up.
The Marathon is undoubtedly an amazing experience, but it is just another long run. Worrying about carb-loading, hydration and pace strategies can be exhausting in itself. You've run long before and this was in the midst of training without all of this race palaver! So don't consume your weight in pasta, or start drinking gallons of water in the lead up to race day.
Approach the race with an inner self confidence. You've done it before on tired legs, with no crowd support, on your own. This should be easy!