Besides training and physical fitness, running a marathon also requires a great mental strength alike. Each segment of the marathon is different and has specific mental challenges. So it's important to stay mentally tough and focused throughout the race. The following tips will help you win the mental battles during your marathon run:
Miles 1-10 Miles:
Start out slowly. Before the marathon, every runner is enthusiastic and eager. Hence, most runners start out wayyyy too fast, which is not recommended. Instead, hold back and take it slow at the beginning of your run. You must run your first half of the marathon slower than the second half. This requires a lot of discipline and patience, but it's the key to running an enjoyable and smart marathon.
Don't get it too emotional. Due to all the emotions and excitement, some runners start jumping up and down when they pass friends or family members. You will have the energy to do such things in the first few miles, however, bear in mind that you must conserve your energy throughout the race. That's why you have to stay as relaxed and calm as possible.
Run your own marathon. As mentioned before, many start the race going too fast. You shouldn't worry when tons of people pass you at the start of the race, because you will catch them later when they hit the wall! You need to run your own marathon at your own pace.
Break up the course. Once you reach the mile 10, start mentally breaking up the marathon into a few smaller segments. This way you'll feel the distance is more manageable. For example, when you run through mile 17, think, "There's one six-mile race to pass and I will have about a 5K to go."
Beat boredom. Long runs can be pretty tedious, so you have to find the ways to beat boredom. There are a variety of boredom-battling tricks to distract yourself and keep your mind occupied. For instance, you can play mental games, sing songs, talk to other runners, read spectator signs, or count people along the way. Just find out which ones best work for you.
Try self-talk. Most runners find self-talk useful during the long-distance running, as it reminds you what you have sacrificed and how you have worked to get to this point. Between 15th and 20th mile, many marathoners find that their body wants to carry on with running, but they don't feel mentally tough to keep going. Pep self-talk can help in such a situation. You should tell yourself that you are just mentally fatigued, not physically tired. Just imagine how proud you will feel when you reach the finish line and find an extra strength to push yourself through it.
Set small milestones. Continue breaking up the race into small milestones, mile by mile. Count down the minutes and remaining miles.
Think positive outside the body. You'll most definitely be tired and feel pain during these last miles, but make sure to stay optimistic and avoid negative thoughts while running. Try to think outside your body and focus on your surrounding -- the scenery, signs, spectators, and other runners. That will help you stay mentally tough in the final miles of the marathon.
Running mantras. You need to gather extra strength at this point of the race. For that reason, you should use your own "running mantras." -- a range of short phrases or motivational quotes. They can help you overcome pain, boredom, and discomfort while running. In addition, they can help you eliminate negative thoughts, stay focused, and distract yourself from any fatigue and minor pain you might be feeling. You can write several mantras on your bracelet or arm and use them at different points of the race. Here are a few ideas you can try the next time you run a marathon:
"One step at a time," "Use what you have. Start where you are. Do what you can." "I can, therefore I am." "I will not stop when I am tired. I'll stop when I am done."
I also like to use running mantras like "fast, easy, steady, smooth" to put myself into a sort of running- "trance".
Each long-distance run, especially the marathon, is a big test of physical fitness and mental toughness. Try these tips and make your own race strategy that will help you stay focused throughout your marathon.