Winning the Mental Marathon

By Kelsey – April 1, 2011

Often, the most difficult part of a marathon or other long-distance race isn’t putting one foot in front of the other. The most troubling aspect is usually the extreme concentration these intense races require. The moment you start thinking about how much pain you’re in, or once you listen to the cries coming from the lower half of your body, you’re sure to slide to the back of the pack. So, how do you prepare for the mental marathon?

1) Remember why you’re doing it. You wouldn’t submit yourself to the torture of a distance run without some kind of motivation. Whether it’s to drop a few pounds, prove something to yourself, your family or friends, concentrate on your reason for moving, and keep at it.

2) Know the course. This part of the Mental Marathon isn’t hard to figure out– you need to be aware of what areas on the course are going to require an extra push as well as areas where you can back off a little. So prepare by checking out the course, make notes of hills, wind, shade and anything else you’ll need to know for race day.

3) Accept the pain that comes with effort. This is probably the hardest step to succeeding mentally. The race is going to hurt, but you’ve simply got to accept it. The ability to accept pain is what sets elite athletes apart from the rest, so buckle up and get ready for the burn.

4) Go in with a pacing and nutritional strategy. Reviewing your strategies for pace and replenishing will keep you from crashing midway through, reduce stress and allow for an all-around more enjoyable race.

5) Have a strategy for when something goes wrong. No matter how much you prepare for the race, something can (and usually will) go wrong. The best athletes are the best problem solvers who don’t let a little hitch throw off their whole race. So get ready for some bumps along the way, and don’t freak out when something you didn’t plan for happens.


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