You won’t find mental training on your plan.
It’s not 10 reps of 30 seconds with 1 minute of rest. It’s rarely something that is specifically prescribed because it feels intangible, a little untrackable…and yet most repeat marathoners will tell you the mental aspect of running was essential to their success.
Marathon plans are laid out with a gradual progression of speed work, tempo runs and long runs that will train your body to handle the rigors of 26.2 miles. A few plans will also spend a paragraph or two on mantra’s or visualization, but very few really tell you how finishing a marathon is nearly 50% mental and 50% physical.
I know, tradition says running is 90% mental…but if that were the case I’d just lay on my couch and visualize a Boston Qualifying race 90% of my training. I find that unlikely to work.I know a lot of athletes who could physcially run 26.2 miles, but cannot mentally make the leap. So they either never try, start a plan then quit, or commit and then find themselves in a world of anguish on race day.
Which brings us back to mental marathon training and how to apply it to your next big goal.
What is Mental Marathon Training?
Mental training is about getting your mind to a place where you can work through discomfort. In fact, wayyyy back in 2007 I started doing audio chats about this topic, ya there weren’t podcasts in the olden days, but I was so passionate about it I wanted to share.
Then as with most things I had other areas of focus, so I went back to writing an didn’t dive deeper in to that wonderful world of audio. I know, I deprived you of a great service.
Now, I’m making up for it!
The athlete mindset, mental training, can be as small as having a pair of lucky socks, to creating your own race mantra to designing a massive vision board you hang over your bed! It depends on how invested you are in the goal and how much you’re willing to believe in the power of changing your mindset for results.
However you do it, it will teach you how to develop mental toughness for running.
How to Implement Mental Training for Your Run?
There are a lot of amazing techniques available, but I think there’s a general process that works for so many of us:
- Select the area you need to work on most (confidence for distance, speed, staying injury free)
- Select a mantra that surrounds that topic
- Find a way to remind yourself during a run to use that mantra (write it on your hand, put a random voice memo in your playlist, sticky note by your computer)
- Review post run how things went
- Daily reminders outside the run
- Practicing seeing yourself as a strong athlete
Now that looks fairly straightforward, but it’s just step one in helping you to get on board mental training by using what you’re already doing. Yup, that’s the key to a new habit.The missing piece to your marathon training: mental training! Find out how to make it part of your training #running #runchat Click To Tweet
How to Improve Your Mental Endurance?
I’ve shared a variety of different posts around this topic, so I’m going to pull out some of my favorite tips, along with some new one’s to help you find one that will do the most to get you running stronger.
Intentionally Make Mistakes
That’s right let go of the need for perfection and you might find it easier to simply DO the task at hand. I really love this idea of just making a mistake…think of the first time you dinged your car, suddenly it was like ok well that happened now it’s not perfect and I don’t need to obsess about where I park any more.
Get more of these tips in my post on thinking like an elite runner or these lessons from Olympic athletes.
Confidence Booster Runs
Sometimes what we really need is just one run to go our way and help us get out of a rut or maybe a string of rough runs.
Here’s one of my 5 favorite confidence runs you can try today, the 5-minute extension:
Marathon training plans can feel overwhelming as you begin to spot the continued mileage increases every week, but to boost confidence, nothing beats taking immediate action.
Extend your next run just by five minutes.
It might not seem like a lot, but even a short amount of time is enough to start changing pathways in the brain and help you reconsider what is possible.
Develop an Alter Ego
This last week I finished a new book called The Brave Athlete: Calm the F**K Down, which is all about taming our crazy mind from feeling fat to race day nerves. There’s a ton I could share, but I think this tangible idea is quickly actionable!
Instead of just acting as if or fake it til you make it, it’s time to create an entire alter ego that you can step in to on race day or during hard workouts. Turns out lots of greats do this, eh hem Sasha Fierce for Beyoncé!
Example: My alter ego has a game face that’s intense, eyes a little squinted in deep focus, an energy welling up from inside, no time for handshakes and giggles, a driving thought that nothing will stop her. She’s going to find the discomfort of pushing and hold on to it for dear life because that’s where the results are.
Now my normal run isn’t anything like that, but feeling it deep down does incredible things on race day.
Stop the Negative Voice on Runs
I could go on for day about this one single idea, but I shared a post on it, so instead here’s an example for you. Learn how to take that negative self talk and force yourself to re-write it.
Fear: I’m not in good enough shape to be a runner. I’ll hurt myself and not even finish.
Flip it: My body is strong and will get stronger every time I lace up my sneakers. I am a runner because I run.
Stop Holding Yourself Back
At first, this idea seems silly…and yet when you start to dive in to it, you realize we have all kinds of hang ups about what we believe is ok for us to achieve based on society or past experiences.
Take this story shared by Gabby Reece:
The Coach of a men’s Olympic volleyball team, singled out Karch Kiraly and said this is up to you to win, you take this hit. They went out and did it. Later Karch was a Olympic women’s coach and tried the same tactic (on his player), but it failed horribly with the women.
We’ve been taught that good girls put others first, so we shy away from being singled out for our talents.
Read more on how to stop holding yourself back (overcoming those societal beliefs!)>>
How much attention do you pay to your mental training?
What’s helped you the most?
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