Beginning runners want to distract themselves from the effort of running. They blast music, bargain with themselves, and try to make it stop. More experienced runners realize that awareness and submission are essential parts of the running experience. As runners, we learn how to tune in to our own internal rhythms and block out external distractions.
Ask a marathoner to describer the scene during at a point during the first 5 miles of their race, and they will provide you with rich, vivid detail. Now ask them to do the same for miles 22 and 23 and see what they have to say. They will tell you that the shades were pulled low and they were fighting a battle with themselves, just trying to move forward one step at a time.
Distance running requires a disciplined mind and immense willpower. Fortunately, marathon training will develop both. As you begin to run longer distances, your mind will adapt to the tedium and repetitive task of running by entertaining itself.
Somewhere along the coastline I forgot I was running. My mind muted the clamor of signals from my muscles and joints and wandered to other, more interesting places. The experience is not unlike being pleasantly drunk and realizing you’ve suffered a 30-second memory lapse.
Much like the Bermuda Triangle, the runner’s high is an elusive place that can’t be found intentionally. Sometimes it doesn’t appear at all. But when it does, I relish it. My most creative and inspiring ideas occur when I reach this point in a run. I see meaning in the most insignificant details.
Minutes later, the spell breaks and my thoughts come back to the present. How much distance had I covered? A mile or two perhaps? Once again, I could feel the fatigue in my legs as I started climbing the hills back home. – Searching for the Runner’s High
During the race, your mind will keep track of pace, hunger, thirst, fatigue, signs of injury, fueling strategies, running form, and hundreds of other factors that go into running a successful marathon. Your mind will slow you down in the beginning, monitor your effort levels midway through the race, and overrule your body’s demands to stop as you cover the last few miles.
Training Your Mind to Become a Better Runner
Practice pace and learn what it feels like. If you know your pace by feel, it will make it easier to maintain over the course of the marathon. Running by effort is a more natural measure than running by time.
Focus on your breathing. Find a count that works for you. For example, a hard effort might be 2 steps in and 2 steps out. A marathon pace might be 3 steps in and 3 or 4 steps out. Everybody’s different, but once you learn your rhythm it will help you stay on target.
Check your form. Are your feet landing under you? Are you slapping your feet or slamming your heels? Are your arms crossing your body too much? Are you standing up tall with your hips forward? Yes. No. No. Yes. Good.
Read the Fuel Gage. Is it time for a drink? Is it time for a snack? When is the last time you had something? What should you grab at the next aid station, water or sports drink?
Visualize Success. What are you going to do when you cross the finish line? What will the clock say? How will you feel? What will you wear on race day?
Stay positive. You can do this. Run the mile you’re in now. Don’t worry about what is coming up and how much farther you have to go.
- EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT RUNNING YOUR FIRST MARATHON
- TRAINING FOR YOUR FIRST MARATHON
- NUTRITION WHILE TRAINING FOR YOUR FIRST MARATHON
- RUNNING SHOES AND GEAR FOR YOUR FIRST MARATHON
- MENTAL TRAINING FOR YOUR FIRST MARATHON
- RACE DAY TIPS FOR YOUR FIRST MARATHON
- RECOVERING FROM YOUR FIRST MARATHON