I always get a bit jealous at this time of year as I really want to be part of the London Marathon crew. Yes, I am well aware that there are other incredible marathons out there, but there’s nothing quite like running through London. Although I had a bad experience, I took part in the London Marathon last year – making it my second. Since then, I’ve completed a third marathon and I have my fourth next month. So, I thought I’d share my tips on “The Marathon Mindset”.
Believe you can
It may sound obvious, but I honestly think that if you believe you can do it, you will. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Yes, you need to be physically prepared for a marathon – it’s a huge challenge. But the mental part is also important and if you believe it, it will happen. And this applies to any distance. “I know I can and I will”.
Keep focussed on what you’re doing. If you’re anything like me, you’ll love the first half and get grumpy toward the end. For me personally, it’s miles 20-24 that I find tough and need to dig deep for. I know the end is close, yet I’m still on my feet for over another hour. It can sometimes feel demotivating. So keep focussed on what you’re doing and find something to focus on. It may be as simple as making it to the next mile and then when you get there, making it to the next one. You might pick out someone ahead in a pink t-shirt and try to keep them in sight. Maybe you’ll plug into some music and just try to keep moving. Whatever it is, find something and keep going.
Break it down
No getting away from it, 26.2 miles is a long way. There’s a reason most people don’t ever do a marathon and that is it! You are prepared for this and you CAN do it, but if you’re feeling intimidated on the day (or even during a long training run) think about breaking it down a bit. When I ran Brighton in 2011, that’s exactly what I did. I broke it down to a half marathon and then smaller segments. I ran the first half. Then I told myself it was just a 2 mile run next. So I ran it. And I adopted this for most of the rest. Yes, I did have a few walk breaks, but on the whole this strategy worked. When I got to 23 miles, I told myself it was just 5k. And I’m proud to say that I ran the whole last 5k and even managed to overtake a few people on the way!
Don’t give in to negativity
We’re all human and many of us will hit a dark place somewhere during a marathon. In London last year, I found myself collapsed crying at the side of the road at one point. But I didn’t want to leave the course without my bling, I picked myself up and I went on my way. The negative thoughts crept into my mind, I’m not going to lie. I ignored them. They’ll destroy you if you let it. It’s a marathon. You’re in charge.
Draw on the kindness of strangers
Maybe you don’t like crowds or would rather be left alone during a long run or a marathon and that’s fine, it’s personal preference. There’s no right or wrong ways. But for me, drawing on the crowd support and kindness of people last year during the London Marathon got me round. They look out for you. You look out for them. A smile, a thumbs up, a chat with someone on the way can make all the difference!
Can you picture yourself crossing the line? Go on, I dare you. Fabulous image, right? Keep it in mind. What’s getting you there? Now go do it!
These mind games aren’t for everyone. But they work for me! Good luck!