One thing that I read quite a bit about, and put in to practise, was the mental training needed for marathon running.
26.2 miles is a long way…. and running for over 5 hours is a long time !
The marathon course in Brighton doubles back on itself a few times so if, like me, you are not one of the faster people you will have people passing you coming the other way and you KNOW they are miles in front of you !
This may sound slightly arrogant but from the moment I got to Preston Park for the start I didn’t ever doubt that I would finish the marathon.
This is the first important point – You have to believe in yourself that you can do this. If you start out thinking that you are not sure then, as soon as it starts to get tough or hurt (and it will hurt) you will lose all faith in your ability to complete the marathon.
When you first enter a marathon you may not be sure that you can do it… but you have entered, so something inside you obviously thinks that you can 🙂 What you need to do is to develop positive self talk, look in the mirror every morning and say out loud “I am a marathon runner” this may seem totally out of place to start with but over the weeks and months you will begin to believe it….
This brings me on to the second point – Realistic expectations. I had never run a marathon before, I didn’t know how I would feel, how I would cope with the fatigue or how I would cope with the pain. My goal was to complete the marathon, if I managed it under 5 hours that would have been a bonus. My other goal was to enjoy the race. After all, I was spending 4 months training for this day, running in all weathers, quite often on my own….. for me this was going to be a 26.2 mile lap of honour. This was the public recognition of the months of training and boy was I going to enjoy it ! I wasn’t aiming to beat anyone, or the clock, I just wanted to go out and have fun 🙂
If you set time goals then you set yourself up for possible failure BUT it does depend on your mental attitude as to how you deal with it. Last November I had been aiming for a sub 2 hr half marathon. It didn’t happen, afterwards you always think of the bits where “maybe” you could have gone faster but in general I just think that it wasn’t meant to happen that day…. and there is always another day….. If I enjoy the run then it is a success 🙂
During the marathon when I saw the people in front coming back the other way I didn’t think “I’m so slow, they are miles in front….” I thought “Wow, look at them go, aren’t they great !”
I also thought about all the spectators standing there for hours on end… I’m sure they were colder than I was and no-one gave them a medal… so the least I could do was smile and wave back when they cheered me on and shouted my name.
I met some lovely people on the way and chatted to them for a while….
The last few miles were difficult, but I knew I was going to finish this marathon and I could picture crossing the finish line in my head. In fact I have finished so many marathons in my head you would be amazed ! I had also split the run in to sections; a jog round the park to warm up, a run through the streets of Brighton, a run up past the marina to Ovingdean and back, a run through Hove, a run to the power station and then the final stretch back past the pier to the finish. I had pictured me running each of these sections over and over again…
I am a great believer in a positive mental attitude and that you make your own reality. I don’t know who first said it but “If you think you most probably can, or if you think you most probably can’t, you are most probably right”.