Mental Health Tips for Marathon Runners

Physical fitness is, of course, a huge part of the equation for any marathon runner. What many outsiders don’t realize, though, is the mental preparation required for this kind of feat. A marathon is easily as intense for a runner’s mind as it is for his body, and preparing well in advance of the marathon can be complex. These tips may help.

  • From the outset, go slow. You’re always going to feel your strongest when you get started, but when you run more slowly during that first half, you’ll have the added mental energy necessary to hit it during the second half.
  • Focus on yourself. It’s easy to get tied up in those people passing you, but only you know what you can (and should) be doing right now. In some cases, they may be starting out too quickly, so you’ll catch them later.
  • Keep your emotions in check. You might want to be celebrating during those first ten miles, but that extra energy it takes to high-five your brother is going to be a waste, particularly when you need it during the last few miles. Stay calm and focused throughout the race.
  • Tiny bites are better. If you think about the race in smaller pieces, you’re going to have a far better time. For example, when you hit mile 17, remind yourself that there’s only a 5K ahead, then you’re done.
  • Have faith in your abilities. Mile after mile, you’re going to be pushing your mental ability. You’re going to have plenty of self-doubt. Don’t give in. You’ve trained for this. Have a little faith, and you’ll be rewarded in the end.
  • Don’t get bored. One of the biggest problems for many runners is boredom, but you can fight it. Sing a song, count the runners wearing pink tank tops, or come up with another mental game to stay busy.
  • Let your mind reign. As pain sets in, let your mind go. Focus on the things around you, not your body itself.
  • Give yourself some encouragement. Keep in mind how hard you’ve been working, then tell yourself the encouraging words you need to hear to get through to the end.

Marathons never come easy, even for experienced runners. Tips like these, though, can help you stay motivated.

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