Mental preparation tips for running a marathon

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To mentally prepare for running a marathon does not necessarily include, or preclude going into a deep meditative state several hours before. But considering what your body is about to go through means some degree of mental preparation. This author and marathon-experiencer used a number of tips to mentally prepare for a marathon. They included dissecting the race into a series of more mentally (and therefore physically) manageable distances. After about thirteen miles, I started implementing this plan. I said to myself, I could do the next three miles handily. After all, what is three miles? A short distance, no doubt…. And so on and so on, I did this. It’s kind of like a form of mind over matter.

This way, the greatest computer that ever existed, one’s brain fools the body into believing that after a certain mileage point, that it is just running a series of small roads. A series of races that are connected, but not at the same time. The body becomes less physically stressed and more capable of running the distance through mind over matter and a very healthy rush of endorphens after each mileage barrier is handily crossed. Mind over matter is an incredible and very measureable phenomena. There’s plenty of documentation of people doing incredible feets of strength, from yogis to Joe and Jane Sixpack.

When I did my first marathon-way back in 1985, I saw mind over matter for the first time. As a novice runner, who hadn’t even properly trained for his first road race, I sprinted from the beginning…and never looked back. Remember, I had never even adequately trained for a marathon. Being so fresh and green, I kept running very fast, even being complimented by race officials on my breathing. Suddenly, I hit twenty miles, and something inside me stopped the running, saying you don’t have the proper training and experience to run the remaining six miles and 385 yards. I ended up walking six miles, still finishing the marathon in four hours…

But the mind over matter saw me run full-steam ahead, without enough of the practical training and experience, to do twenty miles almost at the rate and training of a far more experienced marathon runner. Imagine if I had continued to run the remaining six miles. My performance would have been just over three hours and twenty minutes. But something clicked inside, partially a more protective and rational instinct. But this is a small example of mind over matter.

Dissecting the race into smaller sections incredibly helps you to manage the whole race when your body is starting to get incredibly stressed from the rigors of your run. I also did a run so badly chafed that my legs were burned a bit and bleeding in the last three miles. Not seeing the injury as life threatening, my mind programmed my oxygen level to kick in a little better and to stabilize my body for the last three miles to complete the race.

With solid running experience, proper training and excellent mental preparation also comes excellent stellar self-confidence. Nothing in the world can mentally prepare you better for a marathon than going through your checklist of proper training and preparation for it. The list, whether mental or real, goes a long way towards having completed a successful marathon, and perhaps even a personal-best for you. But even the best prepared marathon runner can hit a snag during a race. If that is the case, it’s important to have the attitude of just wanting to cross that finish line. Unless your life is in jeopardy, marshalling all your physical and mental reserves not only paves the way for one to cross the line, but to do much better the next time. For completing a race, helps to invigorate the runner’s psyche, and bolsters the self-confidence towards running future marathons.

Mind over matter is so important, for through positive self-talk comes not only better sports performance, ie marathons, but everything you set your mind to you can achieve. Remember, we limit ourselves by negative thinking. Careful mental preparation, in conjunction with proper physical training and diet, goes a long way towards completing a marathon, either at a fantastic, stellar time..or at a time your psyche at the time deems reasonable.


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