How to Train Your Mind for a Marathon

TORONTO July 16th. Often asked “Where do you find the time?” Digital Champion Mike Shanks realizes you make time for what is important. As a husband, father of 2, and an active member of his Cambridge community, Mike always finds time to train. His running journey started in 2008 with a 5km run and now Mike is not only running marathons but also training towards long distance triathlons. Connect with Mike on Twitter @mikepgww and on his blog.

How to Train Your Mind for a Marathon. By Mike Shanks.

The physical act of running a marathon is impressive and nothing can diminish this. You put in the hours and hours of physical training to get your body ready to pull you through 42.2 kilometres. The next question is, have you trained your mind?

The end of a marathon can beat down your mind as much as it does your body, so you have to make sure that you have trained both! Having been through two very disappointing marathon finishes myself, I know the voices of self doubt all too well. The voices of self-doubt may tell you to stop long before the race is over, but you can overcome them and make your way to the finish line, happy and strong, with the proper training!

Here are a few tricks that you can roll into your training to help prepare your mind for the last 10km of the marathon:

Push To Start
Those early morning runs and the ones at the end of really long workdays can be tough to start. Commit to your training and add it into your calendar, like any other appointment, so that you cannot cancel it. Sometimes, the toughest steps are the first ones. As you complete your training runs, look back and remember all those times you didn’t feel like running because you were tired or your bed was too comfy and warm, and think: I did those runs so that I could do this one.

Push To Achieve
You have set a goal to run a marathon and you have committed to a training program. When you are doing hill repeats for the 6th time or making your way around the track for your 8th 800m Yasso, only you know if you are really pushing yourself. If you let up now, you’re telling your brain that it’s ok to give up during your race! Dig deep in your training and run past it!

Push To Rest
Just as your body needs rest, so does your mind. Try activities like yoga and meditation to calm your mind and relax your body. This will pay off in taper week when you’re looking to do something that’s not running! You also want to make sure you get lots of sleep throughout your training, and especially in the week leading up to the race. The night before the marathon, you may be anxious so make sure you’re well rested before October 19th!

Push to Eat
Your body is a big chemistry lab. Eating properly during training can really impact your mental state. If you under-eat or don’t eat right, your mind won’t function the way it should. This isn’t about going on a “diet”, it’s about eating better to improve your physical and mental performance. This doesn’t mean you can’t have a treat every once in a while, just do it in moderation. I know many people who will be dreaming of a big cheeseburger and a tall, frothy beer as they tackle the last few kilometres of their marathon!

Push to Finish
In our training, we all have good running days and bad running days. On those bad days, it is more important than ever to push past the negativity. We have to practice things in training that we want to happen in the race. Just as you shouldn’t try new clothes or new food on race day, you shouldn’t go in with a mindset that you’re not used to. If you are having a bad training run, push past it. If you are at 26km of a 34km run and you want to stop, know that you are training for what may happen in a race. Keep going, stay true to your training, and finish the distance.

On October 20th, as you approach the overpass on the DVP, just after the 38km mark of the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, you will be glad that your mind is trained to push past the negativity that will be telling you to stop. All your training, both mental and physical means you will achieve your goals, become a marathoner, and pick up the medal to prove it!

How have you been training your mind for the big day? Share your tips and tricks with us below!

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2 Responses to How to Train Your Mind for a Marathon

  1. Myron says:

    I’m already picturing the cheesburger and the tall cold Guinness at the end! Great tips, thanks Mike!

    • Mike Shanks says:

      Thanks Myron. I will be having a large Pad Thai after, and maybe a cider or three!

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