Mental Training for a Marathon Part 2

In part one of this training blog, I discussed the importance of the mind when training for and participating in a marathon. The main point being that no matter how strong or physically gifted an athlete might be, it’s important to have a positive frame of mind and be mentally prepared to enhance and be successful at their running event.

The following are specific mental strategies that runners can implement to aid in an enjoyable and quality run:

  1. Prior to  your event, if you feel you need distractions, plan out positive daydreams or things you want to think about to help divert your attention.
  2. Divide the race into segments (i.e. mile markers, water stops, etc.) and use completion of each segment as a success.
  3. A week  before the race, think of several reassuring thoughts or positive cue words to use during your event when you need them. Here are some examples:
    • I can do       this, this is my opportunity
    • Full       effort is full victory
    • I am       meant to be here
    • I am       tough/strong
    • Run       strong
    • Run tall
    • Race       discomfort is temporary
    • I’ll run my race and focus on the process of my runnin
  4. Visualize      the race in advance and how good you want to feel. Imagine being relaxed      with easy strides, light feet and efficient movements. Picture that image      over and over.
  5. Imagine      yourself maintaining a positive attitude if something unexpected happens. Plan      on being able to adjust if this situation should occur. Remember there are      no musts or shoulds. When things happen that we cannot control – weather,      competition, recurring injury, course terrain – focus on things you can      influence, like changing your stride, adjusting your pace, hitting your      mile splits and relaxing your arms.
  6. See your      run in a growth mindset. Focus on every experience, good or bad, as an      opportunity to learn, improve and continue to strive for your full      potential.
  7. A day      before, as well as just prior to your event, remind yourself of your dream      in attempting this run. Think about the training you have put forth in      your efforts to reach this goal. Focus positively on the training you      accomplished rather than the training you didn’t do.
  8. Embrace      race discomfort. Allow any discomfort – unless you are in pain – to remind      you that you are working with effort. Trust your body. Trust your training.
  9. Use other      runners and spectators as motivation and energy. They are there to support      you. You are part of a select group of people willing to physically and mentally      challenge themselves. Remember, you are out on the course making the      effort, pushing yourself, defying physical and mental barriers.


dr.-asp-webAbout Dr. Asp:

David R. Asp, Ed.D., is a Mayo Clinic Health System licensed psychologist. Dr. Asp is a counseling psychologist who has a specialization in sports performance enhancement. He has worked with elite runners, athletes and teams of various sports to provide skills for positive mental and emotional preparation. Dr. Asp has run 14 marathons, three Ironmans and 26 cross country ski marathons. He is an assistant coach for the high school cross country team and coach for the local high school Nordic Club.