Mental preparation for a marathon

Written by: Eva Kova─Ź, Univ. graduate of Psychology, September 19, 2014

Fall is here and with it the peak of the running season. Time when many runners start preparing for different marathon trials more intensively. Most runners focus all their attention to physical preparation but hardly anyone also tries to prepare mentally.

Saying goes, that running is 90% mental. Perhaps a slightly exaggerated statement, because physical fitness is a must for successfully completing a long run but we definitely can't ignore the profound impact of mental preparation during a marathon.

So how do we mentally prepare for a marathon?

There are several techniques useful in a certain preparation phase. First, it's important to take care of motivation, which gives us strength for a successfully completed marathon. It's important not only for coping with the strain during a marathon but also for overcoming pain and completing the goal. If you want to achieve your goal you have to be extremely motivated so you don't quit due to unpleasant feelings.

Goal setting technique is the easiest for maintaining motivation. Set short-term goals and define your training plan. For the marathon itself you'll have to set gradual goals, besides the main goal - to run a marathon. Divide the period to shorter stages because this way every achieved stage will make you more motivated and self-confident on your way to the main goal.

The importance of relaxation

Marathon preparations can be stressful on the body so don't forget about body relaxation. You can relax with different relaxation techniques, such as breathing exercises, deep relaxation, autogenic training or progressive muscle relaxation. A warm bath and quality sleep will also help you relax and recover.

Mental preparation

When the marathon day starts to approach begin with gradual mental preparation. You will probably have problems with fatigue, pain, boredom, and thoughts as "why did I do this to myself" during the trial. Fatigue and pain is the easiest to overcome with a dissociation technique where you try to divert attention from physical feelings outwards by counting cars, searching for all the red objects in the surroundings, or imagining being as light as a seagull hovering above the sea. It is essential not to focus on the feelings of pain, because they will only get stronger. Try to control negative thoughts and encourage yourself as much as possible.

You can also successfully prepare for a marathon with the help of our app. Keeping track of your trainings and at the same time having access to psychological exercises is a key advantage. Use it to succeed.