(Oh, and my legs continue to remind me about the miles I ran on Sunday. I'm not sure they're giving me positive reminders, though.)
|Pre-marathon -- AHHH!!!|
I exchanged a bunch of emails with Beth yesterday, and in the continuing post-marathon high, I dumped a ton of thoughts on her about the mental aspect. Not that I'm an expert by any means, but I've gone from feeling so shitty during races, mentally, to feeling really strong. These are the things I've done and what I did on Sunday. So, in no particular order:
- I let myself say it was hard but never that I couldn't do it. I told myself nothing but things like "you are killing it! You're doing SO well!" I didn't let a single negative thought creep into my head. If something negative started to appear, I'd read a sign and repeat it to myself. (NOT the "worst parade ever" ones -- can we retire that sign please?? -- but things like "someday you won't be able to run 26.2 miles ... today is not that day!")
- I planned for the rest of the race thinking I'd do well, not that I'd fall apart. Think about what you'll do if that happens before the race, and have a plan, but don't let those thoughts get to you during the race.
- I thought about all the tough training runs I'd had: up the Hollywood Hills in 85 degree heat, hilly trails at 5,000 ft elevation, running tempo runs on tired and tight legs. The last part of the marathon was so hard -- reminding myself of how I'd powered through discomfort time and time again in my training helped a lot.
- More importantly, I kept thinking about the two best long runs I had. First, the 10 miles I ran at all under-10:00 miles, after running 10 miles already that day. Then, the 20 miler that I did completely alone, slowly to protect my hamstring, but was still able to speed up in the last two miles. Especially as I sped up after the first ten miles, I thought of that broken-up 20 miler, and how I finished with those sub-10:00 miles at 4,500 ft elevation.
|yes, I'm a race photographer ham.|
- Saving music for the last ten miles really helped. I had a list of songs that amp me up, and I didn't listen to them while training for about 2-3 weeks prior to the marathon. I wanted to save them so I'd have all of their boosting juice to power me through miles 17-26! It really worked well, and I was so happy to hear music that makes me want to go fast.
- As for which songs to pick, I went with the ones that helped me get through tough tempo runs and mile repeats. I associated that music with the pain of pushing but also the incredible joy I'd feel at hitting paces I didn't think I could. Having those songs play in the toughest miles reminded me of kicking the ass of speed workouts, and helped me push hard.
These are the things that helped me through 26.2 miles. They may or may not work for you! However, I hope you'll think about how to prep your mind before your race day. Study after study shows that physical limits are far past what our brain tells us our limits are. Positive thinking can go a huge way to overcoming the mental hurdles our brain creates.
Also, here's my marathon playlist! A few are Chicago-specific, but I think there are some awesome amp-you-up tunes on there.
Tell me -- what are your mental techniques for race day?