In a few days, I'll be running the Boston Marathon as part of the Dana Farber Marathon Challenge. This will be my 5th Boston Marathon and 8th overall. With race day right around the corner, here are some helpful mental tips to keep you focused, confident, and in the zone on Marathon Monday...
You are trained to run the race from a physiological standpoint, but what about a psychological standpoint? Do you have doubts that you can finish the race? Do you have doubts that you can achieve a particular time?
Success on race day comes down to Preparation…
Failing to Prepare is Preparing to Fail – what does it mean to prepare both physically and mentally for the marathon?
Identify negative/overwhelming thoughts you have about the race – these thoughts will restrict you mentally and negatively impact your running
Avoid thinking of the marathon in its totality (26.2 miles can seem overwhelming, especially if you start out a little rocky) – break it down into more manageable segments (Five 5-mile runs and 1 bonus mile)
Finish your taper strong – no need for any extra training at this point – it will have no effect on performance, could actually hurt it
A few mental skills to practice over the next couple of days
Visualize your performance – picture yourself running in a strong/powerful manner at all points along the course (start/middle/finish)
Create some positive trigger words – but make sure they are realistic and you believe them
Develop a few routines/rituals to help you control as much of the race and your performance as possible…what do you like to eat the night before a long run? do you like to shower before the race? Eat before putting on your gear? Listen to certain songs? Stretch a certain way?
Stick to what’s familiar at this point – its one thing to get some advice on how to mentally prepare for the race, but don’t start changing your diet, running gear, etc
Race-Day Nerves – acknowledge them, accept them, embrace them, take advantage of them – it’s a sign you are ready to compete not a sign you are on the verge of failing. Control your excitement when the gun goes off….adrenaline may cause you to run at a much faster pace than you can maintain…use a trigger phrase (slow&steady) to help control your running
To help curb the anxiety, make a list of some legitimate problems you may encounter on race day and come up with your solutions to these problems. There will always be something that pops up that we never saw coming, and in this case, view it as just another challenge within the challenge of the marathon. It’s one more hurdle you need to clear on your way to the finish line.
Race Day Goals: Performance/Process vs. Ego/Outcome….more control over the performance but may also have a time-goal in mind….even so, think about “HOW” to finish in your desired time, rather than focusing on the time itself….