Are you a debut marathoner? Your success is mostly determined by two crucial factors, says Radhika Meganathan, to set you up for your first marathon
In a research conducted by Staffordshire University (UK) on 700 ultra-marathoners, study results revealed that mental strength accounted for 14% of their success rate. It’s a fairly huge percentage to depend on to get you through the last few miles. Fortunately, the mind can be trained just like the body. however, as the mind is not a muscle, you need to employ a different technique to help it understand and embrace a debut marathon running training.
PREPARING YOUR GOALS
If you are excited about running your first marathon, consider setting ‘SMART‘ goals:
• Specific – Rather attempting to win, aim to complete a 2 km run within 15 minutes by the end of this month.
• Measurable – Use apps and equipment like stopwatch or a GPS unit to measure your progress.
• Achievable – Instead of, say, a tough trail run, start with your local half marathon and take it from there. You don’t want to burn out too early.
• Realistic – Both sport and endurance need realistic time to develop and excel. Have sensible goals like improving your running time by minutes,
• Time – Set a proper time limit for your goals. ‘When I do this marathon, my running time must have improved by 10 minutes’ is a great time goal.
PREPARING YOUR MIND
As Ken Larscheid, owner of Running Lab quotes in Detroit Free Press, the race doesn’t really start until the last two miles, and that is when the mental strength comes into play. Here are some tips to get your mind revved for the race ahead:
1. Get your inner dialogue right: The voice inside our head determines our determination in holding on till the end. For a debut runner, this means being positive not just on race day, but throughout the training period.
2. Address your fears: Fear is good, because it cautions you in advance. If you are scared about anything, just air it out with your trainer. Talk to experienced marathoners and get their insider tips on what their most concerns were and how they tackled them.
3. Familiarise with The Wall: Most fear the wall or “bonking”, with good reason. Your training will give you the confidence and ability to face any bad patch, so just make sure you are pro-active in addressing all possible slip ups that can occur during a debut marathon run.
4. Have your own ritual: Try developing your own ‘mantra’, i.e., finding your unique way to block your mind against a negative mood – a special song, or use counting, just anything, really, to pull your focus away from bad thoughts.
5. Be in the present: You need to be in the present to train well, because only stress lives in the future and you want to avoid that. When you focus on the now. Winning is about performance, not destination, so train in the present, because that’s the only thing that is in your control.
Remember, if this is your first marathon, just finishing it from start to end is a worthy goal by itself. For now, concentrate on building your experience and endurance, and your speed and techniques will automatically improve over the course of time.