Mental Toughness | How To Get Through Long Mileage Runs
Written by Jeanne Corey Marchand. Jeanne is a 2019 Biofreeze San Francisco Marathon Ambassador and this 2019 Biofreeze San Francisco Marathon will be her 5th consecutive year running! You can read more from her on Instagram at @jeannecorey64
Running a marathon takes a good solid training plan, dedication, commitment, and most importantly, ‘Mental Toughness’.
There are ways that I’ve learned to distract my mind from the pain of those last miles in a marathon and bring my mind somewhere else. I’ve run 60 marathons and I wanted to share some tricks that work for me. This isn’t something that I learned overnight, but from the experience of many races. When I first started running I used to call those negative thoughts ‘the demons’ and found if I allowed my mind to get carried away with the negative thoughts, I was doomed. When I find myself slipping and allowing the “I can’t” or “I’ll never finish” thought in, I have to pull some of these tricks out:
- Dedicate each mile: I dedicate a mile to someone and make sure I let that person know which mile is theirs. The night before the race or my long training runs, I make sure to call each of them and say “I’ve dedicated mile 21 to you” so please think of me at 9:30 am when I need your strength. During that specific mile I think of that person and think of 10 things about that person that makes me laugh, or 10 things that I love. Next thing you know, that mile is gone. It’s time for the next person.
- Mantras: Saying a mantras over and over to keep your legs going also helps. Things like “Never give up”, “you are strong”, and “you are a machine” are only a few. NEVER allow any negative thoughts to come into your head and pull you down. Always believe in yourself. The marathons where I hit the wall is when I allowed those negative thoughts into my head. When they start, sometimes I’ll yell out loud “STOP”! Sure, I may get a few strange looks, but I keep going and that’s all that counts!
- Sing the Ant song: Yes, for those of you who know me and have run with me you may have heard me sing this, if you have not, here is a great tip. If you sing “The Ant’s go marching” times through it’s a mile. (You need to include the boom, boom, booms) This song has saved my butt more times than I can count! (PS-google the song if you’ve never heard of it). Trust me, it works!
- Count Steps: I also count steps. I look ahead and pick something out in the distance. Then I count how many steps it takes for me to get there. The last time I ran the San Francisco I counted steps to get me up the hills! My husband noticed I would start to take off and he yelled to me, “Hey – are you counting steps?” because when I do, I tend to speed up and forget I’m running. Yes, I did say “forget I’m running” because if you can tap into that sweet spot in your brain that can separate pain and focus on something else, it will make all the difference in the world. As you build your miles in training, I want you to try some of these techniques! I’ve read running a marathon is 90% mental and the rest is physical. I’m a true believer!
- Lastly, enjoy the marathon: Take in the scenes, read all the signs, high-five every kid and smile for the cameras! Make sure you write your name on your bib so if you do start to slow down you’ll have plenty of people cheering for you by your name! And just remember that it’s not about your finish time, it’s about finishing and finishing STRONG!