In some ways, running is the easy part. It’s finding the motivation to get up and train multiple times a week that’s more challenging for people. Here are four tips for mentally training for race day:
1. Stay Motivated to Train
Watch inspirational movies or read running related books. While training for my first marathon, I started hearing runners rave about the Spirit of the Marathon documentary. I waited until I was a few weeks out from race day and was exhausted from running 50+ miles a week to see it. Watching it brought tears to my eyes (multiple times!) and reinvigorated me for the rest of my training cycle.
Announce your goals to friends and family. It may be scary to tell people you’re training for a half or full marathon, but once you announce it to the world, you’re holding yourself accountable for that goal. Added bonus: you may be able to enlist a friend to train with you!
While the technique of visualization can be extremely sophisticated, it doesn’t have to be. I find I can lower my race anxiety by spending time before bed each night visualizing the race and, particularly, what could go wrong during it. Whatever your biggest race day fears are, you should imagine them happening, picture exactly how you will overcome them, and then see yourself crossing the finish line at your goal time no matter what. No race is going to be perfect, and the more time you spend “practicing” in your mind how you will overcome the challenges the easier they’ll be to face.
4. Treat Training Runs as Practice Races
In the end, you can train your muscles as much as possible, but they won’t perform at their peak abilities if you neglect to mentally prepare. Believe in yourself, trust your training, and your visualizations will become a reality!
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