Train The Body AND The Mind
When it comes to the marathon, everyone trains physically, but few pay attention to training the mind. Come race day, the good news is that it’s half mental. The bad news is, so is the other half.
How do we train the mind? We train it with workouts that are specific to the physical and mental demands of race day. This means long runs and tempo runs, with a goal of running at an uncomfortable pace, requiring the mind to focus on the technical aspects that will keep you running fast and efficient in the latter miles of the race.
It is funny how many people think, “Wow, I feel great!” at the 10K mark of the marathon. Hopefully this isn’t a newsflash, but you’re supposed to feel great then! It’s when you reach miles 18-22 when things will begin to get very hard. Your ability to negotiate with your body to keep the pace fast and intensity high, all while maintaining relaxation and form, is a critical skill in those extremely challenging last miles of the race. Quite simply, if you don’t train these skills mentally, you can’t expect to call on them come race day. They must be trained and perfected as much as physical fitness.
Tempo runs and long runs where you finish pushing the pace are some of the key workouts to truly preparing yourself to be able to meet the mental as well as physical demands of the marathon.
Tempo runs are faster-paced runs which work to improve an athlete’s lactate threshold. These runs are conducted over the course of an hour or two, training the body to sustain speed over time. These runs are not comfortable, but are not deathly hard either.
If you add these runs to your training, you will see the results not only physically, but mentally as well. They will teach you how to negotiate with your body to deal with discomfort, while sustaining the speed.