The time for physical training is over. From this moment on your mental strength will be what carries you over the finishing line. Third Space’s Group Fitness Manager Caitlin McGowan reveals the psychological tricks that will ensure you eat up the miles.


First 10 Miles

Don’t get caught up in the stress, excitement, and chaos at the start of the race. Accept that it will be busy and people will be in your way. Recognise there is a temptation to start off too hard. When you start your marathon, you’ll feel strong and confident, but you must keep telling yourself to hold back. It takes a lot of patience and discipline, but it is key to running a smart and enjoyable race.

If you find yourself getting nervous before the race even starts, think back to all the great workouts you had during your training. Visualise that great tempo run you had where you floated effortlessly over the course, or think back to your last successful race and begin to conjure up those same feelings of accomplishment.

Miles 11-20

Break up the marathon. Don’t think about how many miles to the finish. Instead, start breaking up the race into smaller segments. It will make the distance feel more manageable.

Use positive self-talk. Develop at least one positive mantra to use to gain confidence and persevere through any rough patches during this time. Make sure all the words in your mantra are positive. For example, use “I am strong, I can do this” as opposed to “push through the pain, don’t give up”. The latter elicits negative connotations with the words “pain” and “give up”. Some other good suggestions are “I’m fit, I’m good, I’m fast.” or “I’m healthy, I’m happy, I’m light on my feet.”

Your mental toughness will really start to be tested during these miles. Don’t give into periods of self-doubt and discomfort. Remember all the training that you have done and have faith in it.

Miles 21-26.2

Chances are you’ll be feeling a pit of pain and discomfort by this point of the race. You will certainly feel tired. Try to think outside of your body. Let your mind take over and focus on the outside like spectators, signs, scenery, and the other runners.

Continue to break up the course, this time into smaller milestones, mile by mile. Start counting down the miles and minutes as you near the end of the race.

At this point in the race, you need to dig deep and be your own coach. Talk to yourself. Stay positive. Remind yourself what you’ve sacrificed to get to this point. Think about how you’ve worked through fatigue during your training runs and how you can do it again. And again.