The physical training which goes into your preparations for a marathon are of course of paramount importance. You must build up your body to be able to handle an intensely rigorous and prolonged experience. Still, equally important to your physical fitness, your cardio and your conditioning, will be your mental strength, your inner fortitude, and your overall psychological preparedness. Psyching yourself up for running a marathon will be essential for your success.
Let’s be realistic and say that you can be the strongest willed person of all-time, but if you’re not physically fit, you will be unable to complete the task of running a marathon. You must prepare your body through a gradual increase in endurance capabilities, and overall cardiovascular and muscular strength.
You have to be patient, and plan plenty of rest in order to fully achieve your physical fitness goals, you have to increase specific athletic markers such as your VO2 max and lactate threshold. Tapering off your physical training prior to the marathon is also crucial, as your body must be at its absolute peak, ready to expend every last drop of energy.
With all of that said, what many people do not realize is that at the very same time, it’s realistic to say that you can be the most physically fit person in the world, but if you’re mentally weak or totally unprepared psychologically or emotionally, you still probably will not complete a marathon. You cannot overlook this portion of your preparations.
One fantastic tool in your arsenal for mental training will be visualization. This is a technique utilized even, and especially, by athletes at the absolute highest level of sport. When you visualize yourself completing a difficult challenge or excelling at something, it has been proven that you will raise your actual performance.
For marathon visualizations, picture yourself running each mile, and passing those mile markers. Envision your friends and family members cheering you on from the crowd, and see yourself passing the finish line in exultation.
You may even want to drive through the course, to familiarize yourself with physical landmarks. Add these to your visualizations for added realness. In this way you can know that, for example, when you’re over the hill with the tall red building, you’re all but finished, and can cruise safely from there on out.
Goal-setting is also very important to psych yourself up. You can use short-term or process goals whilst training to keep you physically on track. Make sure you cross off to-dos with your training, reaching certain fitness levels, completing a certain number of training sessions, extending your personal best times or distances, and so forth.
But don’t forget about long-term outcome goals either. These are what really serve to mentally fortify yourself. Outcome goals will help you stay on track on the actual day of the event. You could build in certain break times and distances for yourself, for example, or set a time standard to help keep you buzzing along.
Remaining mentally aware of your physical body is also essential. Be attuned to what you’re going through, and you’ll be able to adjust yourself and increase performance or avoid injury.
When you’re training for your first marathon, you’ll certainly be working hard to be your physical best. The true key to success though will be a balance of both physical and mental strength. When you properly psych yourself up to run a marathon, your mental strength will even serve to make you physically stronger, and vice-versa, working in tandem to guide you to the finish line.