How to prepare yourself mentally for long runs

As you know by now, I’ve signed up for the Brighton Marathon this year. 5 weeks today in fact. 35 days. Eeeek! Enter self doubt and negative thoughts “What was I thinking?”.

For the last few weeks, my long runs have been on a Sunday afternoon. Kids are chilling out, dinner in the oven. Cue a bit of time for me to run. I’ve been trying to run at least 20k on a Sunday, and today was the longest yet. A casual half marathon just for fun (yep right).

Today’s run was VERY windy!!!!

This has given me a LOT of time to think. A lot of time to contemplate the enormous task which lies ahead (in the not too distant future), and a lot of time to doubt my ability to make the distance. Today, I was lucky enough to have the company of my wonderful running buddy to help me overcome the doubt and keep me running when I feel like giving up and calling an Uber to take me home.

This time last year, I was gearing up for my first half marathon. I had the same thoughts as I’m having now, but managed to make 20k before the run which gave me the confidence to turn up on the day. This time, it’s unlikely I’m going to make the full 42.2 kms, so on my run today I was contemplating how exactly my head is going to wrap itself around such a mammoth undertaking. Here’s what I came up with:

  1. Set yourself milestones for the run. By giving myself four or five key checkpoints, I can break down the run in my head which makes the distance seem achievable. Cue me and my running buddy scouring the marathon route for said milestones.
  2. Set yourself a distance for the run, and check the route distance before you go out. There’s nothing more disheartening than getting home with another 0.5km to run (my head at that point is done and my legs refuse to move any further).
  3. Take some gels/jelly beans/water – it’s not just for an energy boost but for me it also gives me a mental boost when I have a sip of water or a jelly bean.
  4. Power up the hills. I mean nobody likes hills (it’s quite hilly where I live and run) but put your energy into powering up the hill. See it as a way to get those kms down faster. Similarly, speed up on the way back down the hills (if your knees will allow)!
  5. Practice positive affirmation. Take time to visualise your run, to tell yourself that you can do it, that you are good enough.
  6. Make sure you get your miles in. Proper training will prepare you for the run ahead and give you confidence for the challenge.
  7. Last but not least. Run with someone who builds you up. Find your running crew and take them with you along the way (even if they’re not crazy enough to actually sign up for a marathon.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on how you prepare yourselves for a marathon. Please do comment, or add to the conversation on Insta @mumsinreallife.

Happy Sunday lovely people.

Tahlia x

2 thoughts on “How to prepare yourself mentally for long runs”

  1. Happy to save you nearly 4kms – the marathon is ‘only’ 42.2km.
    All techniques are worth trying but, unfortunately, your No6 is the one that works best of all.
    My son ran Brighton in 2017 and it was a really good event – he was sufficiently encouraged that we are running Rotterdam together next month.
    Best of luck to you.

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