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Mind over marathon

Keeping your mind positive through self-talk will help you through challenging times



Words: Pat Carroll

Running the Gold Coast Marathon is as much a mental challenge as it is a physical one. With four weeks to go, your focus is most likely on putting your body through its paces to prepare yourself, but how are you training your mind for the task ahead?

Adding the following mental tips to your training routine will help you lock in positive thoughts and stay in the zone on race morning so when you feel tested, your mind will let your body persevere:

Embrace positive self-talk. The saying, “whether you think you can or can’t, you’re right” rings true for your Gold Coast Marathon journey. Your inner voice will play a major role in your body’s performance so adopt a mantra to get you through. I used the word “relax” and said this to myself when I was going through difficult patches in a race and it made me come out the other side feeling in control.

Focus on the path ahead. During training runs, count down the kilometres remaining rather than the distance travelled. Split what’s left into mentally manageable portions, such as two lots of 2km runs and give yourself a mental pat on the back when you reach the first milestone. By focusing on bite sized goals, you’ll be better placed to finish the main course.

Keep in the moment. Focus your energy on being present in the moment, rather than how you started off your run or how you’re going to feel another 10km down the road. Think about each step, your breathing and maintaining your current pace and staying close to the next runner ahead. Place an imaginary rubber band between you and the runner in front and don’t let the gap widen.

On race day, don’t let your anxiousness get the better of you and arrive at the start line feeling like you’ve already run your race. Use your pre-race nerves to your advantage by harnessing the adrenaline boost to spur you on if the going gets tough.

Remember to soak up the atmosphere and use the electric energy from the crowd cheering you on to find strength you didn’t know you had. On your long training runs, there was no cheer squad when you were flagging, so harness this energy to spur you on!

Pat Carroll has helped hundreds of runners achieve their goals and is a four-time winner of the Gold Coast Marathon (1983, 1984, 1988 and 1997) and heads up the Pat Carroll Online and Onland Pacers group at the Gold Coast Marathon.

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