The Marathon Thought Process

Marathon RunnersBegin with the holistic entity bridging physical transformation upon the mentality of the heart. Running a marathon demands a commitment to the body, however, the heart and mind are strong elements of this mission. Preparation for a long run or marathon is not just a physical journey, it is crucial to prepare the heart and mind for the unyielding struggle of miles. Just as one would prepare the body, it’s equally if not more important to condition your mind for the inevitable mental challenges.  Failure to prepare our heart and mind will result in physical defeat.

Most marathon running tips are expressing the physical training. The physical training is very important, however many training plans don’t address the importance of the inward mind process. This agenda of marathon training will focus on the importance of the inward heart to mind conditioning process.

What are we saying to ourselves?

Self-talk (check in with yourself) refers to the “voice” in your head. Programming your mind is a useful mental strategy to apply to long distance running. Just as one types into a computer keyboard concluding the result on the screen, one must key in their voice to the heart screen, the keys here are labeled self-talk. The most powerful change agent is the words we speak to ourselves. Many studies have shown that the majority of competitive marathon runner’s use self-talk during marathons. Be transformed through the correct self-talk stimulating the programming that is responsible to renewing the mind. Thoughts and words focusing on strength, the body is strong, the body is spiritual, the body will finish strong. Or you might just be repeating “keep running, don’t stop I am one step closer every stride I make. I will not quit!

It’s our inner voice that determines how we approach something. What we are saying to ourselves at any moment will determine how we feel about race day. Our words have power and are the key to life. If your critical inner voice starts telling you that you are no good, you aren’t going to make it, it will be the doom effect. Your language dictates that internal living direction you play in your head:  So it’s very important to direct our language towards how we need to exist. Talk about confidence, relaxed talk about enjoying the strength in your heart. Use your voice in a positive way. As humans, we’re very good at talking negatively to ourselves. Positive self-talk produces the inward transformation resulting in positive transition of the body and mind structure.

During a marathon, using self-talk to concentrate on your physical state is important. The analyzation of monitoring the body and adjusting pace accordingly, while using a thought distraction to direct attention away from pain is an example of good thought management. For example, concentrate on the stride while breathing deeply repeating “I feel stronger after every intake of the oxygen-fuel entering deep into my lungs. The oxygen transforms into the rich fuel reviving my muscles, I feel great!”

Running in the spirit is a powerful internal foundation that is based on the inward thought process. The vibrational energy from foot strike and stride pattern along with the swing motion of the extremities brings together the well-orchestrated unity of the body. Securing the environmental fuel through the pureness of the intake of universal air mixed with fueling oxygen to revive the muscles adding to inner and outer strength.

These strategies can help bring a meditative practice to your movement, with better results for body, mind, and soul. By running in balance with your breath, concentrating on your stride, you can enjoy the pureness of mindful running.

“In long-distance events, the importance of your mental state in determining the outcome of a race can’t be overestimated.”(Paula Radcliffe)

The power of visualization:

There is a true story about a golfer who was in prison for 20 plus years. Every single day this golfer would take time out in his cell to think visually about his golf swing. He would think it through critically every movement to the last action of hitting the ball. Then in his mind watching the ball end up where he would want it to lie. The day came when this golfer was released from prison and one of the first things he did was to seek out his friends to play golf. He lined up at the tee for his first stroke after being in prison for 20 plus years. His friends curiously watched while he swung the club resulting in a hole in one. The gentlemen were amazed and asked how did you accomplish this with 20 years of not playing the game? He answered: Ahh that is where you are mistaken, I have been playing and have practiced my swing every single day that I was away. The power of visualization has secured the perfect swing for this golfer.

So how do we incorporate visualization?

Imagining yourself crossing the finish line is the first strategy. Next is to be able to imagine performing the things that get you to the finish line. When we imagine being able to do something we are mentally rehearsing it. It actually communicates to the body the actions to be produced, it sets the mission. Neurologically when vision and imagination are used we are engaging the same neurons in our brain that are in action when experiencing the motion. This can be defined as the programming of the mind to produce the needed response physically.

Think about the performance, and for each individual running a marathon the performance comes in their own chosen menu. It could be a PR, or just completing the course. Either way, the premier method to get to that goal is to think about or visualize the future movement. Focus on the process, the journey to be completed in a systematic methodical image. Some examples are to focus on your rhythm, your movement, your breathing, and the planned goal to win.
So there you have it folks, running a marathon is just mental business mixed in with some good training. Everyone will sink into their own custom fit mind frame. The important step is to start talking to yourself in a positive pattern, train the inward heart transforming to a strong foundation that will lead to success.

Happy Running!

John Carlson
Coach RRCW

5 Comments on The Marathon Thought Process

  1. I used some of those techniques on Sunday. Kept telling myself that I felt good. Thought about my stride and form. I had a great race.

  2. Tough stuff, marathon runs. Be careful, and train wisely. Speed work wins any race, anymore including marathons. Best wishes to anyone who try, but if the objective is to win, you need the kick at the end.

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