Mental Edge for Marathon Success

Mental Edge for Marathon Success

Sharpening your mental game is as important as the running your doing in preparation for race day. Heartbreaker coaches Jonny Phillips and Amy Tortorello led the team through a session in 2019 on the topic and below are the highlights that came out of it. First, if you like to read, check out these two books: Let Your Mind Run by Deena Kastor and Endure by Alex Hutchinson. These two books were foundational to the discussion.

- Jonny talked a lot about the benefits of mindfulness and positivity. He only meditates ~twice a week but notes its benefits this way: it helps you understand and deal with your emotions. You'll still have them but you'll be better able to see where they come from and choose how you want to react to them. We can't choose our emotions but we can choose how we wish to react to them if we practice. This is helpful because being wholly present in a race situation is key to unlocking the performance you want. Rebecca Pacheca is our team's meditation expert. Her second book with HarperCollins called Still Life: The Myths and Magic of Mindful Living is available here

- Excellence vs success: Deena Kastor's coach talks about this principle. We all know what success is: a positive outcome. Excellence has more to do with executing the process correctly. Do what you need to do every day. Focus on excellence. For Jonny, when he began to focus more on excellence over success, he had his biggest breakthroughs. He began thinking about racing outcomes and measures of success in terms of spiritual/emotional growth & challenge rather than time or place. Greater success followed once it wasn't the focus. 

- Visualization - Now is a great time (around 6 weeks out) to do a long, immersive race day visualization. You've experienced most of the physicality of the race day by now. Think about them in context. Sit quietly or lay down (Jonny likes to lay down with a towel over his eyes for ~30min) and think through these things: What will it be like when you board the the bus or travel to the start? Wait in line for the port-o-potty? Walk to the start? Wait in your corral? Hear the starting gun? Feel tired at mile 8? When it hurts at 13 how will you deal with it? How will your first Maurten gel taste? Your second? Your third? Your fourth? Your fifth? Water stops are every mile. What's your plan? Think through what the race will feel like on your knees, your feet, and in your heart. Mental preparation is as important as the physical preparation. Take the time to go through a few scenarios in some longer thought exercises. Cut these off by race week as they are too mentally taxing but get it in now.

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