There are many of us pounding the pavements in preparation for the Virgin Money London Marathon this April. As the training miles increase, so too can the sense of trepidation about managing those long runs and the 26.2 miles on the day....
When a long training run feels horrendous, practise keeping in control in your head.
Make sure you aren't thinking of how far you have to go. Practice staying in that moment, look around you and take in the sights, sounds and smells. Think about the rhythm of your steps, your breathing. If you can see your shadow watch it and see how comfortable it looks! If you are fundraising think about some of the reasons you have for running for your chosen charity and how much it will benefit the users. Also make sure to start slow.
Sometimes it helps to break it up. For example, for a 15 mile run you might have a 5 mile warm up, where you find your pace and rhythm, get your breathing, feel in control and get your legs going. Stay relaxed and loose. Then you might have a 7 mile run where you keep the pace, keep the focus, stay in the moment and accept there will be hard bits within those 7 miles. There will also be easier periods when you can recover and times when you feel strong. During the hard bits, remember that no hill lasts forever and round the corner there will always be a less challenging section. Then you have 3 miles to push, it's now ok to start allowing yourself to think about the distance, but only to count it down. Think how close you are to completing the run, how it's about 30 minutes of your life (or equate to whatever your pace is) and how great you'll feel when you finish. Visualise yourself crossing the finish line on the Mall….
Horrendous runs can always be thought of as positive; hard, but you kept going and you finished. That makes a great training run as you are getting better at keeping going when you are tired and your limbs are heavy. All those miles are making your body lay down new circulatory systems (capilliarisation), which increases efficiency and stamina and will help you on the day.
The extra support, crowds and adrenaline present on the big day will make the marathon itself feel a third easier than your hardest training run, for sure.
It's a mind-set. You can do it and you'll be great. It's not easy, but it's very achievable and every tough mile you do now is banked somewhere in your body for April 24th- promise!!!