I am often asked: What did you think of during the race [Ironman Barcelona] to drive you on?
With the London Marathon just 2 and a half weeks away, I wanted to share with you 8 tips from podcast guest Margaret Schlachter and myself, to help you develop a positive marathon mindset!
Mindset Tip #1 Acknowledge and sit with negative space
No matter how fit, experienced or strong you are, there comes a point in a race when you enter a negative space. This is usually brought on by pain or your inner critic, such as “What do you think you’re doing?” or “Why do you think you can do this run?”
(If you want to find our how you can change your inner critic to be a positive powerhouse of encouragement, read this blog: 3 Steps To Improve Your Inner Voice)
I want you to know that this negative space will pass, it’s just a natural phase of training or racing. Similar to meditating, sit with the negative (but not for too long), acknowledge it, embrace it and let it float on by - you can even visualise yourself swiping it away!
Mindset Tip #2 Think of an even worse scenario
Sometimes this temporary negative mood can be a little harder to get out of, one trick is to create even more negative situations - think up the most ridiculous scenarios that would make you laugh or greatly appreciate your current situation.
For example, when I was running my marathon at the end of my Ironman and I saw other people running off to the finish line when I was on lap number 1 and 2, I thought “at least I’m going onto lap number 2 and I wasn’t disqualified”.
Or perhaps you’re out running and it starts raining and as Margaret says, instead of thinking: “this sucks, I still have 15 miles to go” think >> “At least I have a raincoat and will stay relatively dry, could be worse, I might not have a raincoat or lose a shoe in the mud etc.”
Mindset Tip #3 Red Light/Green Light
I really like this method of Margaret’s, I use something similar with my coaching clients.
This method allows us to recognise when we are changing moods, what that feels like and how we can change our mood to feel our best in a certain situation.
We want to visualise and write down the following moods;
Green Light: What’s the perfect [marathon] you could possibly race? Take a moment to really visualise what that would be like - what can you see, hear, feel and smell? What are you thinking?
Yellow Light: Think of the moment when you’re running your marathon and things start to become a little less fun - again what can you see, hear, feel and smell? What are you thinking?
Red Light: Now think of a time when you’re running and things are not going well - what can you see, hear, feel and smell? What are you thinking?
Once you’ve written down these 3 scenarios, you can recognise and identify what physical and mental reaction your body and mind has when you are entering and moving between these different moods while running your marathon.
So when they start to come up during your marathon, you can take time to change your mood from red to yellow or yellow to green.
Mindset Tip #4 Take in your surroundings
When you’re starting to feel low, look up from plodding along and take in the sights around you. Notice how beautiful, amazing and hilarious your surroundings are!
On the London Marathon you’re going to pass some spectacular buildings and structures and there are going to be people dressed up in hilarious costumes. You will be surrounded by an incredible crowd of runners and spectators too, so drink it all in and smile.
Mindset Tip #5 Take on the role of the observer
Another great method is to take on the role of the observer while you’re running. Think of yourself as a pigeon flying over and looking down at the scene or if you’re racing in the London Marathon, think of yourself as one of the spectators.
What do you look like from the outside? What are they thinking of you running?
The pigeon maybe thinking; “This person is crazy, ‘coo’! Why are they running in a sea of people, and why so far, ‘coo’! I could never run that far, flying is so much easier, ‘coo’!”
Or the spectator will be thinking, go go go! You’re doing so well! You’re so fit and strong, being able to run so far! I wish I got my place this year, you’re so lucky, keep going!
It’s a fun game to play, distracts your mind and it really helps to see yourself from another perspective.
Mindset Tip #6 Meditate
Running can be a form of meditating, it helps you to be in the present moment and to really notice how you’re feeling and what’s going on inside of your mind. As we touched upon Mindset Tip #1, just let your thoughts come into your mind, acknowledge them and then swipe them to the side or see them floating away. Sometimes I like to see my thoughts as fluffy white clouds against a calm blue sky and when they float in, I see them float away again, just as calmly.
Mindset Tip #7 Count to 100
A technique I find very helpful when things get tough and my energy is ebbing, is to count up to 100 with every right step - I borrowed this from Paula Radcliffe MBE (who holds the women’s marathon world record at 2:15:25, London, 2003!). Thinking how far you still have to go can be overwhelming and depressing, so it’s really important to have a couple of techniques that help you focus and concentrate on doing the best you can in the moment. I love counting to 100 - over and over again. It breaks down how far I have to go into tiny pieces, 100 steps is easily achievable and I can lie to myself - “You just have to do 50 more steps” and then when I get to 50: “Well done you did so well, you can totally do 50 more!” And off I run!
Mindset Tip #8 Don’t care what anyone else thinks
From interviewing hundreds of women on her podcast, Dirt In Your Skirt, Margaret has learnt that the number one common trait of a positive mindset is, not caring what anybody else or society thinks of you. This enables you to truly embrace your unique self and this is where success lies.
So if you want to run in a tiara as it makes you feel like a princess, go for it.
If you want to run in make up, go for it.
If you don’t want to run in make up, go for it.
If you want to run in a unicorn costume, go for it.
Don’t change your actions because you’re worried about what someone else might think. Align your actions with your true self, run in what’s comfortable and run in a way that works for you.