No matter how well you train your legs and your heart to run 26.2 miles, you can literally prevent yourself from having a good race if you haven’t prepared your mind to handle the stress. Moments when you will question your abilities, resilience and desire to keep moving forward are inevitable. In fact, it is quite possible that the greatest strength you can bring with you on marathon day is your positive self-talk. We are often persuaded by negative thoughts (or “doubt demons” as I sometimes call them) when the going gets tough. Learning tactics to help you believe in and cultivate the voice that says “I CAN” will make all the difference for you on race day.
One of the most effective tools for building your mental muscle is rooted in the development of mantras that remind us of our strength and encourage habits of positive thinking. Our internal dialogue is very powerful, and with positive and often simple choices we can combat the negative voices in our heads. We will believe what we tell ourselves!
Mantras are personal to each runner. Sometimes they are inspirational words rich with motivation, sometimes they are funny and sometimes they are just a distraction. They can be something you make up on your own, a quote from your favorite poem or a line from your favorite song. Find a few words and sentences that work for you, and draw upon them if you start to doubt your abilities on race day or for any challenging run. Above all else, remember why you started this journey, trust that the doubts and the pain are a part of the process and you will persevere!
Some examples of mantras that can be useful:
“I think I can. I know I can!”
“Breathe and believe.”
“Never ever, ever give up.”
“The only way out is through.”
“Make yourself proud.”
“I am healthy, I am strong.”
“Be here, be now.”
“This too shall pass.”
“I have put in the work. This is my victory lap!”