If you’ve ever trained for a marathon, you know about the months of hard work, blood and sweat that go into prepping for a race. You spend a whole lot of your time and training thinking about things like your form and technique, improving your time, increasing your mileage, eating right and sleeping more.
Come race day, though, it’s time to put aside the checklist and – to borrow a phrase from the great sports apparel mogul – Just Do It. The day of your marathon is not the day to be worried about strong push-offs or reducing your bounce. In fact, many coaches and experts will strongly advise against thinking about anything related to your running. But, we also know that 26.2 miles is a long time to be on your feet. Somewhere between mile 5 and 20, you may find yourself bored, tired and even unengaged.
In honor of the New York Marathon that’s coming up this weekend, here are 5 things you can think of to pass the time and keep your mind, body, hydration, nutrition and attitude in check while running the big 26.
1. Play The ABC Game
This is a trick we learned from one of the coaches we work closely with. When you find yourself feeling bored or fatigued, go through your ABC’s and for each letter, think of an adjective that starts with that letter. For example, “A” for amazing, “B” for bold, “C” for calm, etc.
When you’re feeling tired, you’ll naturally be inclined to think of generally negative words, but make sure to take the extra time and effort to think of positive words. Not only does this make the game more challenging and helps to pass the time, it becomes a great way to give yourself a boost of positive energy while you’re trudging along on your marathon.
2. Simple Mental Math
Instead of peeking down at your watch to see how many hours or miles you have left in the marathon, challenge yourself with a little bit of mental math.
If you’re at mile 12 and x hours and x minutes have passed, what’s your current pace? If you can keep this pace up for the remainder of the 14 miles, how much longer is left on the clock before you’re at the finish line?
This is a great nutrition and hydration check. If you’re struggling with these simple calculations and your mind is feeling fuzzy, it’s a strong indicator that you’re in need of an energy boost or some water to hydrate. Do this every couple of miles to make sure that you’re providing your body with all of the energy it needs to keep going.
3. Look Around and Appreciate the Spectators
When we’re running, we tend to get so caught up in our own mental and physical fatigue that we forget to enjoy the run — and at the end of the day, isn’t that what it’s all about? You’ve worked so hard for this marathon – look up and around to take it all in.
Enjoy your running tour of the city and engage with the spectators at each mile marker. After all, it’s not every day that you have thousands of people that get up bright and early at 6 am to come and watch you run.
4. Follow The Leader
Unleash your inner competitor and play a game of “follow the leader” while you run the marathon. As you run, pick a runner who’s in your line of sight in front and challenge yourself to keep up with them throughout the race. The ultimate goal is to out-run your leader. If you manage to do this before the finish line, kudos to you! Go ahead and find a new leader to push yourself even harder. If not, save your energy until the last mile and push yourself then to give yourself the boost of energy you need to shave off a couple extra seconds off of your time.
The only caveat of this game is that if you introduce this too early on into the marathon, you risk going out too fast, too soon and you’ll find yourself fatigued Make sure to pick your target after you find your comfortable and manageable pace.
5. Posture Reset
While it’s never a good idea to start thinking about increasing your cadence or lengthening your stride mid-marathon, it is a good idea to do a quick posture reset at each mile marker. Give yourself the opportunity to do a quick form check and make sure that you’re running tall, shoulders back, and head up to help open up your diaphragm for better breathing.
Remember, 90% of the work is done during your training prior to the marathon. Don’t forget to have fun and enjoy the race!
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