The training is done and the taper is on. Now it is time to finalize wrapping your mind around the journey from Hopkinton to Copley. A marathon is filled with anxious anticipation and a few pangs of doubt. It is also filled with laughs, smiles, and excitement. This year it would be naïve to pretend that this is a normal run, it will be an emotional stew flowing through the streets. Rather than allowing you mind to run wild, consider the following thoughts to maximize the run and add enjoyment to the miles:
Acknowledge and accept.
This will be a marathon like no other. It is a celebration of strength. It is a remembrance of tragedy. It is valuable to acknowledge this so when the added emotions of the day sneak up they are accepted. Fighting to avoid anxiety can be exhausting in itself. Acknowledging that some stress and some struggle is part of the day can be settling in and of itself.
Go slow at the start.
The starting line is exciting… so go slow when milling about. Optimistic and anxious energy is wonderful. It can also be exhausting. As the mind speeds up, the body naturally follows its lead. Intentionally walking slowing or finding a few moments to sit and take a few slow breaths prior to the start saves some energy and clears the mind for the first steps across the start line.
Manage the middle.
The starting line tests the nerves, the middle miles tests one’s focus. When the beginning is in the rear view mirror and the finish line is far from site, the mind can wander and it often forgets form and finds struggles and strains. Consider the middle miles a day or two before the event and make a mental management plan. How will you remember your physical rhythm – go back to steady breathing, shrug your shoulders to loosen them, or get the length back to your stride? Where will you focus your attention – chose something or someone(s) along the route to send your gaze. Have a focus and find a feeling to stay on track in the middle.
Soak it in.
Marathon Monday is a special day. In the midst of the huffing and the puffing, the running and the racing, find at least a few moments to smile. The day is a 26.2 mile celebration of your training runs, a city, and a community. Engage in the joys of the day to find your stride and your strength. Pace yourself and remember to soak it all in.
Dr. Adam Naylor leads Telos Sport Psychology Consulting and is a Clinical Assistant Professor in Boston University’s School of Education. He has a decade and a half of experiences working with professional through amateur athletes of note: US Open competitors, NCAA champions, Olympians, Stanley Cup winners, and UFC martial artists. Beyond sports, over the past five years he has served as a corporate performance and wellness consultant. He can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @ahnaylor.