The Edinburgh Marathon – 3 Steps To Getting The Most Out Of Your Race

Following on from my London Marathon blog, my followers suggested that I write something to help people prepare for the Edinburgh marathon this week. Unlike London, the course probably isn’t fast enough to permit a discussion on somebody going under 2:04:59 although it’d be great to see of course!

So how and why is running a marathon such a challenge for elite athletes and novices alike? While Haile Gebresellasie might burn his way round in just over 2 hours, lesser mortals are more likely to be pounding the roads for 3 to 5 hours. The first challenge then is the motivation required to keep on pace for such a long period of time. It’s very easy to lose heart when you’ve been out for a couple of hours and know that you’ve still got a long way to go.

The next challenge is maintaining focus and concentration over such a long period of time. While the act of running is an automatic action after a while, a marathon tests our ability to remain focussed on completing the process.

The last challenge that I want to consider is having confidence and belief in your ability to complete the race. If you talk yourself out of it beforehand then the race is over before you even take one step.

So here are my 3 tips for getting the most out of your marathon race:

Firstly, plan. Sit down and think about what it is you want to get out of this race. If you understand what it is you really want and why you’re doing this it’s a lot easier to remain motivated.
If you’re running in memory of someone or for a charity then you might simply want to complete the race and to enjoy the experience. These are subjective outcome goals and are potentially great sources of inspiration when you hit the ‘wall’! If you’re looking for a certain time then write that down and look at it in the days before the race.

Secondly, use that planning to keep focussed. Outcome goals are great but also try using some process goals. Calculate how fast you need to run each mile and then use that to keep you on track for achieving your outcome goal. Also use it as a method of praising yourself when you are on or ahead of schedule! You can also set technical goals here, for example focussing on finding an ‘easy’ rhythm in the first 3 miles.

Finally, stay relaxed and positive! When top athletes talk about their best performances they always talk about being relaxed and it feeling ‘easy’ even though they were working hard. In the days beforehand try visualising yourself being relaxed and in control at particular points in the race. Don’t get too concerned with the outcomes and instead focus on putting together the best race that you can.

These are some very simple but incredibly effective strategies and techniques for helping you to achieve your goals and to enjoy the marathon. It is an incredible challenge so think about how you want to feel afterwards and go out there and give it everything!

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