For most runners, the key to running a marathon is to understand that it is not so much a physical as a mental challenge. Your body does not want you to run a marathon. Your mind must make you do it. Therefore, you have to develop a rationale so powerful, a determination so strong that it will enable your mind to overcome the vigorous protests of your body.
Never underestimate the power that one good workout will have on your mind. Keeping the dream alive is half the battle.
Running has always been a relief and a sanctuary—something that makes me feel good, both physically and mentally. For me it’s not so much about the health benefits. Those are great, but I believe that the best thing about running is the joy it brings to life.
The hardest part of a marathon isn’t crossing the finishing line. It’s having the courage to cross the starting line.
Hardship, in forcing us to exercise greater patience and forbearance in daily life, actually makes us stronger and more robust. From the daily experience of hardship comes a greater capacity to accept difficulties without losing our sense of inner calm. Of course, I do not advocate seeking out hardship as a way of life, but merely wish to suggest that, if you relate to it constructively, it can bring greater inner strength and fortitude.
I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.
That feeling of “I don’t think I’m ready for the marathon” that you have after running 20 miles is a piece of the mental game that we play as we get ready for the race. Try to get your mind from the space of “I don’t think I’m ready” to “I’m done with my training and I’ve gone so far to get here.” When race day comes, you’ll find out how different it feels. Until then, it’s up to you to think positive thoughts and prepare for the big day with excited anticipation rather than dread. Start getting excited about finishing your marathon. You’ll be on that finish-line soon enough.
-Coach Joe English Team in Training