10 Top Marathon Motivation Tips

With a week until the London marathon, there’s no more training to be done. It’s taper time. Whilst the body rests, now is the time to get your mind into gear and prepare for the challenge ahead.

 Mountain running in Chamonix

Mountain running in Chamonix

If you are starting to worry, feel fear or contemplate doubts, that is totally normal, you are not alone. I am doing the same. If it was easy everyone would be doing it! If you knew you could do it, it wouldn’t be a challenge.

What happens in the mind during those 26.2 miles cannot be predicted or controlled, but it can be managed and we can prepare for it.

 Deep in the pain cave - Ironman Wales 2013

Deep in the pain cave - Ironman Wales 2013

Here are my top tips and tricks for developing the right mindset to overcome mental barriers:

1. Control your preparation

Start planning now for the days, hours, minutes before your race. Don’t leave anything up to chance that could use up precious energy or create stress. Plan your nutrition, kit, travel and what music you’ll listen to on the way there. All of this can have a huge impact on your performance. The night before a big race, I pack and lay out my kit, eat pasta at 6pm, take a bath and am aim to be in bed by 8:30pm.

2. Harness your motivation

Understand what's your why and dig deep into your internal motivators. Think about how fortunate you are to do this. I love this quote; “One day I will not be able to do this. Today is not that day.”

 Alpine Coast to Coast 2013

Alpine Coast to Coast 2013

3. Distract your mind

When the pain levels increase, your mind will crave a distraction so give it something else to focus on. Listen to music or focus on the people racing with you and draw from the energy of those supporting you.

4. Use positive reinforcements

Have a bank of positive images, quotes, songs that make you feel good or a message from someone that believes in you to remind you, you can do this!

 The Vertical KM Chamonix 2015

The Vertical KM Chamonix 2015

5. Let it flow

Sometimes the pain will cause a release of emotion and if I am really struggling, the only option is to let that emotion go and keep on trucking. In time everything will pass.

6. Keep on trucking

Just don't stop! Put one foot in front of the next and repeat. I had a really tough time in the Race to the Stones 100km ultramarathon. I couldn’t find the motivation to continue suffering but deep down I knew I wanted to finish the race. There were tears, doubts, highs, lows and a lot of pain, but I kept on going and finished with a smile 13 hours later.

 Ironman Wales 2013

Ironman Wales 2013

7. Break it down

Break down your objective into smaller, more sizeable chunks. If it’s a marathon, that’s four sets of 10km with a bit extra. Don't let your mind get overwhelmed by the bigger picture.

8. Believe in yourself

Probably the most important! It’s hard and it will hurt, but we are all capable of far more than we realise. This is your chance to prove to yourself how strong you are.

 The Alpine Coast to Coast 2014

The Alpine Coast to Coast 2014

9. Use a Motivational Mantra

In my darkest moments, sometimes the only thing that gets me through is repeating a mantra to myself. Something short, positive and encouraging. Don’t leave any room in your head for that negative voice by repeating something positive, it works! What you think becomes how you feel.

10. Envisage your finish line treat

What’s waiting for you at the finish line? Maybe your family are there, maybe you’re raising money for charity, or did you stop drinking alcohol or give up chocolate until after the race? For me, it’s that first hug with my family, the feeling of achievement and that post-race burger and beer that motivate me to keep on pushing.

 Tough Mudder 2015

Tough Mudder 2015

Go chase your dreams and turn them into your proudest moments.

Good luck and if you are running the London marathon, say hi!

 Ironman Wales 2012

Ironman Wales 2012

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I'm running the London Marathon with Lucozade and have a complimentary place. I will be raising money for Right To Play.

Sophie Radcliffe, London Marathon Motivation Tips