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Mastering the Marathon Mindset: Tips for Mental Endurance and Peak Performance

Published: 2023-08-17
Mastering the Marathon Mindset: Tips for Mental Endurance and Peak Performance
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The great New York Yankees catcher Yogi Berra once said, “Baseball is 90 percent mental…the other half is physical.”

This observation holds true for both baseball and running a marathon. While the physical component can be trained and developed, ultimately, it's the mental aspect that determines a performance's success.

Here are a few tips for mastering the mental game when running your next marathon:


Control What You Can:

The weeks between your final long run and the marathon can indeed feel like “taper madness.” With decreased running and increased contemplation, it's easy to dwell on the “what ifs” of race day, such as unpredictable weather. Instead, focus on what's within your grasp: training, nutrition, sleep, and hydration. By managing these elements to the best of your ability, everything else will sort itself out.


Have a Plan and Stick to It

Regardless of the distance, every runner should approach a race with a plan. You've dedicated 5-6 months to training based on a detailed regimen. So why not have a clear strategy on race day as well? Having a set plan for your pace, hydration stops, and refueling can instill confidence.




Break the Marathon Down

26.2 miles can look daunting just on paper. Like any formidable task, breaking the race into smaller, more achievable goals is helpful. Consider dividing the marathon into 3-5 mile segments or by landmarks, or even by where you'll see your cheering squad next. Complete one section and then move confidently to the next.


Maintain a Positive Outlook

In Meb Keflezighi’s riveting book, “26 Marathons”, he reveals that in each of the 26 professional marathons he ran, there was a moment when he questioned: “Why in the world am I doing this?”. Meb, despite the highs of winning major marathons, earning an Olympic silver medal, and the lows of race injuries, persevered due to his intense competitive spirit and deep-seated mental strength. As you've been training, remember that you've built a similar resilience.

Harness that on race day. Challenge yourself, dig deep, and maintain a positive frame of mind. Whether engaging with the crowd, listening to an energizing music playlist, tuning into an inspirational podcast, or repeating personal mantras, discover what uplifts you and use it when it gets tough.


Physical and Mental Prep 

We invest months in crafting a physical strategy for the race. It's equally crucial to develop a mental plan. You'll set yourself up for a standout performance by focusing on both.