It is definitely the racing season with marathons and half marathons taking place across the country in February. Since this is the case, we thought it would be a good idea to tackle issues around racing in the next few blogs.
Studies show that each thought we have can actually change the structure and function of our brains. So, literally thinking that you can do something alters your brain. This brings to mind the age-old adage: If you can believe it, you can achieve it.
Personally, this saying is soooo over-used that I often don’t let myself think about it. But the truth in the saying is paramount, and it has been scientifically proven: if you can believe it, you can achieve it.
Being aware of your thoughts is the first step to success in any sport.
If you run a 21km race with an ingrained, even brainwashed, belief in yourself, your training and your potential, then you are already half way to achieving your goal.
Being a marathoner and ultra-marathoner, I completely understand that this is easier said than done. Because I know, come that 28km mark in a marathon, or the 60km mark in Comrades, my thinking and self-belief goes out the window. And this is totally, 100% normal!
The trick is to not stay in this place.
You need to allow yourself 1-2km of wallowing in disbelief and wondering why the hell you started running in the first place. But only give it a max of 2km. Then you need to find it in yourself to pick yourself up again. This is imperative. If you remain wallowing in self-pity and disbelief for the last 12km of your marathon, let me tell you, it will easily take you 1 and a half – 2 hours to get to the finish line.
Now, there are certain things you can do to help you in these moments on race day. And they all depend on you, and what works for you.
For me, I write, in permanent marker, words and phrases on my hand and arm – throughout the race, I look at them and remind myself of these positive thoughts. Sometimes, I am in such a pickle that I actually say them out loud while I am running.
I once ran Comrades with a marble in my pocket, because it reminded me of an incredibly tough beach session Steph and I did a few months before.
But you could wear a bracelet or a necklace with a word that inspires you on it, or an armband or a ring that represents the reason you are running. Because let me tell you, you will forget the reason you are running the race, and you will forget that you have put the mileage and the speedwork in.
So in the weeks leading up to your marathon, find that thing that inspires you, source quotes, song lyrics, and words that mean something to you, and that are guaranteed to pick you up in your lowest moments.
Think yourself out of the slump. Think yourself to victory. We believe in you!!