The 2015 Edinburgh Marathon is almost upon us. The gun will go off at 9.50am on 31st May with thousands of runners streaming out of Edinburgh on the 26.2 mile course. I will be one of these runners.
I have been training for the Edinburgh Marathon since about January. Having completed two 10km runs and a half marathon in the last couple of years, I felt that I was ready to step up to the challenge of the marathon. As a trainee sports psychologist I also felt that I could use the psychological knowledge and techniques that I teach my clients to tackle the challenges that I will face in training and in the race.
I have documented my training over the last few months below with some of the psychology techniques I have been using.
January and February
Training started gradually throughout the winter months. Short and intensive runs to build up lactate threshold were combined with gradually increasing the distance in a long run every week. Mentally, as this point in training, you are feeling positive and looking forward to the months ahead.
What is important in these early stages is to have short goals that you are looking to achieve. The end goal of the marathon seems a long way away so having these short term goals helps to maintain motivation in the long term. Setting only a goal of completing the marathon at this point will make motivation to training difficult.
March and April
In March, with the weather slowly getting better and the lights becoming longer, the mileage increased. I was following a training programme through my Garmin running watch which helped to keep me focused and on track with my training.
Physically, this is one of the hardest parts of the marathon process. You are increasing the mileage every week with a long run at the weekend and a lactate threshold run through the week, sometimes adding another light run in or some swimming in as well. My mileage increased from 12 mile long runs at the beginning of March to 21 mile runs at the end of April. Ensuring that you are recovering well by stretching, using foam rollers, ice baths and correct nutrition is a big part of the training process and is something you need to be committed to.
Mentally, you are looking for points of motivation and confidence. My motivation came from setting myself small goals and reaching these. Increasing the mileage by a small amount each week gave me a manageable and realistic goal to aim for. Reaching this then gave me the confidence to increase it for the next week. Whilst running, I used distraction techniques to help me. I found that focusing on areas away from my running helped me disassociate from the task. I found that focusing too much on myself and how my legs where feeling made it more of a challenge.
During this period I had a knee injury which unfortunately hampered my training. I used swimming to reduce the load for around a week which still allowed me to work on my fitness and feel that I was not losing out. This was tough from a mental side but I had to remind myself that continuing training with an injured knee would only hamper me in the long term.
The month of the marathon came around quickly and started with the last long run (22 miles) before the tapering in the weeks running up to the marathon itself.
Running 22 miles was a great achievement for me. It was extremely challenging but the idea behind it was to be able to say to myself on the day ‘I have run 22 miles; I only have 4 miles of uncharted territory to go’. This will give me confidence going in to the marathon which I think that is very important.
Physically and mentally it is going to be tougher than anything I have taken on before but I am looking forward to the challenge.
Another motivation for me is raising money for Diabetes Scotland. It is a charity close to my family and I and it has been a constant source of motivation throughout. If you would like to donate please do so through my Just Giving page – www.justgiving.com/MarkIanBrodie
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About Mark Brodie
I am a BASES Probationary Sport and Exercise Scientist focusing on psychology. Founder of Think.Win Sports Psychology Consultancy.