Running is a wholistic sport, that is, it includes all aspects of who you are- mind body and soul. It is therefore very important to take care of each of these aspects of yourself when reaching your running goal.

With the Two Oceans Marathon just over a month away, training is at an all-time peak and anxiety levels are sky rocketing. Of course we may have the physical training under control, but what about the mental training? When we train for an ultra-marathon, we often focus so much on the physical-upping the mileage, strength, foam rolling, stretching, visiting the physiotherapist- (I know I am certainly guilty of this) that we forget or totally neglect the mental health in this training journey. It certainly something we do not train enough especially in preparing for an ultra marathon.

We have all heard of the saying “running is more of a mental sport than it is physical” which is an exact depiction of running any ultra-marathon. I am sure we can relate your legs giving in towards the end of a marathon and feeling like you cannot go on- that’s when your mental strength kicks in. But it will of course not kick in if you have not prepared it or trained it like you have trained your body. Here are a few tips on how you can prepare mentally, especially for the upcoming Two Oceans Marathon

Visualization plays an important role in mental training, helping us develop our skills and reach our fitness goals. Before we run any race, we always think of a goal and imagine ourselves achieving it. This is what we should always be thinking about throughout our training. During the race, when everything begins to hurt, imagine what it will be like to cross the finish line. I also find that dividing the route into shorter segments and celebrate the success of finishing each one helps a great deal.

Running alone can be nice at first, but you may feel a bit lonely and demotivated with time. Running with someone or a group of people keeps you motivated. This also allows you to share you to share your running journey with like minded people as well as having accountability partners to hold you accountable throughout your physical and mental training.

This may sound odd, but speaking yourself through your training will help you speak to yourself through your race day. Tell yourself how awesome you are and how you are going to smash the ultramarathon. Always speak words of reassurance to yourself, especially during training.

This is probably the best way to get your mind in the right place before a race. Sit comfortably in a calm and quiet space, close your eyes, and focus on your breathing. This is also a great technique to calm any anxieties you may have.

So as you are training for the Two Oceans Ultra Marathon, do not forget to work on developing a running mindset along with your strength and endurance training. And always remember to be kind to yourself. 

written by

Mbalenhle Gumbi

Educational Psychologist from Johannesburg

Age group: 29
Club: Adventist Athletics Club

My Disciplines
Fitness Half Marathon Ultra Marathon Marathon Strength Training

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