There’s no doubt about it, training for a marathon is hard. When it comes to the big day, you’ll be pushing your body and mind to places you’ve never been before. You need to be prepared with the right training.
Training is all about getting your body right, but there will be a mental side too. And when you’re training in the depths of winter or you need to run 18 miles on a Sunday, motivation will be key. So, how do you stay motivated during marathon training? Here are our easyfundraising tips for marathon training motivation.
1. Set realistic and specific goals
You’re not just going to be able to go and run 26 miles. Everyone has to start somewhere with their training. When you first start up and each time you go out right through your training, you need to set specific goals.
It could be running a bit further than last time or reaching a certain point in your route without walking. These small goals will help focus your mind and assist with your marginal gains – you’ll get better and better each time in small steps. If you run without focus, it’s too easy to lose your motivation.
2. Create a training plan
Setting small and realistic goals feeds into your wider training plan. Begin with 30 minutes walking or jogging four times a week. Once you’re comfortable with this, you can start to set yourself goals that are more challenging – it could be running a mile without stopping or keeping a consistent pace for a certain distance. This will help your body become acclimatised to running and you can start your training properly.
Remember, everyone is different and will have different objectives for running a marathon. Try and understand what is realistic for you and build your training around it. For first-time marathon runners, you’ll find a fantastic training program for the London Marathon that will have you ready in just 16 weeks.
3. Find accountability and support
Solo training can be disheartening, especially in the depths of winter or in the pouring rain. It can be easy to give up, even if you’re just working to small goals each time you go out.
Accountability is crucial. Simple steps such as downloading an app like Strava to track your runs will help in holding you to account when you want to cut short your training. The little voice in your headphones can work wonders simply by letting you know your current pace and distance. Joining a running group can also help with support when things are getting tough. Plus if you’re going out running with other people, even just for some of your training, it gives you something to look forward to. You can find running groups or running clubs in your area on websites like Run Together or through a simple search on Google or Facebook.
If a group of your friends are doing a marathon too, there’s nothing like having a group of like-minded people to push you through the hard times. And celebrate those small wins on your training path too.
4. Mix up your training routine
Running the same route day after day, week after week and month after month can be a real motivation drain. The key is to mix things up. If you’re running on a treadmill, get outside and feel the air in your lungs. One of the best things about running the London Marathon for example is seeing the sights of the city along the way. You can do this closer to home too. Run to that lake nearby. Head out in the city and see some sights as part of your training. It might not feel like training, at least for a little while.
There are other ways to mix things up. You could try hill repeats, do a session at your local track or run a Park Run 10K to get into the racing spirit. If you keep your runs fresh, you’ll keep your mind fresh too.
5. Celebrate your progress and accomplishments
Yes you might not have run 26.2 miles before, but you might never have run 10, 15 or 20 miles either. When you hit these milestones during training, celebrate them. You’re pushing your body in training to go further and further, so you need to recognise these achievements as you go. When you tick off a milestone, reward yourself – this could be with a massage or some new sports gear for example (you know you deserve it!).
Even simple steps like creating a hard-copy of your training plan, pinning it up on your wall and ticking off achievements can keep you motivated.
Staying motivated for the finish line
Remember, running a marathon is just as much about your mental strength as it is physical. You have to keep your body and mind in peak condition. To keep your mind from wavering and to stay motivated create an appropriate training plan, set those small goals, keep yourself accountable and don’t forget to celebrate all your small wins. And if you feel your motivation start to drop, don’t be hard on yourself. You’ve got this!
With the right focus and commitment, those 26.2 miles will fly by. To learn more about training for a marathon, read our helpful guide.