Katie Chance’s Guest Blog 2 – The mental side of the marathon

Katie running the Surrey half

Since I last wrote, the miles in my marathon training plan ramped up quite quickly. In fact, when I saw the second stage of the plan, slight panic set in. The honeymoon stage of training for a marathon was well and truly over. I told myself not to get overwhelmed. Break it down. One week at a time. One day at a time. Nothing was really that different from before, other than the increase in volume….

As the weeks progressed, the weekday sessions were great. It was the “dreaded” long run at the weekend which kept getting to me. My 18-miler was the worst. I started negotiating with myself 10km into the run, which meant I spent the next 20km trying not to quit. It was not fun.

Nothing physical or mechanical was wrong with those runs. So, the homework assigned was to figure out why I was struggling mentally, and then find a way to get out of that space. On reflection, it was obvious that I had gotten myself into a bubble of negativity. I actually called it the “dreaded” long run when speaking to people. I convinced myself and everyone around me that the long run would be terrible, so it’s no surprise that it was. And I lost sight of my goal and purpose.

I had to get on the positive mental attitude train. I needed to remember why I was doing this and start believing in myself again.

So I started by smiling more when talking about training. Then I told myself, and everyone who asked, that a 20-miler coming up and I was ready to smash it! I said it out loud all week long to anyone that would listen.

I also read through my training log book. A reminder of my target time at the front. Then each week’s results showing concrete evidence of my progress since January. Finally, I re-read the two positive things that I had written about each week since starting this journey. Training, and life generally, really IS going well! Now I was starting to believe it.

Then I reminded myself of all the inspiring people who spoke of their mental health struggles at the Heads Together training day. Wow. If they can go through their life experiences, and manage to train for and complete a marathon, then so can I.

The 20-miler arrived, and so did the snow. I still got tired, and there were still moments of doubt. At one point, the snow was coming in sideways straight into my ears. It was nuts, but fun! And this time I didn’t let my thoughts sabotage the run. I smiled when I got tired (there is actually research on how effective this is). Everyone I saw received a very cheerful hello. I thought of those inspiring examples from my training day. And I repeated a mantra: “I am strong; I can do this”. You know what? I finished it. With a massive improvement from the previous week.

So that’s the plan for getting through 26.2 miles. I’ll let you know how it goes in just a few more weeks!