Brain Hacks to Make Your Marathon Fly By
There's nothing like a marathon. The intense joy that comes with hitting the road alongside hundreds of like-minded runners just can't be beat. Still, running 26.2 miles, even in a crowd, gives you plenty of time to think. If you feel your mind veering away from positive, motivating thoughts, there are excercises you can do and ways to keep "entertained" if you will. That said, make your next 26.2 miles the best ones yet with our guide to the best brain hacks to make long runs feel short.
Mindfulness It's easy to get caught up in the happy chaos of a marathon. All of the spectators, the sounds, the other runners...it would be hard not to lose yourself in the moment. Take advantage of this amazing time to dig deep within yourself and just relax. Focus on your breath, observe it and note how it changes throughout the race. Whenever you notice your mind wandering away from your breath, gently guide it back. By concentrating on this simple (but vital) part of the experience, you'll find that everything else will just melt away and before you know it, the finish line will be within view. Game On! During those final miles, you may start to notice yourself lagging a bit. This isn’t surprising considering the amount of effort you've been exerting, but is often frustrating all the same. If at any point you notice less-than-stellar thoughts creeping into your head, banish them by setting yourself the challenge to “Find the (blank).” Just task yourself with spotting 3 things that fall within a certain category. For instance, as you crest a particularly challenging hill, try to find 3 things that start with the letter C. Next, 3 things that are orange. 3 people wearing sun hats. 3 electric cars. You get the idea. Not only is it a way to make yourself pay attention to the world around you as your run, but you'll find that before you know it, you will have conquered a handful of miles without even having noticed. Show Some Love Sometimes it's all in the way you look at things. For instance, there's often the belief that a marathon is a race where runners compete against runners in a quest to reach the finish line first. Marathoners know the truth — it isn't actually a competition at all. It's a way to share in something you adore with tons of other people who also adore it. It's an opportunity to encourage and to be encouraged. Remind yourself of this frequently as you run. Show your body and mind some gratitude for everything that you're able to do. Lose yourself in the high vibes and send your co-marathoners some positive thoughts or words. There's just something about love and kindness that makes long runs seem short. Reward Yourself In those rare moments where time seems to slow down, it can help to think about all the fun things that await you at the finish line. Not just the overwhelming sense of accomplishment that you'll be able to share with every one else who crosses that fabled line but the taste of that first sip of post-marathon beverage, the way your meal of choice will taste after a run well done, the sense of euphoria that you know will take over your entire body. You'll most likely find that thinking about all of these terrific things will help you leap over any minor hurdles you may encounter.
Learn Something It's amazing how quickly time seems to pass when you're fully immersed in a good story or lecture. Try swapping out your usual marathon playlist with an audiobook or podcast that covers a topic you've always wanted to know more about. What better way to spend those blissful hours cruising the course than by expanding your mind? Or, if you'd prefer, listen to some comedy or funny stories. Your fellow runners will thank you for sharing your infectious laugh.