Mike’s Guest Blog #3 – Building Mental Toughness

Running a marathon will not be easy.  The thought that this will be easy has never crossed my mind.  If it was easy, I probably wouldn’t be doing it.  I’m training to run the Richmond marathon so I can push my body and mind to a place that it hasn’t been before.  It will be very hard.

I’ve run races ranging in distance from 5k to half-marathons.  I was a naval officer for 5 years and had to pass semi-annual physical fitness exams.  I’d like to say that I’m in pretty good shape.  Barring injury, I’m not overly concerned about being able to physically complete the marathon.  Mentally though, that is a different story.  I’ve never run for more than 2 hours.  The goal is to finish this race in less than 3:45.  In my past half-marathons, I’ve run out of gas just after mile 10.  This is partially due to lack of training, partially because I’ve run so many 10 milers in the past 8 years, but mostly because my brain is telling me to stop running.

If you showed me a map of any half-marathon in the country, I can probably point to the spot where my pace would drop from 8:00/mile to 9:00/mile or worse.  It’s not too far after mile 10.  It’s happened the last 2 years in the Rock and Roll USA half marathon in DC.

I’ve never followed a formal training plan for any race, not even the sprint and olympic triathlons that I’ve done in the past.  The training program that we’re using (Hal Higdon Novice 2) is a 17 week plan, with 12 training runs over 10 miles.  This will definitely prepare me physically to run the marathon.  But I believe that an equally, if not more, important aspect of the training overlooked by most people is the mental toughness that a 4 days of running per week training plan will impart.  If you stick to the training plan (and I’d recommend you do), you’re not only build physical endurance, but also build discipline.  I’m disciplined in my day-to-day life, but never to the point of sticking to a formal training plan.

I’m building the mental toughness needed to run 26.2.  I’m not there yet, but I already feel different mentally at this point in training.  I look forward to the morning runs.  I look forward to the long weekend runs.  My brain is being trained to run 26.2.  I can’t wait for November 16th.

On a side note, while my golf game has taken a backseat to running, I did pick up a new pair of FootJoy M Project golf shoes.  This pair is a minimalist design, in not-usually-seen blue and grey.  I’m hoping to test these out soon.  Will you all know how they work out.

FootJoy M Project

FootJoy M Project

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One comment

  1. […] mental and physical barriers I’ve encountered during all three of my half-marathons (see this post).  This run confirmed that I can keep a steady pace for an entire half-marathon and that I’m […]

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