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Mental Considerations

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On the day, 75% of your race comes down to your mental ability to cope with the stresses of 90km.  I have listed a few mental guidelines for you to consider.  In no particular order, they are:

12 hours – No big surprise!
This should be no big surprise to you.  You are going to be on the road for at least 10 hours, if not 12!  What I am trying to say here is this.  If your watch doesn’t say 5.30pm, you are not done.  You are only done when you cross the finish line or your watch says 5.30pm.  So don’t be surprised when you look at your watch and you have been running for 8 hours already.  It’s all part of the plan.  It is a long day.  That’s what you signed up for upfront!

This is the day!
A favourite chirp of mine during the training months is “I’m sorry, I thought Comrades was on 29 May”.  The message in this chirp is that the race is a long way off and that it doesn’t help to try and “race it” before the time.  It’s about what you can do on race day.  As I mentioned in my Comrades morning page, the first thing I remind myself of on that morning is “THIS IS THE DAY”.  While I am running the race, I keep reminding myself about this fact and that I have to do it today, not yesterday or tomorrow.  On the day you have one opportunity.  Get it wrong an let me tell you, 365 days is a very long time to have to wait to get it right!

Mental games!
There are a number of mental games one can play on race day.  For me, mental games are about keeping my mind occupied so that there is no chance of letting the negative thoughts in.  I have mentioned having a running mantra in my practical considerations page.  Repeating a mantra is a good mind exercise!  Other mind activities include counting or spelling.  Simple activities really.  With counting, I just keep counting under my breath from 1 to 8.  I count in such a way as to regulate my breathing at the same time (ie. one, two (in breath), three, four (out breath), five, six (in breath), seven, eight (out breath).  I just keep repeating this exercise which, by the way, works well for getting rid of stitches!  Spelling is much like the counting except that you are repeating letters instead of numbers.  Your mind keeps busy working out what the next number or letter needs to be!

Dead and buried!
Remember this, you can be dead and buried at halfway and still pick yourself up and finish in time.  There are more than enough kilometres in this race to fix things up.  I personally find the second half of the run mentally easier than the first.  Why?  Well because I’m running TO the finish, as opposed to in the first half, where I am running FROM the start.  Hold this thought when you fall off one of the busses.  You can do it on your own.  Just believe in yourself!

I’d like to finish off with one last personal thought.  On the day, there is one truth I am sure of.  There isn’t any other place in the world that I would rather be than exactly where I am on this day.

Key words: Comrades Marathon, Mental considerations, race day, this is the day, mental games
Internal links: busses, Comrades morning, practical considerations, believe in yourself
External links: Official Comrades Marathon website,



Copyright Nikki Campbell 2008
alsoran@webafrica.org.za