4 Ways to Relax Before a Marathon
Ah the week before a marathon! It can feel like the longest week of your entire training plan.
On one hand, you’re running fewer miles than you have in months. Physically, you probably feel great and have more energy. Don’t be tempted to run harder than you should.
On the other hand, mentally you might be feeling anxious, excited or totally unsure of what to expect. The focus of the past three or four months is about to culminate in one single running event.
All of that is normal!
While there are plenty of important things to focus on during the final week, learning to relax before a marathon may be one of the most important.
The Art of Becoming a Relaxed Runner
A much wiser runner than myself recently told me there is nothing I can do in the final week (from a fitness perspective) to help my chances of reaching my marathon goals. All of the long runs and speed work are behind me. All I can do now is stay loose and relaxed.
Focusing on sleep, hydration and getting those ever important glycogen stores replenished are going to be key to reaching whatever goals you have.
Runners are typically good at most of those things. What we aren’t so good at is relaxing. Here are a few tips to help you relax in the final week before your marathon.
1. Trust Your Training
If you were disciplined and consistent with your training plan, that’s all you can ask for. TRUST IT! Remind yourself of all the hard work you put in. Remember the sacrifices you’ve made, and the way you’ve grown as a person during your preparation.
But what if I didn’t? What if I had a bad long run, or didn’t do enough speed work?
It doesn’t matter! One or two bad runs do not define your entire training program. Assuming you were disciplined and consistent, you have to trust that your training has prepared you.
That being said, if things really have gotten off track, maybe you need to adjust your goals. Regardless, all you can do at this point is trust what you did do and relax.
2. Stop Thinking about Running
I think about running way, way too much. I over analyze each run, compare it with what I did last time and try to predict where I’m at now. It’s very mentally exhausting and not at all relaxing.
This constant thinking is just going to psych you out. During the final week before your marathon, there’s no reason to start questing everything you’ve been working so hard at for the past several months.
What are your other hobbies? Oh, you don’t have any?! Me either right now.
Start watching TV, rent some movies, read a book about vampires or werewolves and get your mind off of running for a bit. I’m not suggesting slacking off and losing focus. Far from it! As long as you continue to finish your taper, sleep, hydrate, and fuel properly, thinking about something unrelated to running can help you relax before a marathon.
3. Sleep WILL Help you Relax Before a Marathon
For goodness sake, go to bed! Give yourself an early bedtime and stick to it. Put your phone, laptop, TV, whatever, in a time locked safe and don’t look at it after 9 pm. I have gone on and on about the importance of sleep for runners. Do whatever you can to get extra sleep. It will help you feel rested and ready to approach the starting line full of new life.
Along those same lines, what other things help you sleep better? Music, Yoga, prayer and meditation can be great practices to help you calm down and sleep more soundly.
4. Stay Positive
Self doubt and second guessing yourself is never a beneficial or productive activity. In the final week before your marathon, stay positive. Think happy thoughts. Draw pictures of rainbows and butterflies with crayons. Staying positive will help you stay relaxed, and more often than not, a relaxed runner is a strong runner.
How to Run Relaxed
Finally, on race day while you’re running, ask yourself, “do I feel relaxed?”
If not, try to loosen your shoulders, jaw and arms. Take a deep breath and get to that state of zen where you feel like you’re just floating as you run. Find a motivating phrase or word to keep your mind positive. There will be times when racing won’t feel good. Fight through that by staying calm, relaxed and have fun!
How do you relax before a marathon? Share some tips below.