You’ve made it through the bulk of your half-marathon training, so now it’s all about that final push to the finish after months of hard work. When it comes to marathon motivation in the weeks right before the big race, it’s best to keep things simple but efficient and maintain a positive attitude to succeed throughout your final training runs.
Below are a few techniques I implement during the end of a training session to have my running motivation at an all time high while keeping fatigue at bay. From getting a good night’s sleep to remembering to enjoy the journey, these tips will help you stay energized all the way to race day.
Eat for Fuel
When you’re running three to five miles a day, you can sometimes get away with eating for fun. But, as you start to log eight, ten, and twelve miles, it becomes imperative that you eat smart and give your body the fuel it needs to complete distance runs as well as the necessary nutrients to aid in recovery.
Before any long run (90 minutes or more), I cook up a carb-heavy dinner of pasta, marinara sauce, and meatless meatballs (you can substitute any healthy protein of your choice). The carbohydrates in the pasta will help to fuel your muscles on the early morning run and to prevent you from hitting the dreaded wall.
After a run, you’re going to want to replenish your fluids and have a snack within 15 minutes. I keep water and a banana in my car to enjoy on the way home. You’re also going to want to eat a carb-heavy, healthy meal, like avocado toast, within an hour.
We’ve all heard it before—the National Sleep Foundation recommends adults get an average of eight hours of sleep per night. This becomes especially important when you’re training for a physical accomplishment like running a half-marathon.
As with most aspects of the training process, planning is key. Do the eight-hour math ahead of time; so if you’re getting up at 6 a.m. for a run, be in bed by 10 p.m. A good night’s sleep helps your body recover, and reduces stress and anxiety. Getting into a good sleep habit will also help you keep your routine and prevent a restless night come race day.
Visualize Route Success
As race day approaches, I find it helpful to study the course map so I know where all of the water stops are and I can identify which legs of the race may have obstacles like steep hills. On longer runs, I then visualize the feeling of the big race and focus on having a strong and enjoyable experience.
Knowing the course map will also help you to recommend mile markers to your family and friends who will want to cheer you on. If the 11th mile ends with a big hill, ask your cheering section to be on the top ready to give you added motivation for the final push.
Last but not least, a key ingredient to marathon motivation is fun. Most of us aren’t elite runners, so the training process should be an enjoyable way to get in some cardio, experience the great outdoors, and reach a new goal.
When training starts to drag you down, try to identify the problem and the solution as soon as possible. For example, if your muscles are sore and heavy, stretch more and take an ice bath. If the weather is cold and windy, hop on a treadmill for a few days or purchase some winter running gear. If you feel like you’re missing out on time with family and friends, ask them to join you for a smaller run or even just a few miles.
When preparation, motivation, and enthusiasm combine, anyone can succeed in enjoying a fun, safe, and successful race. Revisit more half-marathon training tips with parts one and two of this article series on running motivation.
Congratulations on embarking on the journey to the finish line! What was your favorite part about the half-marathon training process? Let us know with a #GoodMatters tweet.
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