Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Mentally Preparing For The Half Marathon

Now clearly the physical aspect of running a half marathon is what you need to train for. There are however some mental obstacles that you  will also have to overcome. Despite what you may think when starting out, endurance and persistence are not always easy things to achieve. You may have heard the saying, "when the going gets tough, the tough get going."

That is indeed a fine statement and many class it as a statement of winners. Like many things in life though, words come pretty easy, whereas practical action is not always that simple. If it was easy as some make out, then everyone would run and finish a half marathon. The reality though is something quite different.

Overcoming Mental Blocks When Running

The average training plan for a half marathon is 12 weeks or 84 days. Apart from the rest days, it does require you to get out on the roads and cover the training distance. In the first few weeks that is actually an easy thing to do. The reason for this is that you are keen, enthusiastic and raring to go. The distances are also short and there is a great sense of achievement.

It is from about week 5 -8 that a few people really start to struggle for a number of reasons. The novelty has gone, the hard work has started and it is starting to get a lot more of a struggle. I have seen many people delay this training, or worse still, postpone or abandon their training plan to another time. For most of those people they will never go back to the plan and will never make it to the half marathon race day.
Mental Blocks For The Half Marathon


When examining what happens it breaks down into two main reasons:


  1. They were not properly physically prepared
  2. They were not properly mentally prepared

The physical element is most likely because they didn't follow a training plan. They either did too little or did too much training and have perhaps had an injury or illness. The mental aspect is the one we are discussing in this article and I think it is the most important.

When starting out on a training plan for a half marathon there are certain mental obstacles you need to deal with at the time. If you don't there is no doubt these will come back to haunt you. I have listed these below and they are very important to understand:

  • Making time for training
  • Family Life
  • Work Life
  • Commitment

The Mental Impacts On Others of Long Distance Running

You will need to make time for training. That will have an impact on the other issues in your life including your family, your work and any other commitments that you may already have. For example if you are a young mother then more than likely you will have more family commitments that a single male living at home.

Each of our individual living circumstances will be slightly different. The bottom line though if you want to run and complete a half marathon, then you need to take into account all of these issues right from the start. I see little point in committing to a 12-week training plan, if you know that a family holiday is planned during that period.

It is similar if you have work commitments that may take you away from your plan. All of these type of issues can of course be worked around if you recognise and identify them right at the start. You can find alternative ways to train, find different places to run and compromise on the rest days.

Where there is a will there is certainly a way.

The key to this is in the planning. Think about how the impact of you taking on a 12-week training program could impact on your work and on your family life. Have honest conversations with anyone who may be impacted and garner their support. That will greatly help the risk of our dropping out or pausing your training.