ASICS LA Marathon Blogger Team for next month's race has had many advantages, and one of them is being coached by Andrew Kastor, who trains Olympians and elite runners in Mammoth Lakes, Calif. It is a privilege, to say the least. I wanted to make sure running friends of mine might benefit from some of Coach Kastor's insights, so I am relaying these two mental tips:
1. Strengthen Your Mind
One of Coach Kastor's young runners, Gabe Proctor, is making his marathon debut in the LA race. They spent time looking over the course from Dodger Stadium to Santa Monica, and Coach Kastor told him to "imagine that the Pacific Ocean is a giant magnet, pulling him toward the finish line with growing strength as he nears the 26.2 mile mark.” Here is what Coach Kastor advises:
The goal is to create a feeling so powerful that the moment he thinks of the ocean, he starts to fall forward due to his subconscious mind having such a grasp on his physical being. The mind is a powerful thing, we all know this. Put it to work for you. Here are some ideas to help you through the last 3 weeks of training and ultimately the marathon.
1. Imagine the Pacific Ocean (or wherever your finish is) is calling you, pulling you towards it. Stand up, close your eyes, and visualize yourself being pulled by an incredibly strong force and allow your body to fall forward.
2. Imagine you weigh only 80%, 70%, 50% of your current body weight when going up a hill. Bound up the hill with ease! This really works. Be lighter, be faster, and be a stronger hill runner by using this technique.
3. Pretend you are a running robot, run with perfect form and calculation and turn off your emotions for the first 20 miles of the marathon, then run with your heart and soul the last 10k!
2. Choose Positivity
From Coach Kastor:
I encourage all of you to try and use a positive affirmation during your next long training session. Here are a few examples: "I choose to finish the marathon," "I'm strong and powerful," "I am a marathoner," "I'm light and fast," or "I am a Kenyan!" For you folks trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon, “I choose Boston.” For those who are challenged by hills, “I am a hill runner” or “I love hills.” Repeat them until you believe them!
Allow yourself to spontaneously come up with a positive saying that truly speaks to you, personally, during one of your workouts or races. This positive phrase should penetrate each and every cell of your body, allowing you to believe what you're telling yourself, right down to your DNA.
Remember: The more you believe the affirmation, the truer it will become.
Check out the Mammoth Track Club for some inspiration. Follow @CoachKastor and his wife and Olympic great @DeenaKastor on Twitter.
Q: What is a mental tip you have for other runners training for a marathon?