Marathon Training: Postivity and Confidence on the Run


Marathon Training Week 10: Positivity and Confidence on the Run

by Karl Gruber

I’m not exactly sure where I get it from, but I have a life-long, build-in confidence and optimism. Sure, I have my moments of self-doubt, but then, sure enough, my inherent positivity rears its head, and keeps me going toward the completion of yet another goal. This optimistic trait of mine has served me well during the years of running, especially during the marathon.

I can remember going to the starting line of the Chicago Marathon one year, with my left knee and my right ankle absolutely killing me. However, I knew that they were not major injuries and that I had a lot of hard training “in the bank.” My trait of faith in my ability to successfully run 26.2 miles – even though my body was a bit beat up – pumped me up with confidence to run. Sure enough, I was able to convince my body to carry me to the finish line 26.2 miles later, and felt better than I did at the start. 

So how and where does confidence and positivity as a runner come into play in your marathon training? I like the way that Richard Ferguson, Ph.D., the Chair of the Physical Education, Wellness & Sport Science Dept. at Averett University, put it in a recent article, “Runners who perceive challenges as a positive tend to find a way to turn the challenges into enhanced goals. They strive to meet the challenges and continue on toward reaching their long-term running goals.”

What I like about his point is that as you face the many issues that can and do crop up during your training, (i.e., injuries, time constraints because of family and work, bad training runs, etc.), if you maintain a positive outlook, you can build your confidence. Focus on these challenges as motivation to successfully see that finish line of your planned marathon, and not use them as an excuse to not succeed. Heck, I haven’t even mentioned the positive benefits and overtones that your positive outlook and confidence have in many other areas of your life!

Since this is the second blog that I have written pertaining to establishing a sound mental aspect to your training and racing, it should be obvious that this is a very important aspect to master in order to run your marathon well. 

Copious amounts of research in both the studies of psychology and exercise physiology, exist regarding this topic. As I mentioned, establishing self-confidence in your ability to propel yourself over 26.2 miles of running is key to your success. 

Dr. Timothy Noakes states in his book, Lore of Running, “Central to this notion of the importance of psychological factors in determining racing performance is the idea that positive self-concept is associated with a strong belief system. But self-concept is not static; each day brings new challenges to the self-concept that will either enhance or detract from it. In a sense there is a vicious cycle; success breeds success and failure breeds failure. The only way to break this cycle, therefore, is to strengthen the self-concept.” 

So take on this challenge called the marathon by first conditioning your body to endure such a long distance, then fortify your mind to know, I mean really know, that you can do this. Follow this course of action, and I guarantee you will come across the finish line of your marathon with a big smile of success on your face. 

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