Mentally Preparing for My First Full Marathon

As I sit down for my avocado and egg sandwich and a tall glass of water, I realized there’s less than one week before I race my first full marathon.

When did that happen?

Now that race day is nearing and I’ve peaked in my training plan, people are asking “how’s your training going?” and “are you ready?”

Those may be some of the worst things to say to a runner, but I asked myself this morning those same questions and I feel pretty damn good about it.

I didn’t do as much strength training as I’d hoped for, and I didn’t peak at 20 miles like my training plan desired. But, I got out for the short and long runs—rain or shine.

We work SO HARD for our races, it’s almost bittersweet knowing you’re so close to the finish line, yet you still have to get through the tough part: the race.

Tips for mentally preparing for a race:

Don’t let nerves get you down! There’s no doubt they’ll show up, but try to push them away. Think of it this way: it’s just another run.

Test things out. Throughout training, be sure to do things you’d like to do on race day, like the food you’ll eat and the clothes you’ll wear. It’s good to test those things out beforehand so you feel confident come race day.

Set a goal. Whether it’s a certain pace, a chip time, or a “just finish” goal, setting something will help you stay focused on it.

Soak up the energy from the fans. Sure, they’re standing there for friends and family, but if you tell yourself everyone’s cheering YOU on, it’ll make a big difference.

During training runs, cheer yourself on. It can be hard when you get in the 15- 18-mile ranges. Tell yourself “I can do this” or “you’re doing so great!”

Treat yourself! Throughout training, when you hit a wall and just need a day off, move your short run back a day and indulge in a fancy Starbucks drink or plan a date night out with a good meal and a movie. Then, book yourself a massage or set aside an allowance for new running clothes after you complete the race. You deserve it!

Throw a party! Invite your friends, family, and partner out for a celebratory beer. First, to thank them for being flexible and supportive during your training season. And second, to make up for the happy hours you had to decline throughout training.

Take a tip or leave a tip in the comments below, but most importantly: just have a good time.

If you’re not enjoying the race, you’re probably not going to have a successful run. You’ve worked so hard, so keep it up to the finish line and cheers to you for sticking with it!


Happy training and racing!

3 Replies to “Mentally Preparing for My First Full Marathon”

  1. Amber enjoyed your article, the same advice works for those of us who plan to start and finish the half marathon as well. Good luck with your run.

  2. I ran my first full marathon in 2016 and the weather was terrible, it was extremely hot. I feel that running is purely a mental game after mile 10 (my personal opinion) and if someone can get in the right mindset then they will cross that finish line. Also, I love your tip about treating yourself. . Reality therapy is always great!

    1. Congrats on your first marathon! Have you ran a second, and did it get easier?

      We’re giving ourselves a month or two before signing up for our next race, but what a challenge it was in the heat. Stay tuned for my recap, posting sometime this weekend. 🙂

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