It’s All In Your Head

Coming through the Snoqualmie Tunnel

A marathon is a 26.2 mile race.  And most people, when discussing a marathon fixate on the distance.

“I could never run that far, I can’t even drive that far.”

“Why would you want to do that to your body?”

But the other day I ran into a principal at my son’s school and as we shared summer trips I mentioned I had just run a marathon a few days’ prior.  And she said to me “Wow, you probably have to dig really deep to run that far”.  After our conversation I realize that I’d never been asked that before.

There’s a famous quote from Yogi Berra “90% of baseball is mental.  The other 50% is physical.”  Same goes for marathons.  You are alone with your thoughts for a very long time and those thoughts can make or break your run.

Being a marathon runner means you’re in your head a lot.   You hear voices telling you to stop.  Telling you to quit.  Telling you that there’s no way you can run another 15 miles.  Then you start talking to yourself.  You’ve got this.  You can do this.  One mile at a time.  One step at a time.

Being able to use tricks, strategies and other mind-games is a vital component for finishing a marathon.  Here are a few things that I used to get me through my recent marathon.

Plan Ahead

I sat quietly and rehearsed the race.  And wrote down some notes;  when to fuel, to take walk breaks, when to give myself a pep talk and also identifying how to deal when the going got tough.

  • Get through the 2 1/2 mile tunnel that starts the race.
  • Let my legs do their thing.
  • Don’t freak out over the heat; stay hydrated and fueled.
  • The pace will be what the pace will be.  It’s all good.

Live in the Moment

Mindful Meditation has been helpful in getting me through some pretty bad anxiety (health anxiety, panic attacks, etc.)  in the past year so I decided to take my practice off the cushion and into the race.

For example, at mile 21 I focused on what it was like at mile 21; the sensation, the thoughts and also looking around and noting what was around me.  NOT future forecasting (oh, such growth) and looking ahead to see what mile 22 or 25 would bring.  #headspace

Trust me, while it wasn’t a perfect plan, I was able to get through the scary dark tunnel and through the later miles in a better (head) space.

Acknowledge the Discomfort (But Don’t Dwell)

In races in the past I’ve been surprised that things hurt and I feel like crap at certain mile markers.  It’s that glass half-full thing that I do so well.

But in reality, you are running 26.2 miles and odds are, it’s gonna hurt at some point.

I worked hard to acknowledge and accept this fact.  “Wow, look how many miles I’ve run, it’s not surprising that my legs are tired.  I’ll fuel up at mile 21, grab water and walk for a few minutes.  I’ve got this.”    In the past, admittedly I’d be like “WTF?” and start to spin.

Enjoy the Ride

My main goal was to simply run the race and finish my 11th marathon. And crossing that finish line is always so freaking amazing.  Plus, there’s the medal.


Funny that marathons are kind of like life.  You have highs.  You have lows.   But you don’t just quit and give up, right?  One step at a time my friends, one step at a time.  You can do anything.

Now go run!

Keli 🙂


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