Seven Habits of Successful Marathon Runners

If this fall is going to be your best 26.2 you’ll need to adapt strategies that will add to your miles and workouts so you get more out of your running goals. Looking beyond long runs, workouts and nutrition is what makes the best runners reach their full potential.

By studying psychology and sociology in the book Peak Performance: Elevate Your Game, Avoid Burnout, and Thrive with the New Science of Success the authors were able to uncover strategies in addition to physical traits that make the best runners.

The 7 following strategies will take you from a good athlete to a great athlete and take your running one step further.

1. Find your purpose

Find your inspiration for what makes you run. Your brain will shut down before your body reaches its physical limits, but by having your why in the right place you can overcome this mental barrier. When we think about our core values and reflect on them we can persist through much more. If we think about our strong beliefs, we are able to rise above the in-the-moment concerns and disconnect from the perceived limits of our body.

Why? What is your why? Find out why you are running and keep that in your mind. As simple or complex as your reason is just find your reason. Reflect on your reason on the tougher days to get you through.

2. Find your sweet spot

The best performers improve by continuously pushing their limits. This growth-promoting stress is good for athletes wanting to improve. Find that spot that makes you feel a little bit out of control but nothing that pushes you way out of your limits. You want to find the challenge that lies just on the other side of your current ability.

Find a training plan or set a goal that is just a little bit outside of your comfort zone. If you are always hitting your target than you need to set your sights a little higher. This should not be easy, you should struggle and it should be work to finish each training session.

3. Warm up your body and mind

If you’re not in a great mood than your body will follow that. Even subtle mood influencers can alter performance. Making sure your mind is in a good place can truly alter your performance.

Listen to your favorite music, spend time outside, find a running buddy and stay clear of negative vibes. Reduce the stress in life and avoid the people who bring you down. Do what you need to do to feel your best.

4. Choose less

Making decisions wears us out. Having multiple options uses up our limited reserve of mental energy. Many successful people like Mark Zuckerberg have a “uniform” because it frees up their mind for so many other things rather than simply making tedious decisions. Make things simple for yourself.

There are things you can do that won’t burn so much energy just planning and scheduling. If you can get a coach they will handle all of the planning for you. Have your prerace plan in place and your prerace meal ready. Try to automate as much of your training as you can.

5. Practice Calm Conversations

Don’t let your emotionally charges thoughts affect your physical state. If you are thinking about the pain you feel it can cause tense muscles and an elevated heart rate and this is turn will cause weaker performance. Being able to talk to yourself in a painful state and calm yourself down will make you a better runner. Elite runners are able to transition from stress to rest better than average runners. As your effort and pain levels increase practice accepting it not fighting it. The pain is a sign that you are doing the work that will make you better.

6. Follow stress with rest

If we never take easy periods we are never able to go all out. Follow hard training with days that recover and restore your body.

Too much stress will lead to injury and burnout and too much rest will lead to a failure to improve. By finding the right balance of the two we get the “growth equation”.

7. Reframe race day nerves

Know how to channel your stress effectively. Stress should be an aid to your performance and not as a negative. Understand how to use your stress to aid your performance.

View the feelings in a positive light and they are more likely to positively affect your performance.