7 Brain Hacks To Help You Smash Any Half Marathon

Are you running the Cardiff Half Marathon this Sunday? Or do you have any other races coming up? I’ve got some handy mental games that you can use to help get you through the tougher/darker moments of your race!

I’ve been running the Cardiff Half for several years now. However, even with all the experience I still find the last few miles to be an absolute killer. I get through it though by using some nifty little mind games and tricks which I want to share with you today.

I found some of these really useful at the Cardiff Half Marathon last year, in fact, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have hit my 1:30 target without some of these mind tricks! My goal is to beat 1:30 on Sunday so I will definitely be making use of these during the race.

Why not try them, and let me know how you get on?

1. Pick Them Off

Pick a person in front of you, say 50 metres away and tell yourself you can overtake them. Overtake that person, then pick another person and repeat. This is a trick that I like to use
particularly towards the end of the race when it gets uncomfortable running at your target pace. Keeping your brain busy by playing games will help you forget about the pain/discomfort

2. Pain is Temporary Failure Lasts Forever!

Remember that quote and remind yourself when you get that feeling of being uncomfortable when you are going all out trying to stay on pace but your body is screaming at you to stop!
Just tell yourself, that feeling is only temporary and will disappear as soon as you cross the finish line.
If you are anything like me you will be torturing yourself for months if you cross the finish line knowing you could have pushed further! On another note, however, get to know your body – know the difference between an injury and discomfort.
You can often push through discomfort, don’t push through an injury.

3. Break the race into small increments

It can be daunting starting a half marathon, for example, knowing that you’ve got 13 miles to run, or in the case of a marathon 26! I like to break down a race into smaller chunks.
Get to know the route if you’ve got time before the race, pick out certain landmarks and focus on reaching a particular landmark. Then the next, then the next. Repeat that process throughout the race to make the entire distance a lot more manageable. This works even for micro distances like getting from one lampost from the next. It’s a lot less daunting that way!

4. Your Body Can Do More!

Our brains are naturally set up to put the brakes on when we get uncomfortable during a workout or if it thinks there may be danger on the way. This may stem back to when we were all cavemen/women and danger was always lurking! You can override these thoughts.

Usually, we have a lot more left in the tank than we think we do! Get to know your limits and try pushing that little bit further during training and during your race when your brain starts telling you to stop. Don’t give into those thoughts. You’ll be surprised how much further you can go!

5. Think about your training

No doubt that uncomfortable feeling that you feel towards the end of the race is not new. You’ve experienced it before and it didn’t kill you or render you injured! Think about a training session or a previous race where you felt like this and pushed through it. You’ve been there before so you can do it again!

6. Imagine you are an elite athlete

Something I often do when I am trying to increase my cadence for example or trying to increase my pace is to picture what one of the front-runners would look like running at that cadence or pace.
Then imagine you are that person, and put yourself in their place. Imagine what they would look like running at that cadence or pace, and what they would be feeling.

7. That feeling when you finish!

Imagine how you are going to feel when you smash your PB at the end of the race. How proud you are going to feel about yourself. How proud your family and friends are going to be!
Personally, I think of my boys, and how they will be proud of their dad and what I’ve achieved. Hopefully, it will motivate them to do the same!

Good luck in your race. If you are running Sunday don’t let the rain bother you, skin is waterproof remember! I may see you there, come say hello if you see me!

Cardiff Half Finish Gareth


Written By: Gareth

I'm a full qualified PT with a number of OCR's on my CV including the legendary winter Tough Guy. Also a former Light Heavyweight Kickboxing Champion and Black Belt! You'll usually find me over Roath Rec beasting training the guys to help them overcome their obstacles :D


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