When you run a marathon there are two key aspects that can greatly impact performance - the training you have completed in preparation and secondly your mental state.
A recent study found 88% of 483 marathon runners to report using self-talk which indicates this to be a common practice (Van Raalte et al 2015).
WHAT IS IT?
Even though you may not know it you are already practicing this technique!
Self-talk is known as the inner dialog that is influenced by the subconscious mind, the voice that says things that you might not say out loud. Most of the time we are not aware of the constant commentary going on, but this self-talk can have a massive impact on how we feel or perform. It reveals your questions, beliefs and thought pattern. This can rather work for you or against you depending on your practice.
There are three main categories of self-talk:
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
Self-talk is something we all naturally do! Therefore, we should learn to actively cultivate it and reap in the rewarding benefits. Especially as during a run the only conversation going on will be in your own mind with yourself. So be your biggest motivator.
Research suggests it to be a powerful tool when used right. Individuals who have mastered positive self-talk are thought to withhold increased focus, confidence, and motivation. The perfect combination to successfully combat a marathon.
HOW TO CHANGE IT?
There are many ways to better self-talk but start by following one simple rule: Do not let the inner voice be your biggest saboteur say no to anything you would not let someone else say to you, be gentle and nice to yourself.
Other approaches also include:
Listening closely to your inner critic and watch out for negative self-talk statements. Identify what you want to change about this voice.
Evaluate it rationally and respond with what is good about the situation or yourself. Try to eliminate unneeded negative internal chatter.
Take a moment to reflect on what you have said to yourself during today’s training. Was it critical and harsh? Or was it kind and helpful? How did you feel after engaging with your inner voice?