OK – these top 5, top 10, top whatever lists are fun to put together. So here we go: here are my top 10 running mantras for long training runs…..
10. “Getting closer…” I use this one when I’m only 4-5 miles into a marathon. It’s supposed to keep me positive. Does it? Probably not – I have nine more below this one!
9. “Keep Calm and Carry On” I need a corny mantra – and this is it. It can be used at any time during the race. On a scale of 1-10, this mantra’s effectiveness is about a 3. So why do I use it? Because it’s English – and I say it with a British accent, which makes it fun. Completely shaggadelic.
8. “Slow is smooth, and smooth is fast.” I normally use this one when I’m working with my hands (painting, cooking, etc.). It works when I’m painting. Does it work when I’m running? Ummmmm……well…….let’s go to #7.
7. “Stored energy.” OK – seriously, I really do this one. I use it early in the marathon, when the crowds are cheering along the course and I want to speed up. Instead up going faster, I store up the energy that the crowd gives me and I maintain my steady pace.
6. “Elbows back.” This is one that I actually use all of the time. When I first began running, I didn’t swing my arms. Seriously. They hung from my sides like two logs of genoa salami hanging from the ceiling of an Italian deli on Arthur Avenue. Do you know how dumb that looks? Jog in place in front of a mirror without moving your arms. Yup – THAT’s how dumb I looked. My coaches have programmed me to make sure that I work on my arm swing, throwing my elbows back fluidly as my legs turnover. As your arms go, your legs go. Keep your arms moving and your legs will follow.
5. “Nope – not yet.” I wish I didn’t need this one, but I use it all too often. My head continuously tells my legs to slow down and walk for a bit. For me, momentum is everything – and if I walk I’m screwed. So every time The Tool (that’s the name I’ve given to all of my inner self-doubt and negativity) begins to tell me to slow down and walk, I quietly tell myself “nope – not yet”. It’s simple…and it works for me.
4. “Retreat hell.” That’s the motto of the 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines. The story goes that during World War I this battalion was sent to France to fight. During a fierce battle, a French commander told the battalion lieutenant to retreat. The lieutenant’s response: “Retreat? Hell, we just got here”. That’s the kind of attitude I need to have early on in the race. 21 miles left….17 miles left…..16 miles left…the course can make you feel like quitting. Retreat? Hell, I’m just getting started.
3. “Breath – don’t break.” I know. It’s simple. Not exactly motivational. But I actually need to remind myself to breath as deeply as I can, especially during the early stages of the marathon. If I focus on my breathing during a race, I can hold my pace for a much longer period of time. Once I get distracted – and that ALWAYS happens to me – my breaths get shorter and shorter. Then I get winded. Then – at some point – the race breaks me. I’ll learn to stay focused for the whole 26.2 distance at some point…but I’m not there yet. Lots of work to do.
2. “Facta non verba”. Oh yeah – that’s right – I’m busting out the Latin. Deeds – not words. This one works for me…plus it makes this Bronx kid sound slightly more educated when I’m mumbling this amid a pack of quicker runners.
1. “Focus and finish.” I use this for the last miles. It reminds me to dig deep – because that’s the only way to finish a marathon.
You run the first 10 miles with your body. The next 10 with your brain. And the last 10k is all heart.
Met Jeff Galloway twice this year thus far – he wrote a whole book on running motivation, which I really recommend. It’s called “Mental Training for Runners: How to Stay Motivated”.