Over the eight weeks’ final build up to the London Marathon I’m blogging some ideas you can use to stay on track and ensure your mind is as prepared for the marathon as your body is. This post, with four weeks to go, suggests you spend some time deciding which distraction technique will work for you.

As you may have discovered during your long runs, sometimes you have a bad day. Your legs hurt, your motivation is through the floor and you wonder if getting round 26.2 miles is realistic. When you have this horrible run, instead of feeling your heart sink, think of it as a great opportunity to practice how you will overcome the bad periods you will go through in the marathon. For many people the distraction technique works well.

You may already have a distraction technique you use when you want to take your mind off how many more miles you still have to go, or off the soreness emanating from your legs. There are hundreds of ways to do this and we each have our own preference. When I have asked athletes what they use I am always struck by how varied the responses are.  Here are a bunch that I’ve seen athletes use and have found successful.

  • Counting up to 100 and back down again in another language
  • Writing your race report in your head
  • Thanking every volunteer marshal
  • Creating a list of 26 things
  • Thinking of the perfect tweet to summarise your race
  • Planning your post race treat
  • Finding someone who is running the same pace as you and chatting to them
  • Making up the story of the person running in front of you
  • Breaking the distances down that you have left into distance you know you have no problem in running: ‘just 2 parkruns to go’
  • And my favourite: Create a competition in your head for the best banner you have see

Whatever your distraction is it will take your mind off your body and focus your brain on something else, helpfully meaning when you click back into the marathon you are further down the road towards the finish.