17 Unusual Ways Marathon Runners Stay Motivated During Training

Marathon training is tough in anyone’s books. Whether you’re gunning for a sub-3:15 finish or just hoping to get round (even if it means getting beaten by a giant Womble), training for 26.2 is no easy task.


As your training plan hits the halfway point, your weekend long runs start to dominate the day. You feel like there’s barely any time to recover in the week. You’re even dreaming about running.


It’s important to keep your mindset strong at this challenging stage of training. Where your mind goes, your body will follow. If you think you can do it, and you feel positive and excited abut it, things will feel so much easier.


With that in mind, here are 17 different tried-and-tested ways to stay motivated with marathon training.


#1 A visible reminder

Print out your entry acceptance, screenshot the race logo and save it as your phone screen, or write “Marathon Day” and the date and stick it on your fridge. It doesn’t matter how you do it, but chose a visible and emotive reminder of your goal. Make sure it’s something that excites you rather than scares you!


#2 Buddy up

If you usually train alone, find a running partner for at least some of your weekly training runs. Running alone can be a wonderful break, but don’t underestimate the motivational factor of a friendly running buddy. If you enjoy the lonely miles, you can still keep some runs solo.


#3 Rewards

There’s nothing wrong with rewarding yourself for mini goals along the way! There are loads of lovely ways to give yourself a pat on the back. A new running playlist, a massage, a new bit of running kit, or maybe a meal out with someone special.


#4 Crunch the numbers

Don’t just track your training - look back at it, too. It’s really motivating to see how far you’ve come since the start of your marathon training plan. And, if this isn’t your first marathon, try comparing this year’s training to previous years. How have you improved?


#5 Plan your support crew

Who is coming to your marathon? Start getting excited - and motivated - by the thought of all the people who will be there to support you, cheer you on, and celebrate with you afterwards. If people are coming from further afield, maybe you can plan something fun for the evening or day after the race?


#6 Positive mantras

This one might sound a bit out there, but bear with us. Words are very powerful, especially when your mind’s focus has narrowed down to the rhythm of your feet, the beat of your heart, and the sound of your breath. So start developing positive mantras that you run through your mind when the going gets tough. It can be as simple as you like - and nobody else needs to know what it is.


#7 Powerful playlists

If you enjoy running with music, treat yourself to a few new playlists. Bonus points if you can design one that matches the duration of your long run. Bored of all your own music? Ask a friend to make you a playlist, or poll your social media friends for their personal favourite running track (who knows what you’ll end up with!)


#8 Other audio

Whilst we’re on the topic, don’t forget the numerous other audio choices out there. Spotify is great for music motivation. You could also check out podcasts or download an audiobook. Find something you can really lose yourself in, and the miles will fly by!


#9 Fuel up

Getting your nutrition right can keep you the right side of motivated. Pre https://projecte2.co.uk/products/pre-pre-work-out-drink is a pre-workout designed for endurance spots, with the ideal blend of amino acids, protein, carbs, and just enough caffeine. During your run, try Hydro Gels https://projecte2.co.uk/products/hydro-gel-plus-15-x-60g-raspberry-flavour-1 - or, if you need an extra boost - Energy Gels https://projecte2.co.uk/products/energy-gel-plus-15-x-38g-cola-flavour. After training, kick start recovery with Recover https://projecte2.co.uk/products/energy-gel-plus-15-x-38g-cola-flavour. Its blend of whey protein, fast acting carbs, electrolytes, Vitamin C, and digestive enzymes will help your body make the most of limited recovery time between training sessions.


#10 Plan a treat

If you struggle with a particular weekly run (the long run, the race-pace run, or the speed work) then design a really lovely evening for that day. Knowing that you will get home to a bath, a film, your favourite meal, or maybe one of our Energy Bars https://projecte2.co.uk/products/energy-bar-60g with a cuppa can turn the day around.


#11 Use races

You don’t have to do all your long runs alone. Why not look for 10Ks, 10 milers, half marathons, and even 20 mile races in your area? Doing some of your long runs as a race is exciting, motivating, and gives you the benefit of practicing race pace, race day nutrition, and logistics.


#12 Challenge yourself

If you’re the kind of person who enjoys ticking off a new goal, why not challenge yourself during some training runs? Try to do a negative split, or aim to reach a particular landmark in a slightly faster time. Keep it fun.


#13 Weekends away

Can you get away for the weekend? Plan a mini break into your marathon training and automatically freshen up your running. Exploring a new area, find new routes, see new sights, and break the routine of your every day training. Plus, if you’ve got family, a weekend away can be a small thank you to them for putting up with the marathon runner of the household!


#14 Running clubs

If you’re lucky enough to have a local running club, use it. Every running club will have a number of people training for a marathon, offering you a ready-made support system of like-minded running buddies. Some clubs will also be able to offer you track sessions, coaching, massage, physio, and social events.


#15 Stay positive

Sounds simple, but let’s not ignore the power of your mind. If you think your next run is going to be painful, boring, or difficult then it probably will be. But tell yourself it will be exhilarating, rewarding, and a positive step towards your goal and… you get the idea. Get used to mastering your mindset and take responsibility for your emotions. Aim for a relaxed mental state where everything feels like it’s flowing.


#16 Break it down

If your long runs are getting challenging, break them down into manageable chunks. This could be by time, by distance, or by breaking the route up into loops or chunks. Reward yourself for every section by having some sweets, a bit of Energy Bar https://projecte2.co.uk/products/energy-bar-60g, or one of your Hydro Gels https://projecte2.co.uk/products/hydro-gel-60g-pineapple-flavour.


#17 Visualise success

There’s a reason elite athletes use visualisation techniques in their training build-up: the brain actually doesn’t know the difference between what’s real and what is imagined. So use your training time to train your brain, too. Visualise a happy, successful, rewarding race day. Vividly imagine what your race will feel like. Imagine the sounds and sensations. The more often you can do this kind of positive visualisation, the more powerful it will be.


What are your best personal motivation techniques? Share them with us on our social media pages, or just check out other helpful hacks from Project E2 Nutrition on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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