The Mental Marathoner

SRY_Dr Marcus Tan

Question: What goes through your mind when you are running? Do you have a tactic that you have developed over time to help you focus and keep going?

Soh Rui Yong:
I think it’s normal to have doubts and insecurities headed into a marathon. It’s normal. Doubting the training, doubting your injuries and weaknesses, doubting the weather. I was probably most afraid before my first marathon, but thankfully I ran well there and after that, I knew my body could handle the training and the demands of racing a marathon.

It’s important to take the training one day at a time, and trust the process. Apply the same concept on race day – work out a plan based on your physical capabilities and logic, not emotion. Stick to that plan on race day, and run it one km at a time. Break the race down into smaller goals, and focus on the process, rather than the eventual outcome.

I usually get to the halfway point right on what I plan to run, but it’s from halfway to the end that things get real tough. Be grateful for how far you’ve come, but brace yourself for what’s coming and be prepared to weather the storm.

At 32km, it’s make or break time. Put your head down and start racing, you’re so close to the end! This is really the halfway point of the marathon, as the final 10km can be as hard as the first 32km. It will take all your willpower to keep on pace.

By the 40km mark, everyone is in pain. Just put your head down and pump those arms. Glory awaits!

Every marathon finished is a victory worth celebrating. Enjoy!

 

Expert’s Advice:
Dr Marcus Tan, Consultant Psychiatrist, Nobel Psychological Wellness Clinic (A member of the Healthway Medical Group)

Endurance events or races, in general, apart from being physically demanding, are also psychologically challenging.

As the event progresses, one often must battle negative thoughts and emotions such as fear and anxiety, while fighting physical fatigue and pain at the same time. Perhaps it is this combination of challenges that are making endurance events increasingly popular.

Apart from seeing oneself transform physically and mentally over the course of training, one also gets a tremendous sense of satisfaction and achievement after having completed a race.

There is really no “best” method when it comes to helping one go through training or during a race/ event.  It is about finding the one method or a combination of methods that would help the person the most.

I tend to think that the simplest techniques are usually the easiest to apply and most effective. To me, these include using only positive words or rephrasing negative thoughts into more encouraging ones, celebrating each small milestone or achievement that happens during training or the race. And most important of all, keeping that smile on your face.

Each race is but part of the journey for most of us. Let us forget about the timing or placing – that is just a part of the descriptive, and sometimes the intangible does outweigh the tangible. Be it in a road race or life, the only person we truly need and want to outrun, is ourselves.

 

About the Expert:
Dr Marcus Tan is one of the founding psychiatrists at Nobel Psychological Wellness Clinic where he practises. Apart from clinical duties, he also concurrently holds the appointment of Head, Specialist Care at Healthway Medical Group. He runs regularly and enjoys especially late night or early morning long runs in quiet places whenever he can.

Find more information from: http://www.singaporepsychiatrists.com/dr-marcus-tan-consultant-psychiatrist/

Rui Yong Soh

Rui Yong Soh

Soh Rui Yong is a two-time SEA Games marathon gold medallist and has now set his sights on qualifying for the 2020 Olympic Games. Follow him on Instagram: @runsohfast.
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