“If you don’t rule your mind, your mind will rule you. That’s the way I think about this sport.” – Eliud Kipchoge.
If you are going to take advice from anyone when it comes to marathon running, the world record holder seems like a good place to begin. On the 16th September 2018, Eliud Kipchoge made the history books as he ran 26.2 miles in 2 hours, 1 minute and 29 seconds. Kipchoge emphasizes the mental aspect involved in marathon running in many of his interviews. With that in mind, the Mankato Marathon was an exciting time for the sport psych club here at Minnesota State University, Mankato. The marathon always proves to be an experience that captivates the entire community with events for people of all ages and levels from the toddler trot to the main event and the club was looking forward to using this opportunity to consult with individuals and help them mentally prepare after their tough physical preparation in the last few months.
The Scheels Sport and Health Expo took place on Saturday 20th October and allowed our team to interact with individuals who had travelled from all over the country to take on what is deemed ‘the Midwest’s boldest race’. There is no doubt that marathon running is one of the most challenging physical and mental tasks an individual can face. For those of us that have not taken on the challenge, it seems like one that should be left to the bravest of the brave. This was a great experience for our team as we were able to interact with people who have completed several marathons and learn about what drives them through 26.2 miles. We spoke with one athlete who had completed a marathon in all 50 states! We also used this opportunity to practice some of our skills such as helping athletes create a pre-race routine, reframing those negative thoughts, and staying motivated by using power statements.
Sunday 21st October was the day these individuals had been working towards for many weeks and months. This is when the ‘Psychs on Bikes’ kicked into gear. While our goal was to help each, and every individual achieve their goal, watching these athletes step up and drive forward through a grueling course was inspiring to us. The sports psych club members watched as the marathon leader crushed every single mile (clocking in at 2:37:17. WOW) and cycled alongside individuals of all ages and abilities as they moved to the finish line. For many of our first years, this was our first experience being involved in a marathon and we were unsure as to how we could support the competitors, but we found that 26.2 miles is a long distance to go alone so simply riding alongside someone was a great comfort to them. Many of the competitors joked that they would love to swap their running shoes for our bikes, but we knew that they were determined to finish what they started. For our second years, last years marathon helped them understand what these individuals needed and one of our team members rode alongside the last (but in no way any less impressive) runner for an amazing 9 hours.
This was an experience to remember as we saw a bare-foot runner, families, and people from young to not so young complete one of the world’s most grueling tasks and ruled their mind this weekend. All we can say is congratulations and thank you for letting us be part of your day.