Everyone needs some mantras to get through the long runs. Here are mine, going in order from 10 to 1, just like David Letterman. These work for me, but try to come up with inspiring thoughts that work for you.
10. Getting closer- count down to 26.2: I use this one when I’m only 4-5 miles into a marathon. It’s supposed to keep me positive. Does it? Usually not. I’m just lying to myself.
9. Keep Calm, Carry On: This is my corny mantra. It can be used at any time during the race. On a scale of 1-10 with 6 being the highest, this mantra’s effectiveness is about a 3. So why do I use it? Because I say it with a British accent, which makes it fun.
8. Store the energy: This is good for when the crowds are cheering along the course. I mentally store the energy that the crowd gives me for when I really need it.
7. Elbows back: When I first began running, my arms hung from my sides like two logs of Genoa salami hanging from the ceiling of an Italian deli on Arthur Avenue. My TFK coaches have programmed me to make sure that I work on my arm swing, throwing my elbows back fluidly as my legs turnover. Keep your arms moving and your legs will follow.
6. Nope – not yet: This is the message I send my legs when they are tired and want to walk. If I start to walk I’m screwed. So when my inner negativity starts up, I tell myself “nope – not yet”.
5. Retreat, hell: That’s the motto of the 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines in WW1 during a fierce battle in France. A French commander told the battalion lieutenant to retreat. The lieutenant’s response: “Retreat? Hell, we just got here.”
4. Breathe – don’t break: I actually need to remind myself to breathe, especially during the early stages of the marathon when I am excited. If I focus on my breathing during a race, I can hold my pace for a much longer period of time.
3. Facta non-verba: Deeds, not words. Like a good Fordham graduate, I’m busting out the Latin. This one works for me…plus it makes this Bronx kid sound slightly more educated when I’m mumbling this at mile 20.
2. Do it for the kids: I use this in the last six miles when I need something motivational to get me through. I think of how fortunate I have been in my life and how little they have and I know how much running will change their lives. Plus some of them are faster than me, which makes me push harder!
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!