how to train your brain

The week before your marathon is here and you've been training your body for months. But what about your brain? Chicago educator Gina asked our ambassador Lizzi Edwards for three things you can do that'll help you get your head in the race, too.

My eyes are closed but my mind races. I am seeing more with my eyes shut than if they were open. I see the future – to do’s, lists, finish lines. I see the past – mistakes, old habits, long training runs with pauses to cry in the middle. I’m in marathon training taper mode and not only is my body restless but my mind is too. Lucky for me, Lizzi Edwards, yoga ambassador at lululemon Rush Street in Chicago, is here to help me (and you!) filter those thoughts and use them to my competitive advantage.

Here are three mental techniques from Lizzi that'll turn crossing-the-finish-line dreams into realities!

1. visualization

Imagine yourself during your marathon. Add as much detail as you can do this imaging. What are you wearing? What kind of shoes do you have on? What did you eat for breakfast? Who is there supporting you? What sights, sounds and smells fill your senses? The more realistic you can get with your imagination, the more effective it becomes.

2. positive self talk

Self talk is the internal dialog that you have with yourself. Using ‘I am’ statements translate into a powerful reality. Lizzi’s advice rings so true: Take a moment and acknowledge where you go when that evil voice creeps into your head. Now create a declaration and say/chant/scream out loud, "I am strong. I am a marathoner. I am accomplished". Write the declaration on your arm, on your forehead, wherever you need to so you always remember that your evil voice is full of crap!

Gina and her declaration.

3. relaxation

As the yogis tell us, Prana (life force) travels on the breath. As you inhale, you bring fresh, new Prana into your being, as you exhale, you let go of whatever you no longer need. If you can control your breath, you can control your mind. Here’s how to practice: with eyes closed, count to two on each inhale and two on each exhale. As you get tired, exhale more. Try in for two, out for three, four, many as is comfortable.

After practicing Lizzi’s tips, I know that not only is my body is ready to handle 26.2 miles, but my mind is ready too. #iamamarathoner.

join us for a pre-marathon visualization

Ambassador Lizzi will be leading pre-marathon meditation on Oct. 4

If you’re joining us in the Windy City for this year’s Chicago Marathon, stop by North Avenue Beach just north of the Boat House on Thursday, October 4 at 6:00 pm for a one hour visualization/stretch session with Lizzi. See you there!

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Love this! Great advice and column!!

Comment by Soraya F — October 1, 2012 @ 7:10 pm

What a great topic! And beautiful writing. It really goes to show you how important the mental side of things are when doing anything in life – including running.

Comment by Dan — October 2, 2012 @ 8:10 am

Love this article & extra push of motivation! Headed to Chicago for my 1st major marathon. I am strong, I will succeed!

Comment by Anne-Marie — October 2, 2012 @ 8:44 am

Love, love, love this! Such great inspiration from these two beautiful women! Well said, Gina and Lizzie!! I will apply these thoughts to any of my endeavors–whether it is a long run or a 100 mile bike ride!!

Comment by Anita — October 2, 2012 @ 11:37 am

I love this and will be sharing on my FB page! Sounds like an awesome event. I wrote about the value of visualization and creating a positive mantra a few weeks ago. Please check it out if you have time! Thanks:) Good luck to everyone running the marathon this week!

Comment by Maureen — October 3, 2012 @ 5:10 pm

Always inspiring. It is so mental, these tips are great. Although I’ll be spectating this year, next year I might have to lace up for this awesome event and am hoping lots of runners see this and take it as pieces of awesome motivation from some seriously awesome girls.

Comment by Jen — October 3, 2012 @ 5:59 pm

This is a great thing to look to especially #2.I found it really nice and calm to just look back to when I have time or when your just stressed out.this is so awesome!!

Comment by nikita — October 6, 2012 @ 8:10 pm

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