Ty Velde | Marathon Training

Will you be mentally ready for the Boston Marathon?

Newton, MA- April 17, 2017: Runners begin their climb up Heartbreak Hill on Commonwealth Avenue in Newton, MA, on April 17, 2017. It is the 121st running of the Boston Marathon, a 26.2-mile journey from Hopkinton to Copley Square. (Globe staff photo / Craig F. Walker) section: metro reporter
Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff
Runners begin their climb up Heartbreak Hill in the 2017 Boston Marathon.

I’m sure you have been logging many training miles to ensure that you’re physically prepared for the Boston Marathon, which is now less than six weeks away. But it’s also key that you make sure that you’re getting mentally prepared as well.

They are not mutually exclusive, and in fact are very much intertwined.

But how do you know that come race day, your mind has truly been trained and is ready to run this race? It comes down to developing three key mindsets.

Mental strength


Mental strength is developed through preparation and planning. It’s about reflecting on what you have done and accomplished to-date and having the ability to look ahead with a sense of excitement and eager anticipation.

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I build mental strength throughout the course of my entire training program. I think about all the early mornings, cold temperatures, and adverse weather conditions I have endured. This gives me strength to look at what I still need to do in the coming weeks, and view it something that I am ready, able, and willing to tackle.

Mental toughness

If there is one thing that breeds anxiety when preparing for race day, it’s the fear of the unknown. How will my body react under the stress of running 26.2 miles? How will I feel when running up Heartbreak? What will the weather be like?

Mental toughness is developed through rising up to the challenges and adverse situations that greet us all on the road to Boston.

I develop mental toughness by leaving my comfort zone. It’s built during those dark, snowy morning runs, when I could have stayed in bed. It’s built when I’ve forced myself to run in the pouring rain, instead waiting for the sun come out. It’s built through hill workouts and interval training.


A foundation of experience enables me to view the challenges associated with running Boston as things to be embraced, not feared.


Ultimately, what strength and toughness breed is confidence. Confidence comes from logging the miles. Confidence comes from overcoming adversity and meeting the challenge.

It’s important to realize that developing the confidence to run Boston is something that must built. This comes with each run I do and each training experience.

I was recently in Wyoming and I was forced to train at an altitude of 6,400 feet in some very unfamiliar territory. While it was certainly much different than training at home here in Boston, instead of being concerned, I viewed this as an opportunity to challenge myself and do some high altitude running.

While it was certainly tough, completing these training runs were also a huge confidence booster. It’s also a training experience I can build upon that I know will give me confidence on my forthcoming long runs and most definitely on race day.


Think about what you have done to build your mental strength. Think about the challenges you have met to build your mental toughness. Most importantly think about the confidence you have built based on what you have done to-date and how you are now ready to tackle what is still to come.

Ty Velde is a 15-time Boston Marathon finisher who writes about running and marathon training. This is part of an occasional series.