Keep Calm & Carry ON: Mental Strength and the Marathon

This post is in collaboration with The Sports Edit – however I am donating my fee to Teenage Cancer Trust, the official charity partner of this year’s London Marathon. Find out more below.

ON running The Sports Edit

As we walked through the park during the last few miles on the Paris marathon on Sunday, Loz and I had a talk about mental strength.

Personally, I think the last 6 miles of the marathon are run with your head. It’s the point at which your inner voice might start to tell you to slow down, give up, stop running.

But it’s also the time where you can shout down that voice, keep pushing and make it to the end. (I had to shout down Loz’s inner voice in Paris, but I totally believe that you can develop your mental strength to help you achieve your marathon/endurance goals.

ON running The Sports Edit

Your 12-16 week training cycle builds more than just physical strength and endurance. Every time you chose to get up rather than snooze your alarm, or swapped a night out for a night in and a long run, or when you pushed through your workout despite horrid weather conditions… you were building your mental strength.

Training yourself to push through when you don’t want to when the stakes are low (one missed workout doesn’t make or break a training cycle) helps develop your ability to talk yourself around when the stakes are high. You need to practice pushing through a hard rep, getting up when you don’t want to or drawing on your willpower by saying no to that last drink at dinner before a long run. The more you practice in

It’s true, marathon training this winter was rough. We had to run through multiple snow storms, weeks where it never stopped raining, sicknesses and travel. If you made it through – well done! And you’ve probably already added a lot to that bank of mental strength to draw on during the race.

I use mantras to push through, it might sound a bit lame but they really work for me. In Tokyo it was ‘Never stop fighting’ and ‘You can do hard things’. Find one that resonates with you and that you think could help.

Remember why you’re running. If you have someone you’re running in memory of or a charity to raise money for. I’m working with the Teenage Cancer Trust this year for the London marathon (they’re the official Charity of the race this year) They provide specialised nursing and emotional support for young people aged 13-24 with cancer (currently they are only able to provide support for half of the young people with cancer due to budgets) so if you need a good cause to raise funds for or something important to think about when the going gets tough… you can find out more www.teenagecancertrust.org.

ON running The Sports Edit

Stay positive. Things go wrong on race day, whether it’s that you drop one of your gels, you have to stop to tie your shoe laces, you’re running late on race morning… It won’t all be perfect. Try to smile, think positively and focus on the things that are going right.

Similarly, you can think back to all those runs that went well. The workouts where you smashed your paces or felt so strong. The days where the run felt effortless. Channel those feelings and remind yourself that you’re still that person, and draw on those memories. 

ON running The Sports Edit

I had a lot of questions about the ON shoes I was wearing in an instagram post a couple of weeks ago so when The Sports Edit emailed me to see if I wanted to collaborate to test out the Cloudflow I was very keen. It seems like ON Running are the running shoe brand of the moment, I’ve seen them pop up all over the place, from the Rich Roll podcast to the Tokyo Marathon Expo. So I was excited to give them a proper testing to share my verdict…

I’ll start by saying, I was nervous about the high back of the shoe. I’ve had issues before with other trainers that rub my achillies and create blisters, and I was concerned that these would do the same. But I had no issues at all!

ON running The Sports Edit

ON Running Shoe The Sports Edit

The two most striking things about these shoes; the weight and the unique cushioning system.

They only weigh 190g (that is SERIOUSLY light!). Perfect for those active travel plans when you want to keep the packing weight to a minimum, and should help you when you’re running fast or completing speed workouts. I haven’t taken these to a track yet but have tested them on the treadmill for some intervals (when it was raining outside and I chicken out of running in the wet!).

The cloud pods are designed to help you bounce back up from the ground, with the different sizes designed to give you an even push off the ground and spring off the forefoot. The ON team describe it as ‘a cushioned landing, firm take off’. There’s reinforced rubber on the heel for those of you, that like me, tend to heel strike when we’re tired or running looong, as well as in the forefoot. I tend to change my gait depending on whether I’m doing a speed workout (where I’m more forefoot) or long (more heel strike) so I appreciate that they’ve reinforced both areas.

ON Running Shoe The Sports Edit

On that note, I think these shoes are seriously versatile. You can run your 400m repeats, your tempo run, your half marathon and your full marathon in them. They’re light enough for speed, bouncy enough for the tempo and hard wearing/durable enough for the long distance. (In 2017 the Ironman world record was recorded in a pair of ON Cloudflows! Makes sense since one of the founders, Olivier, is a multi Ironman winner).

The shoes look quite narrow, however, even with my wide feet I had no problem and felt both well held by the upper and tongue, but with enough room for my feet to expand over a long distance run without rubbing/blisters.

ON have four core beliefs;

From focus on correction to focus on experience and comfort… focusing on running as fun, and moving the way you were meant to without correction. It provides cushioning where you need it to help delay fatigue.

From one best way to run to billions of ways to run… freedom for your feet, putting you in control of your running motion.

– From a look at the ankle to a look at the whole body… prioritising forward momentum.

 From a diagnosis for life to an evolution over time…adapting to your individual stage of running to support your training and propel you to the next level. 

On running shoe from The Sports Edit

I can’t wait to wear the Cloudflow more over the next few months, to see how easily they transition from track, to road, to trail (although the only negative feedback I’ve heard is that little rocks can get caught in the cloud pods and are quite difficult to get out).

If you’re looking for a running shoe that will work for all of your mileage, I think these could be the one! They’re available from The Sports Edit for £119.95. This colour way is my fave, it’s the  Dawn and Jade. I think they’re so pretty and make such a difference from the usual girly pink shoe options.

Personally I’d wear it with the new range from PE Nation…seriously lusting after it!

4 Comments

  1. April 12, 2018 / 12:37 pm

    Great post! I love the idea of the ON Cloudflow and I’d love to test them out but I just imagine a stone getting stuck in them every 10 minutes and having to stop ad flick it out… I’ll wait and see what you verdict is with further wear!
    I’m definitely learning more and more that running is a mental game and I’m finding in my longer runs that repeating song lyrics is getting me through (and keeping my pace consistent!) – love your run happy vest by the way!

    Rachel

  2. April 12, 2018 / 8:57 pm

    ON Cloudflow seem to be the shoes of the moment right now! They’ve really taken off recently and I’m slight gutted that my pair don’t fit any more after all the work I’ve done on my foot stability! My only gripe is how expensive they are, although they are engineered to the nth degree x

  3. April 13, 2018 / 3:19 am

    great thoughts on mental toughness. i totally feel you.

  4. April 16, 2018 / 10:42 am

    I recently swapped from Nike to On, and got a pair of Cloudventures for the winter. I tried a pair of Cloudflows on in the shop and was really impressed. I think I’ll probably get a pair this summmer! Good luck for London!

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