Three-time Commonwealth Games marathon runner and Gold Coast marathon ambassador Pat Carroll has two important pieces of advice for Inside Sport and those of you out there who are considering taking on their first marathon – don’t think about it and don’t talk about it.
Don’t think about it
“When you’re fired up for a marathon, you have all this adrenaline going through you, you’re a bit edgy, little things may upset you that normally wouldn’t, because you’re just so focussed on the big day. The marathon is something you spend a lot of energy preparing for. Then the big day finally arrives: you’re like Jeff Horn hopping into the ring. A marathon is no different. There is a fair bit of pressure. The night before, as cliche as it sounds, most people aren’t going to sleep much because they’re thinking about the next day. So just be prepared for that.
“Looking back on my career, it did start to get the better of me in my elite career, the race day: the anxiety, adrenaline … I often found I was a little bit wasted by the time I got to the start line. So I invented a bit of a trapdoor in my brain so that if any thoughts of the race started circling around or entered my mind about the marathon, I’d just close the door and think about something else; the implications of thinking about it would start to engulf me and make me feel anxious. When you’re out on your solo long runs or whatever, THAT is when you think about it.”
And don’t talk about it
“I used to travel with Steve Moneghetti and those guys, Deek … We’d run events like World Cross Country, Commonwealth Games. We never used to talk about running. We’d socialise on the days leading in, on the morning of, but not once would I have had a conversation with any of them about what they were going to do in the race or how they were feeling about it or whatever. In a way, we were just sort-of chatting about general crap. Just taking our minds away from what was about to come. We’d play cards, muck around, do stupid kids’ stuff … grown adults acting like kids. What we were actually doing was trying to take our minds off what we were about to get into. We all knew deep down that once that gun went off, we were into it. That’s when the mongrel comes out. That’s when you put everything into play.”