The endurance runner mindset

Chris James Smith
4 min readApr 12, 2021
Author photo, Brighton Marathon

Scaling from 5k to my first marathon a few years back was an incredible journey. It involved beating injuries, developing a new daily routine, managing pain and completely changing my mindset. Because it was quite possibly the most mentally and physically demanding thing I’d ever done at the time. But also the most rewarding.

The physical side of running long distances is obviously a critical part of the process and gets spoken about a lot, but, for me, it was the mental side that I found most challenging — maintaining training motivation, getting up early to fit runs in, not giving up, and managing the niggles and tweaks in your body.

As I’m currently training for my first 100k Ultra marathon, I wanted to reflect back on my learnings from the final 6.2 miles of the marathon distance. These are the miles where it’s all about mindset. And they are the most brutal miles you will face. It’s also why the marathon is so special. They make or break you.

Learnings from the last 6.2 marathon miles

Once you reach mile 20 of the marathon, it’s more of a mental battle than a physical one. Those miles are designed to break you, physically and mentally.

Every step you take is painful, but the finish line is in sight. It’s the reminder of the reward that gets you through…