The powers of the mind to achieve one’s goal in a marathon

Distribution of marathon finish times

Are you dreaming of conquering the marathon, breaking the barriers of 3 hours, 3h30, 4h, 4h30, or 5h?

Surprisingly, your chances of achieving a time just under 4 hours are statistically higher than missing it by a minute, according to a comprehensive study by researchers from the universities of Chicago and California. Analyzing the finish times of nearly 10 million participants across 6000 marathons worldwide from 2000 to 2013, they discovered intriguing patterns.

While the overall distribution of finish times appears bell-shaped, closer scrutiny reveals distinct peaks at 2:59, 3:29, 3:59, and 4:29. Fascinatingly, a marathoner is 1.4 times more likely to clock in at 3:59 than at 4:01. Lesser peaks also manifest at 3:09, 3:14, 3:19, 3:39, 3:44, or 3:49. Why, you ask?

A triumphant marathon is a feat of both physical endurance and strategic pacing

As fatigue sets in, most runners cover the final 2,195 km at an 8 to 10% slower pace than the initial 40 km. An exception lies with those who maintain a consistent pace throughout, showcasing the ability to transcend exhaustion and fulfill their goals without significant deceleration at the finish line.

In economic terms, success is often deemed worth the effort as long as the benefits outweigh the additional cost. Similarly, researchers propose that runners perceive the extra effort to achieve a 2:59 or 3:59 finish instead of 3:01 or 4:01 as worthwhile. This psychological boost contrasts starkly with the disappointment of narrowly missing a goal, fostering a sense of accomplishment and paving the way for success in future attempts.

Remember, persistence is key. Armed with enhanced preparation and strategic race management, you too can conquer your marathon goals.

Have you experienced the thrill of success by mere seconds, or have you, on the contrary, fallen short by a hair’s breadth?

A median stopwatch on a 4:17 marathon

It’s noteworthy that the median time for these 10 million finishers is 4:17, indicating that half of the participants complete their marathon in under 4:17.

To elevate your chances of success in your next marathon, a personalized training plan is crucial. You can dowload the RunMotion Coach application, which offers a program tailored to your weekly availability, fitness level, and desired finish time. Additionally, the app provides mental preparation exercises, ensuring you approach the timing barrier with a resilient mindset. Embrace the power of your mind to break through limits and achieve marathon greatness!

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Mailis Durif-VarambonMailis grew up in the mountains, where she went hiking and biking every weekend. She loves outdoor activities where she can relax at the end of the day. At RunMotion Coach, she is responsible for communication management.