The Psychological Strategy I Used to Take 100 Minutes Off My Marathon Time

Hey there! I just flew home from Portland, Oregon yesterday, after an energizing-yet-completely-exhausting weekend at Chris Guillebeau’s World Domination Summit.  I hung out with 499 amazing people for the weekend, talking about doing awesome work and about changing (okay, dominating) the world. 

(And enjoying really good vegan food truck options everywhere I went.  Yay, Portland!)

While I was there, I put together a video that’s part of the lead-up to Half Marathon Roadmap, which launches tomorrow.  I sent the video out to people who are interested in half marathon training, but then I realized something — this video is about much more than that.

It’s the exact psychological strategy — the headgame, if you will — that I used when I was training to qualify for Boston, which for me meant taking 100 minutes off my first marathon time.  So if you’re trying to get yourself to Boston, you’ll like it.

But even if not, I think it’s a great approach to any goal that seems really far off right now, or simply crazy or impossible or otherwise ridiculous.

So that’s why I’m posting it on the blog.  The only disclaimer is that the sound is REALLY quiet.  I’m not sure how I screwed that up or how to fix it, so the best I can do is suggest that you use headphones.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot. The video is 15 minutes long, because I really didn’t want to leave anything out. If you find it easier to watch a little bit at a time, here’s where each section begins:

  • 0:00 — Intro
  • 3:00 — Step 1
  • 5:05 — Step 2
  • 8:25 — Step 3
  • 13:30 — Putting it All Together

See you tomorrow with details about the Half Marathon Roadmap!



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How I Took 104 Minutes Off My Marathon Time to Qualify for Boston

blueprint-cover-791x1024Less than 10 percent of marathoners will ever qualify for Boston. Ten percent is a pretty small number, but you know what’s much smaller? The percentage of marathoners who take over 100 minutes off their time to get there. But that’s exactly what I did: after taking almost 5 hours to finish my first marathon, I ran a 3:09:59 and got into Boston. In this free, 9-page PDF report, I explain the biggest mental keys I used to take so much time off my marathon and get to Boston — and more importantly, how you can apply them to help you run your own BQ. Click here to get instant access to the Blueprint email series and start planning YOUR BQ today.


  1. OK, I couldn’t see the video (work firewall prevents video viewing), but I have to say that my personal strategy for taking HUGE amounts of time off a PR is to go the wrong way at the beginning of a race! I did so last year and took FIVE minutes off of my half marathon pace and finally, FINALLY broke 1:40, a goal I never thought I’d reach. Did I have to run an extra half mile? Sure, but that’s an even bigger PR.

    Hehe. I don’t actually recommend going off course, but the panic that set in propelled me to speeds I never though were sustainable over 13.1 miles (or 13.6 in this case!).

    Just goes to show it truly is MENTAL!

  2. This weekend I learned how important it really is to be mentally prepared for a long endurance run. Staying motivated can be extremely difficult.

    I ran a marathon on my own. Just me and a 43K trail. It was intense to say the least and the most difficult part was staying motivated to finish.

  3. What a great video!!! This was super helpful and actually really reminded me of a lot of the things I did during my half marathon training to help myself. You are great at what you do, mah friend!

  4. Brian Hagan says:

    Great video. I plan to spend my summer trying to take 1 hour and 5 minutes off my last marathon (4:11). The video makes me want to get to the track right away!

  5. Great advice — thanks for the reminders! My headspace was definitely in need of some fine-tuning.

    I didn’t realize how practical your advice was until I found myself applying it as I was starring down a run at high noon in really humid weather. Veni vidi vici. NBD.

  6. great tips! i especially love the visualization part. i do this a lot. i’m training for my first ironman (less than 3 months away!) and during tough workouts i often think about what it will be like when i cross that finish line. i can see the clock, hear the announcer calling my name, feel the hands of the spectators high-fiving me along the finish chute. i imagine that i am right there in the moment, and i can feel the exhaustion and elation. like you mentioned, i can visualize it so vividly that my eyes start to well up with tears. this never fails to give me a little oomph into those workouts where i’m really struggling and hurting.

  7. Thanks for this post! I’m new to running, and I’ve been making some progress thanks to some of the tips you mention. I’m definitely going to incorporation the visualization aspect into my training.

  8. Roberta says:

    Hope you liked Portland!! Lots of fans out here I’m sure. I actually wore my NMA shirt to the helvetia half marathon in Portland this past weekend and saw someone running in one too!

    Love the video, especially the visualization tips! I think I will be Facebooking my commitment to the Maui Marathon this week!

  9. Nathalie says:

    Great video! Bookmarked it and I am sure that I will re-watch it time and time again when I have decided on a race and committed to it 🙂

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