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Secrets to speed: UT professor explains psychological marathon training

Practice makes perfect, but a University of Tennessee professor said there's other important steps before your first long race.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — With the Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon on the horizon, many East Tennesseans are lacing up their running shoes. 

In an online University of Tennessee news update, a professor shared important tips about getting mentally ready to hit the starting line. 

Jedediah Blanton is an assistant professor in sport psychology. He said training starts in your head -- it's easier to enjoy movement when you start realistically. 

“Find a reasonable and realistic goal for you, and if you’ve never been a runner, just start walking. Start with 10 minutes a day and work your way up," he said in the UT article.

Blanton also suggests using "SMART" goals: specific, measurable, realistic and time-bound.

Apps and running clubs can also help you think positively about running. But even if you train with a group, Blanton said you should focus on your own pace, form and progress. 

“When you focus on how others perform, you are not actively aware of whether you are on pace with your goals or not, which can lead to burnout or exhaustion," Blanton said.

He said you should think about how your body feels as you run past every mile marker. In between, it can help to think about other things and take your mind off it as you run. 

He suggests thinking about the great breakfast you're going to have later, or the lyrics to your favorite song. 

RELATED: Mayor Indya Kincannon, hundreds more run in Strawberry Plains Half Marathon

RELATED: East Tennessee kids begin two-month marathon at Kids Run kick-off

The Knoxville Marathon is set for Sunday, March 29. WBIR will once again cover the race live.

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