When following a marathon program most runners put all their concentrated effort on the workouts, adding in muscle strengthening sessions at the gym, stretching when they think about it. If they’re dedicated athletes they’ll throw in a nutrition program too.

But there are two additional training components that I think are fundamental for all  runners, especially marathoners. The first is sleep (and rest) and the second is meditation. I know, it seems too easy. Who has time for that when there are only twenty-four hours in the day? I’ve been running for almost thirty years now and can tell you that adding more rest to your routine will boost your running experience and performance by at least twenty percent. Meditation instead will give you a tool to work with while you run and race.

Sleep and rest
When you rest and sleep your energy consumption lowers, putting both your brain and body to rest. That extra energy along with nocturnal growth hormone production work on repairing damaged muscles and bones.

But sleeping more means going to bed earlier and that’s where the difficulty comes in. If you happen to be a night owl  the summer evenings are even more enjoyable with cooler temps and evening drinks. But the nights you’re able get eight or more hours of sleep will change the quality of your workout the next day. Plus, one of the best times to run is in the early morning hours.

- Clean your room and change the sheets. Nothing will make you feel better than having beautiful surroundings.

-    Go to bed without your smartphone. Really. Stop it. If you need an alarm clock for the morning, buy a real alarm clock.

-    Choose a book, get comfortable and read until you start to feel sleepy.

-    Turn off the lights and nighty night.

The next day you’ll have a quality workout, If you do this three nights in a row you will be magically transformed.

The meditation I’m talking about doesn’t require learning a mantra or attending a special course. You can start with five minutes a day and still get plenty of benefits. In meditation you try and get a clean slate for your mind while you concentrate on something specific, your breathing pattern or a simple body scan. Learning to do this while sitting still will prepare you to do the same as you run. You’ll be needing this skill when you start doing repeats or on any of your longer runs.

-    Find a comfortable place to sit, a chair or a bed is fine. No, you don’t need to get into a full lotus position!

-    Set a timer for the amount of time you want to do the exercise. Five minutes is a good starting point.

-    Take a few deep breathes and then close your eyes.

-    Breath normally but as you do pay attention to the rhythm of your own breathing pattern. Don’t worry if your mind wanders, just bring it back to your breathing when you notice that happening.

You can then try the same when you go out for your next run, but keep your eyes open!