As marathon runners, we all know the inevitable struggle that comes with tackling the last 8 kilometres of the race. It’s a daunting stretch that tests both our physical endurance and mental resilience. However, with the right preparation and mindset, you can navigate through this challenging phase and emerge victorious on race day.

Here’s how…

Embrace the Challenge

First and foremost, it’s essential to acknowledge that the final 8 kilometres of a marathon are perhaps the toughest part of the entire race. 

Whether you’re a seasoned veteran or a first-time marathoner, expect to face intense physical and mental hurdles during this stretch. Embracing the challenge and mentally preparing yourself for the ordeal ahead is the first step towards conquering it.

Train Specifically

Incorporating specific training sessions into your regimen can help you prepare for the demands of the final kilometres. Consider incorporating “fast finish” sessions into your training plan, where you gradually increase your pace towards the end of a long run. These sessions simulate the fatigue and discomfort you’ll experience during the latter stages of the marathon, helping you build both physical and mental resilience.

Find out which Marathon Training plan you should be following

Practice Self-Talk

During those gruelling final kilometres, your mind can either be your greatest ally or your worst enemy. Harness the power of positive self-talk to keep yourself motivated and focused. Remind yourself of your training, your preparation, and your determination to reach the finish line. Use affirmations such as “I am strong,” “I can do this,” and “One step at a time” to bolster your confidence and push through the pain.

Maintain Proper Form

As fatigue sets in, it’s easy for your running form to deteriorate, leading to inefficiency and increased discomfort. Focus on maintaining proper posture and technique, even when every fibre of your being is screaming to slow down or stop. Relax your shoulders, keep your arms swinging smoothly, and maintain a steady rhythm with your breathing. By staying relaxed and composed, you’ll conserve valuable energy and alleviate some of the strain on your body.

Visualize Success

Visualization can be a powerful tool in overcoming mental barriers and staying focused during the final kilometres of the marathon. Picture yourself crossing the finish line strong and triumphant, feel the exhilaration of achieving your goal, and envision the sense of pride and satisfaction that awaits you. By mentally rehearsing success, you’ll instil confidence in yourself and reinforce your determination to push through to the end.

Navigating the last 8 kilometres of a marathon is undoubtedly a formidable challenge, but it’s also an opportunity to showcase your resilience, determination, and sheer grit. By embracing the challenge, training specifically, practicing positive self-talk, maintaining proper form, and visualizing success, you can overcome the physical and mental obstacles that stand between you and the finish line. 

So, the next time you find yourself in the midst of those gruelling final kilometres, remember these strategies and push through with unwavering resolve. Victory awaits those who dare to persevere.


With a passion for high performance sport – Lindsey Parry is one of South Africa’s most widely recognised coaches. Having led a team to the London, Rio and Tokyo Olympic Games as well as the Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh, the Gold Coast & Birmingham, and coached both triathletes and runners onto podiums of some of the world’s most illustrious races, Lindsey has a unique ability to understand what it takes to succeed at any level and thrives on coaching, motivating and inspiring others to do the same – whether it’s on the track, on stage or behind a mic.

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