At the 2019 Philadelphia Marathon there were a group of psychologists who worked together to give runners mid-race pep talks. They’re known informally as Psych on a Bike, and they were part of an inaugural race weekend program.
WHYY PBS reports that between miles 18 and 22, the Philly course can get a little lonely, but it’s also a critical stretch for a fast finish time. Mitchell Greene, the mastermind behind Philadelphia’s version of Psych on a Bike was there to ride up and down this stretch and coach runners to a personal best. He told PBS, “The idea of coaching in real time and keeping psychologists on hand for race weekend is relatively new, and has typically been reserved for marquee races like the New York City Marathon.” PBS continued, “Coaching from a bike during the race allows Greene to remind people how to fight the wall just as their mind is about to get the best of them.”
When training volume gets high, runners can end up spending a lot of time slogging miles on their own. If you’re feeling burdened by an upcoming long run, trying adapting a version of the Psych on a Bike program to your own life by asking a friend or family member to bike next to you–it’s amazing the difference that some company can make. While your personal Psych on a Bike won’t be allowed on course on race day (and is likely not an accredited sports psychologist) their company and support can make a hard training day easier.