The Psyching Team

Dr. Peter Papadogiannis, Ph.D.
Dr. Kate F. Hays, Ph.D., C.Psych., CMPC

Back by popular demand! Quick tips on how to be mentally prepared to run your best race. Consider these typical scenarios:

  • The runner who expects to complete the race in 3:25–or feel utterly defeated;
  • The first-time marathoner, wondering what he’ll do when he hits “the wall”;
  • The runner who knows that she is too keyed up but can’t calm down;
  • The runner who can’t stop thinking about a current crisis in his family life;
  • The runner coming back from injury and insecure about how much she can handle.

Each of these runners can benefit from a few minutes’ conversation with a member of the Psyching Team. Dr. Papadogiannis, Dr. Hays, and 40 volunteer psychologists and sport psychologists offer you mental strategies before, during, and after the Toronto Marathon.Commonly-used peak performance strategies include goal setting, relaxation training, imagery, positive self-talk, and affirmations. Psyching Team members trained in these methods will tailor the technique to the particular person. It’s fun and it’s helpful. What more could you ask?
Inaugurated in 1999 by Dr. Kate Hays (founder and director from 1999-2008) and supported by the Ontario Psychological Association, each year members of the Psyching Team work with over 1,000 individuals, small groups of runners, and participants in workshops. Runners are especially interested in learning methods of tension reduction and appropriate goal setting, as well as experiencing positive imagery for the race. Most find it helpful to wear the piece of finishing line ribbon that we will give you. This fluorescent orange ribbon helps runners to remember and use the “psyching” tips they have learned.
Each year, we build on successful services, based on your interest and involvement. Many of you find out about the Psyching Team right here on the web, and increasingly, you seek us out. Keep it up!

Here’s where you will find us:


EXPO: We’re available Friday evening and Saturday for consultation and mental strategizing. You will find us at the Psyching Team booth, or “meeting and greeting” throughout the Expo, in our signature red Psyching Team vests and caps.

NEW this year: Psyching UP Talks on stress management, goal setting, cognitive strategies while running, and visualization.

Race Start: For those last minute mental strategies (and a friendly face), we’ll be at the “start line” located on North York Blvd. near Beecroft from 6:30 am. until the various race starts.


“Psychs on Bikes” is going strong. Bicycling in strategic locations, our Psychs on Bikes provide encouragement, support and advice to runners during the course of their race. Feel free to flag down one of our cyclists, with their distinctive red caps and red vests. We’ll talk you through the rough spots.
We also offer “Psychs on Foot” during the race. Psyching Team members will be positioned in various parts of the race route and will provide support to runners by running with them. This is particularly helpful for “post-wall” challenges that occur during the last few km’s of the race.


How did the race go? We’ll be available at the Medical Tent after the race, to help you put your best “spin” on the race just after you’ve finished or, if necessary, help you cope with a crisis.

For further information

People seeking further information about The Psyching Team or sport psychology, or interested in volunteering to be members of The Psyching Team, may contact Dr. Peter Papadogiannis at (416) 220-8603 or via

Click Here for mental skills tips for marathoners and half-marathoners.


As a consultant and lecturer, Dr. Peter Papadogiannis, Ph.D. has been involved in a variety of athletic, organizational, and academic settings. As a mental skills consultant, Peter is an active member of the Canadian Sport Psychology Association and has developed various systems and strategies aimed at improving athletic performance. He is currently a service provider for the Canadian Sport Centre-Ontario, Athlete’s Care, The Sports Clinic, and Toronto SEMI. Within organizational settings, much of Peter’s work has been focused on the area of leadership and organizational development. His extensive knowledge of psychological assessment and human behaviour has enabled him to help numerous individuals and organizations in strengthening their individual and team competencies. Peter is the co-author of the Emotional Intelligence Skills Assessment Training Program and is also a sessional faculty member of psychology at York University, the University of Guelph-Humber, and Sheridan College.

Dr. Kate Hays, Ph.D., C.Psych., CMPC, the Founding Director of the Toronto Marathon Psyching Team, practices sport, performance, and clinical psychology in Toronto through her own consulting programme, The Performing Edge. Her blog on Psychology Today focuses on peak performance across a variety of domains:

Before starting the Toronto Marathon Psyching Team, Dr. Hays was a member of and trainer for the New York City Marathon Psych Team for many years, as well as the Boston Marathon Sweep Team. She is Past-President of the American Psychological Association’s (APA) Division of Exercise & Sport Psychology. She is actively involved with the Association for Applied Sport Psychology, Canadian Psychological Association, Ontario Psychological Association, as well as APA. A frequent international lecturer, Dr. Hays has combined her expertise in sport psychology and psychotherapy as an author of five books and numerous professional articles. She is a member of the Advisory Board of Runner’s World.

Want more information about psyching teams?

If you’re a sport psychologist, mental health professional, or graduate student in one of these fields and would like to participate as a member of the Toronto Marathon Psyching Team, please contact Dr. Peter Papadogiannis @

If you’re a runner, you can get blog tips to psych you up for a race: Dr. Hays has written a number of blogs specifically about psyching teams and mental skills options. The most recent is @

If you’re a sport psychologist, mental health professional, or graduate student in one of these fields and want to develop your psyching team skills or link up with others interested in developing psyching teams: