There’s a method to my madness, so entertain the thought for a moment or two. First of all, I have a coach, however, my coach does not run or train with me, he provides my workouts and I check in with him each Sunday. I say that because each of you have fantastic coaches who will run and train with you…this is a benefit when training with motivational coaches with Balanced Running. So, every Saturday evening, I run my track workouts, Coach Dale comes out to time me, (he of course does not coach me but serves as my timing device…lol). My coach wanted me to run a time trial, of course Coach Dale graciously offered to time me, after my warm up, I proceeded with my workout, as I ran past him, he’d yell, “Slow 7 seconds” this of course went on lap after lap, finally in my fourth lap in, I yelled back, “what’s the total time?” then he’d yell “slow 7 seconds”. Well, “slow” kept going lap after lap, and of course did a mental number on me because I kept thinking, “oh crap, I’m getting slow”, “I’m not fast, I”m slow”..needless to say, it mentally weighed me down, then finally – my last lap left, I shook off “my pity mental party” and just had to go – ALL OUT for my final lap. Lessons learned: get negative words out of your thoughts; focus on the positive; suggested that Dale call out “off by xx amount of seconds” or “back off / speed up” this would allow my mental thought process to be visual and positive.
Secondly, so, how does this affect you the athlete? Use Visualization of powerful positive words!
Visualization is a powerful tool, it helps each of us reach our goals. One must first imagine achieving their goal. Think back to when you first began training, how far you’ve come and just think, you have yet to tap the surface with your undiscovered possibilities, you have many more PRs to conquer. All of us have vision, whether it’s for work, school, family, finances athletics. They all go hand in hand. Use powerful positive words to get you through practice and daily life. This is one reason we refer to you as athletes, each of you are a powerful force of athleticism. I’ve worked with several of you with “mental visualization” techniques. Here are additional techniques to get you through-Before, During and After Racing (yes, even training):
Visualization Exercise to “Practice” before a “Race”:
- Take a few deep breaths before beginning this exercise to help you focus and relax.
- Try to engage all your senses as you imagine yourself on the morning of the race (or training). How do you feel? What do you hear and see and smell?
- See yourself getting dressed in your running clothes. Feel your clothes on your body as you move about getting your things ready. Notice any familiar sounds or smells as you prepare.
- Now you are preparing and eating your healthy breakfast. Notice how it smells and tastes as it fills your body with energy.
- You are feeling really good and you are excited now on the morning of the race. You are well rested and you have prepared well. You have done everything you need to do and you are ready to go. There is lots of time for you to get to the race start.
- As you arrive at the race start, you can feel the anticipation in the air. It’s so exciting! Is your heart pumping? Do you have to go to the bathroom?
- What do you see and hear as you watch all the runners and volunteers getting ready for the big moment? Just imagine it. Everyone is so busy.
- The air is filled with excitement and energy. You are calm and relaxed but excited too. What is the weather like? Will it be hot or cool or raining on this day?
- The race will begin in a few minutes. You take a few deep breaths to center yourself as you line up at the start. Feel how strong you are now. You have trained well and your body is ready for this race.
- You are proud to be here with all these wonderful people and to take part in such an amazing event.
- Do you have a water bottle? Did you take a few sips? Where did you place it?
- Your coaches will be around pumping and cheering you on, can you see their faces, hear their voices?
- The gun sounds off and the race begins. Everyone starts to run. You are ready for this moment and you begin running too.
- See yourself clearly now as you start running. See your clothes, your racing bib, your shoes, your timing device.
- You are running strong and relaxed and it feels fantastic. You feel the muscles in your legs and your arms—they are all moving easily. Everything is in sync.
- You can hear the sound of your feet and your breath as your move forward in perfect running form-falling forward.
- You can see the crowds and landmarks along the course, the clouds in the sky, the trees or the buildings, the other runners, the mile or kilometer markers, the nutrition stations and the volunteers along the way. You smile and wave at the volunteers.
- You are now a part of this race and everything it entails.
- You can smell the fresh air. What other scents would be present along this route? Just imagine them.
- You feel very relaxed now but you are also energized. You are moving along easily now and you are feeling great. You are fully experiencing this moment.
- You are pacing yourself correctly. You are running strong with correct form, noticing other runners with the unnatural form and you’re glad your coaches helped you notice how to run and train with the proper technique.
- You are now at the half-way mark. You feel very strong now. You know you are capable of completing this race and you know you will feel great at the end.
- With each step you take, you become more in tune with your surroundings and the environment. Your mind and body become one in perfect harmony.
- You hear the sounds from the crowds cheering and fellow athletes calling your name or shouting “come on train insane, don’t remain the same” on the course. It’s so energizing!
- Notice each distinct scent along the route—the foods, nature’s bouquet, sweaty runners.
- If you stop briefly to refuel. Imagine how your drink or snack tastes as you replenish your body. As you refuel, imagine your body being filled with great strength, power and stamina.
- You are exactly where you want to be. You are enjoying the race–every moment of it!
- You love the atmosphere and the excitement of the crowds. You are living your dream. Today is the day. You are in total control of your body, your mind and your spirit.
- You are feeling very confident as you near the end of the race. You surge forward with power and speed as the finish line draws nearer.
- The crowds are cheering you on as they call out your number and or name or team name.
- Visualize how it feels now as you finish the race. The movements of your legs and arms are strong and controlled as you swiftly and easily shoot over the finish line.
- You are triumphant as you raise your arms in the air. You look good and feel great. You are finished. The Hay is in The Barn…YOU GOT This….
- You are smiling and you are happy. If medals are handed out, feel the medal being placed around your neck as you walk towards the refreshments table. Take a deep breath and savor this moment. It feels wonderful! You have earned this and it is YOURS to enjoy and remember always!
- No one GAVE you the Finish Line…YOU EARNED IT!!!!
You can implement these techniques before training and during to visualization your achievements for reaching your goals! As athletes, practice makes permanent….you are a committed athlete with intestinal fortitude and new discoveries on your horizon…. 🙂