I am a huge believer in the power of visualization in all sports. Sports psychologists that work with elite athletes and teams often refer to the technique of visualization, as a means for achieving performance goals (or for other goals in life for that matter!).
I use visualization a lot during race-specific training. Some people like to use visual cues such as putting goal times on Post-its around the house or other places that you see all the time.
I prefer to close my eyes (not while running of course!) and picture myself at various points in the race and crossing the finish line. If I have a specific time in mind, I focus on that number as it appears on the race clock. I do this A LOT, and I do think it has helped me a lot in recent races.
If you don’t use visualization as part of your pre-race prep, here are some tips to get you started:
- Come up with a very realistic picture of your racing success in your mind. It can be a picture of your goal time on a stopwatch, a vision of you crossing the finish line, or any other image that means a successful race for you.
- Practice your visualization in a comfortable spot, without interruptions, but try not to lay down on the bed or somewhere you are bound to fall asleep!
- Try to do your visualization twice a day, if possible.
- It’s natural for your mind to try to drift away from your mental imagery, or for negative thoughts to try to enter your mind. If this happens, just keep bringing yourself back to your mental image—it will get easier with practice, I promise!
Do you use mental imagery in your running? What have your experiences been?