Mental Preparation for your distance run is essential for successfully crossing the finish line the way you want to. Read on to find out why visualizing techniques are powerful for your mental game and how to go about them.
Have you heard about visualizations or imagery as success tools before?
We often use it as part of Life Coaching, and it’s even used by people in recovery from strokes and other illnesses. And in recent years, it’s become more and more known that athletes are using it to achieve their goals too.
So, why not utilize the same for your next 10k race, marathon, fitness challenge, or life goals?
Just try it out and see what’s possible!
“Many elite athletes routinely use visualization techniques as part of training and competition. There are many stories of athletes who have used these techniques to cultivate a competitive edge.” according to Exercise Psychologist Elizabeth Quinn.
LeBron James (NBA basketball player), Michael Phelps (Competitive swimmer and winner of 28 Olympic medals), Katie Ledecky (the most dominant distance swimmer in history), and many more “… understand that mental exercise is just as important as physical exercise.” Ledecky talks about her visualization ritual here if you’re interested in what that looks like.
What is visualization or imagery?
Visualization can also be called imagery or even mental preparation or rehearsal. Psychology Today describes it this way: “Think of mental imagery as weight lifting for the mind.” It involves all your senses: hear, taste, see, feel, smell.
You imagine or re-create what success looks like, what steps you have to take, and how you achieve those goals – step by step.
Why do visualizations work and their benefits
Studies “have revealed that imagery increases performance in motor tasks.”
In addition, visualizations help get the most out of your training and speed up progress, build confidence, reduce anxiety and stressors, as well as help you stay motivated.
“Imagery is used by virtually all great athletes and research has shown that, when combined with actual practice, improves performance more than practice alone.” (Source)
Success Tip for Runners: Visualize crossing your 10k finish line.
Now that you know the what and why of visualizations for sports, and how athletes are using them, it’s time to check out different ways you can make them work for your 10k race and running success.
They work best when you incorporate all of your senses. Try out what works best for you, one of the ways below or a combination of several.
4 ways to visualize your running success
- Vision Boards
Create visual collages (either on paper, with an app, or on your computer) using powerful images (can be of yourself but doesn’t have to be) of what you imagine your training and success looks like, what you want to feel like, etc.
2. Connect and Experience
If this is your first ever race experience, for some it may be difficult to imagine what a race day or the actual race might be like. In that case, talking with people who’ve successfully participated in races before might be helpful, as well as watching videos or races, or listening to podcast interviews about distance running.
3. Index Cards
Write out your goals – one per index card. At least once a day read them out loud for yourself, close your eyes, and envision what achieving each goal looks and feels like before moving on to the next index card.
4. Guided Visualizations
You can find recorded, guided visualizations online (the meditation app Headspace has some) or a personalized visualization experience for your specific goals, by working with a Mental Fitness Coach.
5. Journaling Questions
Journal and reflect on these journaling questions (add more if you want and where it seems relevant), then imagine what that would look like in real life!
- What does your ideal race day look like?
- What will you be wearing, eating, smelling, hearing, feeling?
- What’s your energy level in the morning?
- What songs/ soundtracks will you be listening to?
- Who will be with you?
- What will your race be like at the start, the middle, the end?
- What running time will you achieve?
- What will your posture be like when you cross the finish line? And your energy level? How will you feel at the end?
The important parts to remember about visualizations:
- You are training your brain. Just like you are training your muscles for strength and speed, it takes time and practice. Be patient and keep at it.
- Quality goes over quantity so make sure you’re involving as many of your senses as possible and put some serious effort into your visualizations.
- Take a ‘positive outcome’ approach, i.e. what will it look like when you cross that finish line with a personal best.
- Visualizations and mental preparations work!
- If you need support, please reach out!
Using visualizing techniques or imagery is a sure way to up and succeed with your running goals. Here’s to triumphantly crossing your 10k finish line!
To optimize your training:
- Start in-person strength training, and book your session here.
- Work on your success mindset for your race, book an initial call.