We have all heard about the benefits of pre-race visualization, but the question is how many athletes actually add it to their overall training plan. Last year as I was preparing for a Double Iron Triathlon (Double the Ironman distance) I spent several weeks visualizing a previous great race performance. The results worked exceptionally well.
Every evening I spent a few minutes listening to several MP3 files that were created to review my previous best race performances. The key was to embed in the mind how I felt, what I saw and took all 5 senses into the visualization.
Also, I would add to my normal training log a few key words for me to remember when I would experience challenging times in this long upcoming race (over 24 hours to finish). The goals were established and this was to be a “B” race as it was final preparation for my key year end event.
It was amazing that during race day, the key words and also the picture in my mind of a previous great race assisted me through many of the down’s that occurred during the run section. I was experiencing some low energy level issues while climbing the hill every loop and by focusing on “the great previous race experience” I just told myself to go.
I had no expectation of a podium finish other than to put in a solid effort and be ready for my big year end event. As I continued to push through the run, I positioned myself into 3rd place with a hard charging athlete. I know that my mental preparation allowed me to remain calm and stay in the “present moment” and not panic.
Through my key words and my mantra repeated over and over again “I will persist until I succeed” the fellow competitor went too hard and I was able to pass him in the late stages of the run (loop course on the run). This provided a nice cushion and ended up in 3rd place overall.
Do not underestimate the benefits of race visualization for several weeks (Do It Every Day) prior to your key event!
Wayne Kurtz is the founder of RaceTwitch.com (http://www.racetwitch.com), the world’s largest, free, online, multi-discipline, racing resource – “Helping Endurance Athletes Build Exceptional Race Calendars,” and Endurance Racing Report –which has worldwide endurance race profiles and training advice reports (http://www.enduranceracingreport.com); and http://www.RacePeak.com – which is a comprehensive training resource for athletes. Over the last 25 years, I have tested myself and triumphed over hundreds of endurance race events. I thrive on the adrenaline, and feel an un-paralleled passion about the challenge, strength and endurance required not just of the physical body, but the test of my mental stamina to hang in there, and confront all the obstacles. The thrill of the stick-to-it mentality to keep going even when I am physically exhausted, allowing my mind to take over, pushing to never give into physical defeat, is why I am so passionate about this sport.