Mental Training – Visualization


The subconscious mind cannot distinguish what is real from what is imagined, which is why the power of visualization can truly help an athlete. Visualization works during and before a race to calm your mind, put you at ease, and get you ready for top performance. (Hobson, Campbell, & Vickers, 2001)

“Don’t worry about Friday’s race, I’ve seen the movie – I stick with her till 300-meters to go and then out-kick her for the win.”  – Lindsay Hatz (One week before winning the Gold Medal in the 1999 World Veteran Games 5,000-meter walk)

The world’s greatest athletes consider visualization the number one technique to ensure peak performance. The concept is simple. “See” how you achieve dream levels of running by imagining the performance through the use of all your senses. By seeing and feeling your performance ahead of time, you train your mind and body for success in actual running situation. (McGee, 2000)

There are two main styles of visualization called the Movie Screen and Video Camera. Movie Screen visualization is when you are watching yourself perform as if you are outside your body. The goal is to run a movie of your desired outcome. Video Camera visualization is when you picture the scene from within yourself, as if you are looking out through the lens of a camera. (Friel & Byrn, 2003)

“Breathing in, I calm my body. Breathing out, I smile. Dwelling in the present moment, I know this is a wonderful moment!” – ThichNhatHanh, Zen master

No matter which style you prefer, you should try to picture as many aspects of the scene as possible – what the setting looks like, the quality of the sunlight, the color of the water, and the people around you. The goal should be to create as realistic a scene as possible.(Friel & Byrn, 2003)

Effort only fully releases its reward after a person refuses to quit. – William Arthur Ward

Visualize the perfect race where you are relaxed and strong and you cross the finish line knowing you did the best you could. Also, visualize thing that might go wrong and picture yourself staying calm and fixing or accepting the problem without panicking. Visualize missing the start gun by 30 seconds, goggles that break just before the race starts, a cycling shoe that comes off the pedal in transitions before you mount the bike, a flat tire, or a shoelace that comes untied. The important thing is to visualize the distraction happening and not letting it distract you. So if it does happen in a race, you won’t panic. You’ll calmly correct it and then continue having a great race. (Hobson, Campbell, & Vickers, 2001)

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