Distance Running Imagery Works for All Standards
I've read much of the power of imagery when used by elite
athletes but found little evidence of its use by club and
fun runners, many of whom devote hours each week to their
physical improvement However, their psychological development
is often neglected.
This is a pity, since they would see much faster race times
and quicker recoveries with more mental training. In my forties
I could complete sub 2.50 marathons but as I aged and I could
no longer repeat those times, my use of imagery allowed me
to complete marathons in up to an hour longer without physical
I used no professional help but spent the weeks before races
preparing mentally for my big day. I would reflect on what
I knew about the course, the gradients, the traffic, the prevailing
wind and the likely weather I would encounter. I would imagine
how I would feel at each stage of my race, who I would see,
what I would hear and how my body would react. When training
on the road in the weeks before racing I would imagine I was
running, say miles 20 to 26 of the race so that when the race
came, I had an image of my running easily, despite having
covered 20 miles.
When I trained in poor weather, I used this to prepare for
similar conditions on race day. Whenever I trained physically,
I also used mental training so that I was completely prepared
for the race, whatever happened.
Nowadays, I know that when I see a runner training with music
on an mp3 player that they are unlikely to be using any mental
processes to help them on a future race day. They are using
the music to kill the time whilst training instead of using
the power of their brain positively. Training runs will never
be boring if the brain is fully active observing, listening,
even smelling and feeling the environment in preparation for
The mental conditioning continued when I'd returned home after
training. When in bed I used a similar process to replicate
my race using real time as much as possible. This meant when
rehearsing running six-minute miles I spent six minutes imagining
each mile. The process itself is quite draining, since the
brain activates the body's nervous system as though the activity
were taking place. Thus my breathing rate increased as did
my pulse, requiring a warm down period to conclude the session
to allow me to sleep easily.
On race day I was prepared for all eventualities and was not
fazed by unexpected. I could run well in all weather and cope
with strong winds in any direction, adjusting my pace as appropriate.
As I did not allow outside events to disrupt my purpose ,
I ran in a much more relaxed fashion and, I believe, much
Try it and see on your next training run, take in as much
as you can, then try to imagine the same easy conditions when
you are called to run much faster on race day. Mental rehearsal
will top up your physical training to help you achieve faster
William Metcalfe works in a UK university sports
department with athletics and weight training qualifications.
He can be contacted via his website, http://www.teen-gym.com
or at firstname.lastname@example.org
Article Source: http://www.teen-gym.com
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