The mind is a powerful thing. We often hear this statement however how can we utilise this tool as runners?
Runners prepare physically before every race through exercise and other physical activities. This may prepare the runner physiologically, but it may not be enough to win the race. Another important factor that can improve the runner’s ability is the mental preparedness. This requires the athletes to unleash the hidden power inside them.
You must see your goals clearly and specifically before you can set out for them. Hold them in your mind until they become second nature. -Les Brown
Visualization Techniques Can Help Runners Improve Their Hidden Power
Visualization is a mental skill that equips athletes for any sport. It is the process of imagining a future event happening in the present. It highly impacts the runner’s overall performance through improving his or her auditory, visual, kinesthetic and other body systems and senses. These techniques can help runners to visualize and reach their goals and if applied correctly can become very useful in getting the most out of yourself.
Before runners start any race, they should first perform visualization techniques of mental rehearsal that can improve their mental and physical state. Runners can lie down and relax while breathing calmly. Doing some deep breathing exercises, stretching lightly, listening to music or having casual fun conversation with other confident, calm and strong-minded runners. They should then envision themselves on the track, including all the sights, smells and feelings. Runners should picture themselves finishing the race well and reaching the finish line first. The clearer the visualization, the more useful it will be in the race.
“Losers visualize the penalties of failure. Winners visualize the rewards of success.”
One useful technique for runners is affirmations. The runner can use affirmation statements by saying them either out loud or quietly to himself or herself. Affirmations work because whatever you verbally repeat to yourself will influence your thoughts. Some simple rules when using affirmations: always affirm in the positive and use the specific words that reflect what you want to happen. Make your affirmation short and simple and tailor it to be like a mantra that you can repeat it over and over again without even thinking about it. You don’t need to force yourself to believe it, just say it. Keep repeating over and over again and the affirmation will quite naturally have an effect.
Eliminating Negative Thoughts
What you focus on, you attract even though we may not be consciously aware of it. Train your mind to think about the thing that you want and avoid thinking about what you don’t want. When your anxiety or fear pop-up during a race. We should be vigilant and aware of it and immediately change the negative thoughts into a positive one. For example, if you are focusing on not completing the race, change your thoughts to what you will enjoy after the race. The key is to be diligent in monitoring what you are thinking and catch the negatives before they have a chance to become entrenched. The mind is a creature of habit and we are responsible for the thoughts we think.
“Visualize this thing that you want, see it, feel it, believe in it. Make your mental blue print, and begin to build.” -Robert Collier
Look at the Road Ahead
Runners sometimes tend to watch their shoes or feet while they run. This results in reduced balance at the body’s center of gravity. Instead, runners should look at the road ahead and visualize the finish line. This helps runners to keep their speed and stay focused on the goal by not getting distracted.
Imagine Running on Hot Coals
Running on hot coals is a common strategy that motivational speakers use. People make use of their trusting skills to keep their bodies safe while overcoming fear and anxiety. For runners, this is a great way of improving speed as staying too long on hot coals will burn the bare skin. Instead, they should run as fast as they can in order to avoid being burned.
“People who soar are those who refuse to sit back, sigh and wish things would change. They neither complain of their lot nor passively dream of some distant ship coming in. Rather, they visualize in their minds that they are not quitters; they will not allow life’s circumstances to push them down and hold them under.”
How will visualizing help?
Visualization drastically improves the runner’s speed. It helps to prepare the mind as visualization mentally equips the athlete before the race. The runner is able to imagine elements that can help him or her increase their speed and acceleration. The technique also helps runners to be physiologically prepared as it enhances breathing patterns. This helps distribute oxygen to all the essential body parts such as the muscles and heart.
Positive Mind Set and Body Response
This technique may be conventional, but it continues to help athletes in many different sports. It helps runners to achieve a positive mind set before and during the race as they are able to visualize the goal and not think negative thoughts. As a result, the body also responds in a positive way. The mind helps the body achieve the runner’s desired goal.
Reduced Stress and Negative Body Reactions
A race can be stressful and demanding for runners. Although they are able to practice and exercise beforehand, they may still feel anxious or nervous. This is why visualization is a useful tool for runners and any other athletes. The technique helps them to keep a calm mind and body functions. Their blood flow and oxygen levels are kept at a balanced level. This helps to mainatin relaxed muscles and to avoid cramps or other health problems.
Visualization before the race helps the runner focus on one thing at a time. This improves their ability to keep their minds relaxed and not get distracted by other ideas or thoughts. On the track, runners also become more focused on the race. Their minds are sharpened and trained to maintain attention on one thing and not get distracted by other factors while in the race. They are not bothered by other runners or unavoidable distractions.
As the runner visualizes positive results, he or she also starts to gain more self-confidence. As a result, the runners also begin to reach speeds that were not possible before. They feel relaxed and calm before the race and are able to stay composed. Runners are also able to think and feel that they can do anything or achieve any goal.
Visualization helps runners to reach the fullest of their potential. The technique unleashes the power inside their bodies and minds that can aid in attaining their goals. It does not only benefit runners’ overall performance but helps them to achieve a balanced mental and physical state.