In running, mental play is just as important as physical play. “You can have the best training and coaching in the world, but if you don’t have the right mind it’s difficult to get results,” said Tom Brumlik, Under Armor’s performance coach. The professionals understand this, of course, and use visualization techniques to push through difficult moments. How to take a page from your book.
Just as you train your body if you want to go fast, if you want to practice visualization, you must train your mind – building a mental picture of a future scenario and observing it as realistically as possible. “It helps to recognize that development takes time,” says Brumlik. “The most important elements are the consistent repetition and the subsequent visualization with action.”
“If you think about running the Boston Marathon every day before you qualify, or even begin the training required to qualify, it doesn’t matter how well you can imagine the route,” warns Brumlik. “This is daydreaming.” Instead, focus more clearly on the actual task, envisioning yourself doing it, and repeating it several times.
Olympian Joanna Zeiger, author of The Champion Mindset, adds, “As with anything new, it takes practice. Start with visualization techniques long before the race. ”
You don’t have to follow any specific rules
While there are certain approaches to visualization that help, it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach, says Zeiger. “The only thing that matters is that you do it,” she says. It doesn’t matter where you visualize either – do it during a hard workout or at home in a quiet, comfortable place. For example: “If you envision your longrun the next morning while you were in bed the night before, it can be effective because you will be putting it into practice in the near future,” says Brumlik.
Experiment with what works best
When it comes to visualization, athletes usually choose one of two ways: internal or external. Either way is fine, but you need to figure out what works best for you. Internal visualization could look like practicing a certain aspect of running. For example, suppose you wanted to increase your cadence. “Imagine moving your foot down under you without throwing it forward and overrunning it,” says Brumlik. External visualization is what most runners think of when they think of practice. Imagine being on a racetrack with your competitors leading the way. Or imagine a particularly rough spot during training and walk through it effortlessly. “I also recommend imagining mistakes,” says Zeiger, “so that the athlete can practice how to deal with certain adversities during a race.”
Visualize during training or a race
Visualization only pays off when you can use it during a difficult period, be it during a race or practice. “It can be helpful to imagine how you end the break in the middle, for example,” says Zeiger. “When I was doing intervals on the road, I would often introduce myself on a route where I could count down in 400 meter increments. I would also imagine that at the end I could stop and catch my breath. “
In order to achieve maximum impact, Brumlik trains his athletes to focus on the process for months before important races and overcome any potential hurdles to get a positive result. “Then you can imagine a race better if you know all the variables,” he says. No matter what you encounter in a challenging moment – rain, hills, heat, or humidity – you are mentally trained and ready to respond in a way that will carry you through the moment.
Under Armor, Inc., headquartered in Baltimore, Maryland, is a leading inventor, marketer, and distributor of branded athletic apparel, footwear, and accessories. Under Armor’s innovative products and experiences are designed to empower human performance and are designed to improve athletes. More information is available at http://about.underarmour.com.