Visualization has always been an important part of my athletic success. Throughout my years of junior golf and well into college, I was taught to visualize the shot I wanted to hit. Yes, golf was my main athletic focus from age 12-22, though toward the end it started to fade as I decided I liked running better. Don't tell my dad or my college golf coach; I digress. I remember being pretty young (probably 9 or 10) and my dad teaching me this lesson: “What do you do if I tell you not to think about pink elephants? You’ll think about pink elephants! Instead of thinking ‘don’t hit the ball in the water’ which will probably make you hit the ball in the water, think of hitting your ball on the green. Picture what you want to do.” That sort of positive thinking helped me win several golf tournaments over the years.Before I’d tee off, I’d picture myself hitting my drive into the fairway. But I’d be really specific – I wouldn’t just look at the big green fairway, I’d focus on what side of the fairway, clearing the bunker, just past that dead patch of grass, over that mound, left of the 150 steak or wherever it was that would set me up for a good second shot. I can still picture shots I’d want to hit on some of my old courses. If I was on the green and had a long putt, I’d read the break and visualize my ball rolling into the hole. And if it was a short putt, I’d see my ball hit dead center into the bottom of the cup.
So again for the next few days, I will spend some time being very specific visualizing my race. From where I’m going to line up for the swim, getting from one buoy to the next, exiting the water, the quick motions in T1 (shoes, race belt, GU flask, helmet, glasses), mounting my bike, specific parts of the bike course, dismounting my bike, getting through T2 quickly, every single turn on the run course, and all the way through to the finish line. The first year I qualified for Kona, I didn’t tell people this, but I pictured myself on the podium winning my age group. And guess what happened? Within a mile of the run, I was in first place (the memory of my coach telling me this still gives me chills)! I won my age group by 9 minutes and got to walk up to the top of the podium just like I imagined.
I’m not saying this works out so successfully every time, but it does help. Envisioning race day and how I want it to turn out has also helped alleviate some pre-race anxiety. Granted, I know there are things I cannot predict, but I feel confident in my experience and training to be adequately prepared on Saturday.
Best of luck to everyone racing this weekend! Take a few moments this week to focus on the positive and then let it all unfold on your big day. Dream on.
|Picturing my next Ironman finish using images from CdA 2011|
I'm the one in orange and yes, I passed that guy.