Visualization & Running II

Imagery scripts should be unique to an individual. There are many examples you can use and start with. But, you must make it “yours” in order for it to be as effective as possible. Here are some tips to make them most effective for you.

  1. Generally, use “I” in your script to make it more personal. Though some people will find it more effective to use second person “you” language.
  2. If you prefer to be “led” through the process; then script it with direct instructions (“Close your eyes”, “Imagine your legs like pistons”).
  3. Active or passive voice work (“Relax your arms”, “I’m focused on the ground in front of me”, “I’m relaxing my arms”).
  4. Use words & phrases that you normally use. The vocabulary has to seem natural to you.
  5. Use key affirmations – those positive reinforcing statements – that resonate with you (“I feel strong”, “Nobody, but nobody beats me in the last mile”).
  6. Emphasize elements that have power with you. If it stirs emotion, creates a vivid image, gives you goosebumps – then you are on the right track!
  7. In your mind use a voice – tone & emphasis – that makes it real for you.
  8. If you don’t like hearing your own voice, have someone else record it for you.

You can record a script, actively read through a script or in your mind recite the script. It doesn’t have to be exact word-for-word but the power comes in the images, feelings, senses that are stimulated.

With those things in mind start with relaxing and clearing your mind. Allow noises to drift into the background. Hear them and just let them go. Begin to focus your attention on the hear and now. Nothing else is important at this moment.

Here is one sample script focused on preparation for a run and getting mentally into a workout. 
I am taking a deep breath, inhaling all the air I can… exhaling slowly. All the tension in my body-is leaving me. I am’ feeling relaxed. I am relaxing. I am letting go of my worries and concerns, my mind is clearing. My mind is free of clutter. I am letting go of the day. I am letting go of worries and concerns. I’m letting go of the events of the day. I am thinking clearly. My body is relaxed, ready to perform. I am focusing on my body. I am taking a deep breath… exhaling slowly. I am poised for action. I am focusing on my body sensations. I am comfortable. I am prepared, fit, healthy,-well trained, strong, confident. I am confident I can meet the challenge of this run. I am taking a deep breath, inhaling all the air I can… exhaling slowly.

I can see myself running… my posture is erect, arms swinging back and forth crossing in front just about to midline. My shoulders are relax and my head is looking straight ahead. My eyes are focus 10 yards in front of me. I see the ground in front of me moving past steadily. My arms and legs are in perfect synchronization, moving effortlessly. My legs move back and forth like a pendulums. My feet glide over the ground, touching the surface only briefly, lightly, as if springs are in my legs. The heel of my foot strikes the ground first just for a second my foot roles forward, up to the toes as I push off from the forefoot, as my other leg lifts high and thrusts powerfully forward, powerfully striding forward, effortlessly, moving like a gazelle over the ground. I feel light. I have boundless energy and enthusiasm. I am moving effortlessly over the ground, I feel light, my feet are gliding over the surface, lightly touching, only for a second, moving forward gracefully, mechanically, powerfully, controlled, with spring in my stride …moving over the ground like a gazelle. Light. My legs move in perfect synchrony… automatic… and effortless.

I can feel my body moving smoothly. My body temperature is comfortably warm. There is a light flow of perspiration over my body. Perspiration drips from my forehead down my face perspiration drips down my neck, down my chest, down my back I feel a cool breeze, it cools my body; my singlet is wet, I feel the breeze blowing through my singlet, there is a cool sensation on my skin. My shorts are damp from perspiration the perspiration continues to drip down my legs, the light breeze blows across my skin, cooling my body. I am comfortably warm. I feel the moisture of my perspiration and cooling sensation of the wind.

Time is drifting by without notice, time is of no concern. I feel free of barriers. I feel confident. I feel free. I am strong. I am ready to do my workout.

I take a deep breath. Open my eyes. I rise; move deliberately and confidently into my workout.
I am prepared mentally and physically to succeed. I am relaxed. There is no pressure. I am focused on my workout. Nothing stands in my way. I will take three more slow deep breaths and go forth.

I’ll post the same script next but in a directive approach instead of first person. Visualization/mental rehearsal is one critical element to successful racing. If you would like to have a script developed for a unique circumstance or race situation, drop me a line. In the future, I hope to develop podcasts with various imagery scenarios.


About Dean Hebert

I’m a mental game coach, author and speaker. I work with individual athletes, parents, coaches, and teams on sports performance enhancement. Beyond my academic post-graduate work in sports psychology - the psychology behind athlete performance – I am a certified Mental Games Coaching Professional (MGCP) and certified hypnotherapist. I’ve authored several books and hundreds of articles. “Coach, I didn’t run because…” (2008) is a seriously light-hearted look at making excuses not to workout and how to overcome them. “Focus for Fitness” (2009) and “Screw the Goals Give me the Donut” (2010) are two of my eBooks on mental game approaches for the everyday athlete. I wrote these because I believe that everyone can benefit from the powerful mental techniques that the world’s best athletes use. I have been cited in Runners World, Best Health magazine (CN), SWEAT Magazine, and the Washington Examiner amongst many other publications. I have been a featured mental games coach in Runner’s World and for the internationally acclaimed trail running resource - I also regularly appear on sports and fitness talk shows such as LTKFitness, Runnersroundtable and for more than three years I have co-hosted a weekly video series with Coach Joe English for I specialize in mental toughness training. My clients include tennis, synchronized swimming, golf, race-kart, soccer, motocross, volleyball, MMA, cycling (road, off-road, time-trialist), running, duathlon and triathlon, basketball, football and baseball athletes. I have coached world-class athletes and athletes internationally. I have a passion for working with youth athletes and helping them apply mental game skills and techniques to all areas of life. Most importantly, my aim is to have people enjoy sports and life to their fullest through peak performances.
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3 Responses to Visualization & Running II

  1. Miki says:

    Thanks for the visualization technique Dean. I am going to try it out. I have been frustrated because I have hit a wall at 8 minute miles. I know I can go faster but I need to focus and not get distracted.

  2. Dean Hebert says:

    Remember, this technique will help break through barriers as long as you are also physically prepared to do so. Be sure that your training supports your goal of sub-8s. If it doesn’t then combine the mental with a revised physical program.

    If your training is indicating that you can race faster but you aren’t doing it then also integrate cues to specific portions of your race to keep you focused. By chopping the race into sections and having cues and focal affirmations to concentrate on you will be more likely to make that break through by not slowing down from distractions and getting off task.

  3. Dawn says:

    Wonderful ideas here…my fear is getting re-injured. After a marathon last fall had knee injury and keep coming back to it in my thoughts when running. I have strengthened the muscles with therapy and on my own, but still worry to excess and it holds me back. I am going to try this and see how I do. Visualize that my muscles are strong and powerful…thanks.

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