The Power of Visualization. Visual learners are more likely to find it easier to understand pictures. When looking into visualization and the mind of an athlete, as cyclists, as a runner, and as a triathlete we use visualization in various ways.
Pre-race is the most common visualization, preparing one’s mind through a virtual route or sections of the route. This including a steep hill climb or a switchback that is playing on their minds. The power tool of visualization can be used in the chase down of another runner or cyclist in your race or ride. Visualization tactics are commonly used by athletes when fighting off the grit of pure physical exhaustion.
Visualization success is an important step to outlying your superstar athletic potential and excelling at your personal best. I can tell you from experience, if you don’t believe you can win then it will never happen. Get in the habit of creating positive habits and a positive mindset. Visualizing positive performances, even in training rides. If you know you have a 10 mile run planned. Visualize that day and prior to your run by pacing each mile at exactly the pace you are looking to target. I.E. “9 minute miles.” If you know you have hill repeats planned for your cycling training session, visualize prior to the session, nailing each hill and succeeding. I will often visualize the pain in my legs from the hills and my final race or training time on the hills.
Start a visualization routine. The purpose of visualization to your perfect run/ride/race or just a tricky part of the ride, such as a hill climb or switchback is to mentally guide you through the rough patches and carry you out to the other end. This reducing stress and boosting confidence in your overall race day/training session performance.
By seeing the ride while in a calm and relaxed state, you are taking control of any emotions and fears of the monkey mind. Overall, creating your own positive start, in between and to the finish line.
Creating a routine; some athletes will repeat their visualization every night leading up to the race. Others will come up with unpredicted scenarios to prep for the unexpected. This aiding in one’s race day prep for a calm centered participant when chaos may arise. These chaotic scenarios we hope never to occur to anyone. The only thing left to do within our positive visualization prep is to turn it into reality. Resulting in a positive performance and happy racer.
Its race day, turn on your visualization pack. Many athletes have their own personal tricks when it comes down to the wire of powering the mind to increase speed, stamina, positive self-talk, chasing racers and conquering hills. One technique that I have heard over the years in my own training and in reference of pointers from other riders and runners over the years has been the visualization of bungee cords. This told in different context from different athletes of how they understood the concept. Here’s how I understood the visualization concept and hope this concept drives speed into you in your own sessions.
Pertaining to cyclists, in the bungee cord visualization. The rider “hooks” to a lamp post, tree or a corner. Then speeds up to propel one’s self in the race. This propel acts as a bungee cord, literally flinging the cyclists right out into the front lines. This visualization is thought of more on terms of adding a forward momentum into one’s race pace. Adding to an individual’s racing mind of feelings of aggression, positive mindset with an in charge attitude and pump in speed.
Race day tools to keep in mind for pre-race nerves; otherwise stated as techniques you may find helpful for combinations of exhaustion, calming the mind, finding balance when unexpected circumstances arise and going all out in your race pace. Please do experiment and use these tools how they suit you in your training sessions and on race day.
- Count your breath. Some athletes will close their eyes; I prefer to settle my eye lids. lightly with ease. Take a deep breath in through the nose and exhale pushing it out through the nose. In yoga, we refer to this breath as our “Ujjayi Breath or yoga breath”.
- Visualize breathing in “energy of calmness, positivity, and confidence” into your lungs. Exhaling and releasing any stress or tension.
- Silently to oneself repeat your race Mantra or guide word. Recall why you started training and what this race is for you.
- Roll your head side to side and shoulders, sweep your arms up over head as you inhale and release them down as you exhale. (When Fighting hills, I find this strategy the most useful)
- Listen to the sound of your breath. Breathing deep, and breathing slowly. Race pace breathing sound; allow your breath to guide you through your race.
- As you flow through your race day and training sessions, visualize your secure place. That be a beach, cabin in the woods, or a high mountain top. Take time in your race to conjure a detailed picture using all of your senses including taste, smell, sound and sight.
- Visualize what you want to feel like at the end of the race or training session. Come up with a word or feeling that describes how you will feel crushing your goals. I.e.: “Energetic”, “Accomplished”.
- Lastly, show everyone how hard you have been training and you will not let yourself down with this positive mindset.
Logging miles, nutrition, mantras and even your recovery days. Having your training manual can be a huge motivator and confidence builder when looking back to how hard you have worked in your training to get where you need to be on race day. Keep your mantras in mind when attacking those hills and knowing that the physical body can do the work. Our positive mindset is our key to kicking negative mind flow patterns to the curve.
Experiment and use these tools how they suit you in your training sessions and on race day. Building a powerful positive perspective on your training mindset will only give you the advantage you need. Continue to thrive in the things you do best, allow your mind to flow with ease and grow a more loving attitude in your performance goals. Good luck on race day!
Coach Ali is a Personal Trainer, Group fitness Instructor, Nutrition coach, and Yoga instructor. Ali loves anything with fun and adventure in it. From cycling with She rides, to running her first Ragnar relay the end of this summer, and hiking NH's 48 4,000 footers with friends and her two adventure dogs fun is top priority!
Contact coach Ali at NHEndurancelife@gmail.com
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