We have all heard that mental training is so important to running. And any of us who have raced can attest to why – when the going gets tough, the mentally tough get going! It’s very easy to want to quit while pushing a tough interval set or on your way to a personal best in a race. Learning how to get through these moments of self-doubt are so important to achieving your running goals. Often fear and self-doubt come from the unknown. And the reality is…chasing a personal best is unknown territory since it’s something you’ve never done before. One of the best ways to prep yourself mentally is to visualize what you want to do. There are two main reasons why:
1. Seeing is believing: visualizing the outcome you hope to achieve will make it more real to you and less unknown territory. This is known as outcome visualization. Imagine the finish line and the desired outcome on the clock the next time you’re pushing through a tough interval set.
2. You are actually creating a neurological connection; by visualizing the actual act of turning your legs over when tired, you are training your brain to perform the movement required. It almost becomes habit versus work. This is called process visualization.
Visualization combined with the physical work required are key elements in run training. If you’ve found yourself constantly falling short of a goal, it may be time to hone in on the mental aspect of your training through visualization.