This post is in response to the daily prompt: All It’s Cracked Up to Be – Tell us about a time when everything actually turned out exactly as you’d hoped.
One of the most powerful tools I had at my disposal while racing in college was the art of visualization. In fact it has been a big part of any of my races since I was taught how to do it when I was 10. I love being able to close my eyes and experience the sights, sounds, and smells of race day. To be able to mentally search and prep myself, to see what I would do before and during the first part of the race, anything to get me ready. I don’t know if it’s a common practice, as very few of my teammates ever did it, but it worked for me.
Visualization was not just reserved for race days either. I used it if I knew a work out was going to be tough or when I needed to hit a certain milestone in a training run. Needless to say, most of times when I visualized a run or race it did not turn out that way, but the times that they did were special.
The time that sticks out the most in my mind was during my Junior year of college, the Monday two weeks before my second straight national cross country meet. I was scheduled to be on the track for 9 x 500m at 85 seconds (68 sec quarter mile pace). I was pretty beet up from the conference meet the Saturday before and the drive back and I was not looking forward to running at race pace in practice. About an hour before practice I just sat down and closed my eyes and visualized my shadow, projected by the lights around the track, running and my watch showing 17, 34, 51, 68, 85 over and over again. I warmed up and got on the track, took off my watch, and waited for my coach to start me. I started and he called out the 100m splits as I ran the first one; “17”, “34”, “51”, “68”, “85”. Same for the second and third one. For the fourth and fifth ones I only heard “34” and “85” and after that I only heard “85” for the remaining four.
I sat down with coach after I got back from my cool down and he only said one word before showing me all my splits; “Automatic.” My splits only varied by three tenths of a second, all at 85 seconds. All as I visualized them.