Most athletes spend thousands of dollars on equipment and training for an Ironman. Many fancy gadgets are purchased, nutrition tips and tricks are implemented, and much time is spent training for the event. However, two extremely important components of any training program that are often overlooked are visualization and focus.
When it pertains to endurance training and racing, I have athletes focus on two parts of visualization – crossing the finish line, and being strong on the hills or running strong with perfect form. These are two very important points of visualization to have during a race. You see, your mind is a VERY powerful tool. Keep reading to learn how visualization and focus can help you reach your goals.
Why Visualize and Focus?
Having positive thoughts during times of mental and/or physical duress can have a huge impact on your performance. This is true during endurance training, too. However, in endurance training, it is also important to visualize the things that could possibly go wrong during the race. I can personally attest to the benefits of visualizing and planning. During my first Ironman, I had several mishaps. I used visualization to guide me to the correct reaction without panic.
Create a “problem” situation and visualize how you will overcome it in a positive manner. As an example on the swim, you are in the water with 2,000-3,000 other racers. Visualize the mass start, swimming over people, people swimming over you, or your goggles getting knocked off. Other problems you may face during an endurance event include getting a flat tire, feeling bad on the run, or getting cramps. Visualize problems and solutions during your training, so if you encounter a problem during a race, you will know how to appropriately react to the situation.
What to Visualize
Visualize and plan for anything that could go wrong. Think about an NFL quarterback. He reviews film, learns plays from his playbook and then visualizes the play unfolding in his mind, before stepping on the field. He also visualizes disruptions to the plays, so if a defender disrupts his plan, he immediately switches to a back up plan, without getting stressed. Because he has visualized these obstacles, he easily makes positive adjustments.
When to Focus
Along with visualization comes focus. An endurance event, such as an Ironman, is a long grueling event. Throughout the day, you can have moments of doubt and question your ability to finish, or finish well. Positive focus comes into play when you’re having these thoughts. During the swim, focus on drafting and continuous motion. During the bike, focus on controlling your heart rate and keeping a steady cadence. During the run, when most people begin to fade, focus on maintaining your form and getting closer to the finish line with each stride.
VISUALIZE AND FOCUS
Visualize yourself overcoming any obstacles you encounter during your race and focus on all the training that you have done to reach your goal. I personally focus on hearing the words “Morris Brossette YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!!!” Please comment below with how visualization and focus have helped you. What challenges have you visualized and planned for during training and racing? What positive thoughts do you use to help you hold your form, continue forward progress, and reach your goal?