The moments before the big race (Mile walk, 5K, 13.1 Half Marathon, 26.2 Marathon, 50-mile bike ride, etc.) are crucial. The way we treat our bodies in the moments before the event definitely have an affect on our performance. What about the mind though?
I never spent time prior to a race or bike ride separated and contemplating the upcoming event. I would take a mental recording of the event and beat myself up over a mistake that would cost me time. Where I would become even more annoyed at myself was that I would repeat the same mistake. I’d attack a hill rather than find my cadence. I started asking myself “why am I getting my butt handed to me on these hills?” I never took a moment to reflect. I had no control.
When we look at our performance in the frame of a mirror, we allow for the mind and body to connect. There is strength in producing a mental image that is appropriate and open to viewing the mistake. Control comes from letting go and viewing our performance without judgment. I know you want to crush a PR in your next race or event, but have you taken a moment to visualize this? Use the script below and see what happens :).
Controllability – Make the image do what you want it to do. Many athletes have difficulty controlling their images, often repeating the same mistake over and over, or failing to conjure up the appropriate image. Learn how to program your own “internal computer” so you are confident and focused on those things you want to occur.
Getting Ready for the Race Visualization – http://www.key-hypnosis.com/Self-Help/Visualization-Techniques/LV7-Sports-Visualisation-Script.php
Allow your mind to wander off to the meeting…. See the track… the people… see the other runners… the officials… the time keepers…
None of that is important… none of that bothers you…
Because you are there to win….
And as you get onto that track… you start warming up….
and inside you are feeling loose… and relaxed…
And everything is prepared… and you are fit and strong…. and all that training …. all that preparation… is coming back to you … you feel totally composed…. completely at ease… completely relaxed… and ready for what is to come.
In a quick Google search for “visualization and sports research,” the following links came to my attention.
Mental imagery has significant benefits to athletes. I’ll continue to work my tail off to get local sports teams, clubs and AAU groups to understand that time needs to be spent teaching their athletes the power of visualization. There is power in the positive and the connection of the body with the mind. And this connection needs to be nourished in the positive, allowed to happen in an environment free from judgment and (and probably the hardest for athletes) also allowed to happen in an environment free from competition. All thoughts and feelings need to be accounted for and allowed to be expressed. You will be amazed at how your body and mind will react to competition when you’ve been given time to decompress the mind before the war.
Pre-Competition Visualization – http://www.key-hypnosis.com/Self-Help/Visualization-Techniques/LV7-Sports-Visualisation-Script.php
Now take a deep breath and just …. let it all go…
Take another deep breath …. and just allow your mind to clear…. that’s good.
I want you to imagine a day…. a perfect day…. a day when you waken up.. and every thing seems just right…. and you think about the day and you know that today is the day that has the most important race of your life….
Today is the day when you are going to show everyone…. but especially yourself… what you can do.
Today is the day when you have absolute certainty…. and you can feel it, you can feel it in your heart… you can feel it in every heartbeat… you can feel it in your mind…
And as you think about it you can feel a wave of relaxation spreading from the middle of your forehead… across your eyes… and down your cheeks…. down through your jaw… and your neck… and your shoulders relax… and your chest is relaxed and your tummy relaxes.. and you can feel a way going all the way down… down through your thighs… and your calves and your feet…. down your arms.. all the way down to your fingers…. Totally relaxed.
Our “Performance Yoga” class has introduced the idea of visualizations. In our next series of classes, the five key components to visualizations will be shared culminating in a visual meditation. Time to get past those negative thoughts on the mistakes that we make and enjoy the present :).
Vividness – a vivid image is one in which the imagined events are realistic, and multi-sensory, and as detailed as possible. The closer the image is to the real thing in terms of thoughts, emotions, senses, and actions, the better the transfer should be to actual performance. The key is to use as many senses as possible (e.g., see the action, feel yourself moving, hear the sounds, smell the smells), and to try and recreate the feel of the movement as if you are actually doing it (“feelization”). For instance, Sport Psychologist Dick Coop suggests golfers incorporate two levels of visualization on every shot; first create a mental movie of the way you want the ball to fly (ball flight to the target) and second, translation of that picture into an image of how the body should move in order to hit the shot (rhythm and feel of hitting a solid shot or putt). Key is to create a vivid, detailed, and confident image.
from “Teaching Athletes Visualization and Mental Imagery Skills” by David Yukelson, Ph.D. Penn State University
Modified from … http://www.innerhealthstudio.com/visualization-relaxation.html
Imagine you are walking toward the ocean…. walking through a beautiful, tropical forest….
You can hear the waves up ahead…. you can smell the ocean spray…. the air is moist and warm…. feel a pleasant, cool breeze blowing through the trees….
You walk along a path….coming closer to the sea….as you come to the edge of the trees, you see the brilliant aqua color of the ocean ahead….
You walk out of the forest and onto a long stretch of white sand…. the sand is very soft powder…. imagine taking off your shoes, and walking through the hot, white sand toward the water….
The beach is wide and long….
Hear the waves crashing to the shore….
Smell the clean salt water and beach….
You gaze again toward the water…. it is a bright blue-green….
See the waves washing up onto the sand….. and receding back toward the ocean…. washing up…. and flowing back down….. enjoy the ever-repeating rhythm of the waves…
Imagine yourself walking toward the water…. over the fine, hot sand…. you are feeling very hot….
As you approach the water, you can feel the mist from the ocean on your skin. You walk closer to the waves, and feel the sand becoming wet and firm….
A wave washes over the sand toward you…. and touches your toes before receding…
As you step forward, more waves wash over your feet… feel the cool water provide relief from the heat….
Walk further into the clear, clean water…. you can see the white sand under the water…. the water is a pleasant, relaxing temperature…. providing relief from the hot sun… cool but not cold….
You walk further into the water if you wish…. swim if you want to…. enjoy the ocean for a few minutes….. allow the visualization relaxation to deepen…. more and more relaxed… enjoy the ocean….
Now you are feeling calm and refreshed…
You walk back out of the water and onto the beach…
Stroll along the beach at the water’s edge…. free of worries… no stress… calm….. enjoying this holiday….
Up ahead is a comfortable lounge chair and towel, just for you…
You feel peaceful and relaxed…. allow all your stresses to melt away….
When I first came with the realization that I wanted to provide a class for folks that utilize athletics, hobbies and sports, I didn’t have a clear direction on where I wanted to go. I’m excited that I now feel that I have a direction. I am excited to learn more about visualization techniques and start to bring them to my Monday evening classes. I fell in love with how Yoga connects the body to the mind over the course of a practice. The bond created there provides a person much needed ownership. I feel that that bond allows for a lot of freedom throughout the thought process. It lets you experience the moment more clearly and with yourself. There is no equipment or other materials needed … just you :).
Check out the Visualization Tips below and thanks for reading :).
5 Important Visualization Tips
(from the personal growth library)
Relax: Visualization works best when you are completely relaxed. Before any visualization session, lie down or sit in a straight-backed chair with your feet on the ground. Keep your spine straight. Do a few minutes of meditation in order to quiet your mind and relax fully.
Set Your Intention: Identify what you truly desire. What do you truly want? Do you believe it can exist for you? Take time with this step.
Focus On What You Want, Not What You Don’t Want: We see what we look for. In visualizing, and in life in general, the more you focus on what you don’t want, the more you seem to get it. Keep your focus solidly on what you want. For example, instead of thinking “eliminate stress,” focus on “being perfectly healthy and relaxed.”
Don’t Struggle: Visualizing may be difficult at first, but don’t struggle or try too hard. People say visualizing is like holding a bird: hold it too loose and you lose it; hold it too tightly and you crush it. Keep your concentration as if you’re holding the bird. Also, if you’re having a hard time, return to your intention. Do you truly want what you’re visualizing? Or, is it something you think you “should” be, do, or have?
Express Your Highest Self: Visualizations work best when they express your highest self and your highest aspirations.
Injury Prevention – is an effort to prevent or reduce the severity of bodily injuries caused by external mechanisms, such as accidents, before they occur.
The majority of our injuries are overuse injuries, stemming from the repetitive nature of endurance sports. When there’s an imbalance in the body that makes it function slightly out of alignment, piling on mile after mile of training can begin to grate on the body, leading to inflammation and excessive wear on the tissues. Yoga poses facilitate a self-awareness that can help you notice your own skeletal misalignments.
Constant physical, mental and emotional stress overtaxes the sympathetic nervous system (your fight or flight response) and the adrenal glands. Yoga helps to engage the parasympathetic nervous system (allowing you to relax and save energy) and restore balance to the body. This helps you sleep better, recover faster and enjoy yourself more.
BOOK – “The Athlete’s Guide to Yoga” by Sage Rountree.