How What’s In Your Head Makes YOU WIN —– BY James Harper – Athletic Trainer ——
Ask most triathletes and they will tell you they have never used visualization as a training tool for their Ironman Triathlons. In fact, they most likely have little idea what its about. It’s surprising considering that world class athletes have used vislualization to enhance their training and race performance for many years.
You may well have watched athletes in action without realizing they were using a form of visualization at that very moment. For example, have you ever watched a high jumper in the Olympic Games? Before they make their approach to the bar, they have already visualized the entire jump in their mind. Its the very same with world class divers. Before they ever leave the board or platform they visualize the dive to reinforce in their memory, every intricate aspect of that dive.
I remember reading an interview of Canadian figure skating champion Elizabeth Manley after the 1984 Winter Olympics. She stated that a big part of her training was laying down, relaxing and visualizing her entire long program in her mind. Often she would get to a very difficult spot in the program and see herself falling. She would start over and do it again and again until one day she visualized a perfect performance. It was that day that she knew she was ready to perform it on the ice. She skated a flawless program during the Olympic Games and won a silver medal and it was close to being gold.
Visualization can easily be incorporated into your Ironman Triathlon training.
I found that once I learned the proper way to swim–with a long, smooth gliding stroke–that visualization was instrumental in imprinting that stroke into my memory. You can do it as well. On those days when you just need a physical break or the weather is just plain lousy, give this a try.
Find a quite place and relax and imagine yourself at your Ironman race start. Go over exactly how you want the swim to unfold. Where you want to be when the gun goes off–the long, smooth, relaxed stroke you plan to use and how you intend to make your transition from swim to bike. You can visualize your entire race, so come race day, nothing is left to chance. You can even visualize something going wrong. For instance a flat tire. You will just relax, take it in stride, change that tire, and carry on with your race.
Visualization is just a great training tool that I would recommend you incorporate into your Ironman program.
When you’re visualizing your race don’t forget to imagine yourself in that last 50 feet to the finish line and how it will feel to complete your first Ironman Triathlon.