Q&A: How to Approach Pre-Race Visualization
I’ve heard it’s good to visualize my race the day before/morning of. What are some things I should focus on to put myself in the right mindset?
Visualization is a powerful mental strategy for performance. There are a few important things to remember when we use this strategy to make it most effective.
The most important part of visualization is you want to make sure you are visualizing success. When you picture your race, you want to see yourself running well, feeling strong, and easily holding your pace. Typically for this type of visualization, I encourage the athlete to visualize from the external perspective, as if you are watching yourself from the sidelines.
As you mention, it can be effective to practice this strategy the morning of the race. I have athletes who may go through their race while waiting in the corral to get started. To be in the “right mindset,” you want to be relaxed and confident. I usually work with athletes to do some deep breathing before they begin visualizing so they are relaxed and focused in the moment.
Finally, you want to practice this strategy. The first time you use visualization should not be the day of the race. You want to create a script that works for you, using all of your senses, and practice it daily leading up to race day.
About the Author
Dr. Deborah Roche is a Counseling Psychologist at Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS).