Running the Race in My Mind

When Suzanne from Agent Athletica posted her October goal to do yoga or meditation daily and challenged others to do it, I jumped on the bandwagon. I've posted a few times about how I read Mind Gym: An Athlete's Guide to Inner Excellence, which encourages you to train your mind to think positively just as you would train your body. I haven't been consistent with that training, and with my goal race two weeks away, I need to get serious about it.

I'm committing to a minimum of ten minutes of daily meditation to visualize a positive race experience. I've been doing this at the end of the day right before bed. I ran the race last year, so I can visualize every aspect of it--parking my car, picking up my race bib, taking the shuttle to the start line, standing in the port-a-potty line, crossing the start line, walking through water stations, and crossing the finish line. I'm visualizing myself before the start feeling calm and relaxed. I am seeing myself taking deep breaths if I start to feel anxiety. I'm feeling confident, excited, ready. I'm feeling myself holding back on speed at the start, where you run down a hill and can easily pick up speed. I'm imagining the pretty fall leaves, the little waterfall beside the trail, the smattering of cheering spectators when the trail crosses the road, and the volunteers handing me water at the aid stations. I'm smelling the crisp fall air, enjoying the cool weather, and feeling the damp fall leaves under my feet. I'm feeling myself settling into my goal pace and being consistent with each mile. The first half of the race is gone before I know it. I am seeing the marker for mile 6 and hearing my breath, a little ragged now that I'm halfway through, in my ears. I am not panicking. I am not thinking I can't hold the pace. Instead, I'm feeling strong and in control. If my form starts to weaken, I straighten my spine, relax my shoulders, pick up my feet. If I start to feel any nausea or pain, I allow myself a brief walk break to shake it off. If I find myself slowing and am tired and feel like quitting, I focus on my breathing, stay calm, and maintain my pace. I do not give in. There goes 10 miles, then 11. I am feeling good, feeling strong. I'm almost there! I pick up the pace slightly. Mile 12. I call on every last ounce of energy I have and pick up the pace more. I give the hill just before the finish line all I have. At the top of the hill, I see the last downhill section and the finish line. I fly down the hill. As I cross the finish line, I have a huge smile on my face.

I will do this every night until the race. Come race day, I will have already run the race in my mind many times, and I will already have finished successfully. On race day, my body will achieve what my mind already did.

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