As I was driving home from a training run on Mt Evans last weekend, sitting in I-70 traffic, I started thinking about how the words “awesome” and “awful”, although fairly opposite by definition, sound pretty similar. I’m guessing they both come from the same root word-“awe”, which according to a quick Google search is defined as “a feeling of reverential respect mixed with fear or wonder”. Yup, that about sums up how I feel about Mt Evans. I’m betting that the Mt Evan’s Ascent will be a roller coaster that is both awesome and awful, possibly at the same time, and hopefully ultimately worth the battle.
I am at that weird place in training right before a race where there is really nothing you can do but sit back, relax, eat right, and hope that you’ve done the appropriate training to reach your goals. It’s sorta like that last hour before a big test. There is typically a fair amount of freaking out during this time, but cramming won’t help, and might actually hurt you. But there actually is something I can be doing: visualizing a successful race. I once heard about a study that had basketball players practice visualizing themselves shooting the perfect free-throw over and over again. They never actually touched a basketball, but their shooting average went up (sorry if that is incorrect basketball terminology). So just by merely imaging yourself performing your particular sport with perfection, you may actually improve your performance. The theory was that, if you do it right, you can “trick” (or teach if you are a glass half full kind of person) your brain into thinking you’ve physically practiced a bunch of free throws, and new neural pathways can be created, because your brain basically doesn’t know the difference between doing a free throw in real life and only imaging you are doing one (again you can choose to think of this as awesome that the brain is this powerful, or awful that the brain is this stupid!) Think of it as an imaginary dress rehearsal. It’s pretty cool stuff.
I’ve seen visualization mentioned in many other articles, so I figure it’s worth a shot. I’m not talking cheesy “The Secret” type stuff, just simply picturing myself running up the course, feeling strong and fast, pumping my arms and breathing steadily….I’m feeling better about it already!
And even if it doesn’t help, it’s unlikely to hurt me (note to self: do not visualize self tripping and falling!) If nothing else, doing it may help build confidence in my abilities and distract me from all of my nervous thoughts about what may go wrong during the race.
So time to sit back, eat carbs, and visualize success!
For info regarding visualization or “mental imagery”: