I ran a pb in a 10 kms race in Eynsham on Sunday. So what? Nice sunny day, lovely flat course, very well organised. What was odd was that I'd had a hard training week with over 60 miles on the bike and about 25-30 running, with 2 swim sessions. I arrived late ; no time for a warm up ; I should not have run quickly (for me that is) but half way round I had a really strong mental image of what I would look and feel like while I was running the second half of the race. It would look smooth, feel strong and relaxed etc and blow me if that wasn't exactly what happened. Instead of blowing up I ran the second half faster, with good form and haven't really come down yet.

I tried it again on my recovery ride yesterday and a similar thing happened. It's hard to be sure if the brain drove the physical performance, or just unlocked the potential. Anyone experienced anything similar?


  • One of the biggest hurdles to overcome in running is I feel the mental barrier. Once we get past this I believe confidence improves and running reaches another level.

    Well done! You obviously 'cracked' the mental barrier on these occasions and was able to use it to perform at your best.

    I have experienced this kind of running and it feels powerful. I wish all runs felt that way!
  • This may sound really daft, but the week before the London Marathon 02 I ran a 10k pb,I came 19th out of 400 and was so pleased that I felt on such a high.

    I was unlucky not to get a place in the London Marathon this year, but instead I helped out on the course and was marshalling, and to see Paula Radcliffe run a great marathon, and again for the second weekend running I just felt on such a high.

    Ever since them weekends my runs have meant alot more to me and apart from flu and a slight injury to the ankle recently I feel really motivated and on a real high at the moment.

    Sometimes I think its not always to do with the training but mentally preparing ahead.
  • the power of the mind is amazing, did you know that some of your muscles are strong enough to break the bones they're attatched to but your mind sets barriers. there was a case of a woman who weighed about 100lbs, she picked up the front end of a car when someone (i think it was her child) was trapped underneath it, i personally think she was able to do it because her mind allowed her to.

    another example of the minds power, or weakness, is if you tell someone to run until they can't anymore, when they give up and stop, offer them £1,000,000 to sprint 100m, i garantee they will be able to. thats because they weren't too tired, but their mind gave up.

    if you think about it, the mental thing is the only difference really between a good run and an amazing run. when i get into the zone when i'm running, i feel invincible, i feel incredible, and light, but above all, i feel more in touch with my body then at any other time in my life, and thats a mental connection.

    sorry, i didn't mean to go on and bore you all but i find the power of the mind unbelievable.

  • On a slightly different note, my cousin used visualisation when she had her first child, and managed to get through it all without any painkillers. A definite case of mind over matter!
  • I find I run better when I concentrate on running well i.e good form and running lightly. Sometimes you just get in the grove and you can really push it with a sense of elation rather than pain! Very annoying when you can't go out and repeat it the next day! perhaps that's the balance between work and rest.
  • Thanks for the replies chaps. I guess I'm realising that my racing in particular is more than just the sum of the hard miles I do and that it's as much to do with the pictures and images I give myself as my pure physical condition.

    I know this probabaly sounds really sad but to have broken 50 minutes ( bear in mind I'm a knackered 46 year old) was a real thrill, and having done it once I'm convinced I can run even quicker now.
  • Simon, you are not at all sad - I'm almost 20 years younger than you, and I have to tell you that you'd beat me! So well done!
  • Wish I could get it to work for my running. I've used visualisation - with some success - as an aid to slip catching in my other major sport, cricket.
    It strikes me that while visualising getting one's technique and/or co-ordination right is one thing, and might well give you the confidence to get it right more often, trying to do the same for running is a different matter. Too tired to take this further I'm afraid.
  • Visualisation is an extremely powerful tool in our sports' armoury. The Aussies took the America's Cup off the Yanks (in sailing) after 130 years partly because they employed a sports psychologist who taught them to visualise being in the lead - a situation they had never experienced. This meant that when they did get into the lead they were familiar with the feel and the sounds - e.g. the sound of a powerful bow wave behind them rather then the silence of a boat ahead. I run up a nasty little nippy bit during training and occasionally I have a fleeting thought that it would be nice to stop and walk. At the instant that I have that thought the muscles in the back of my leg seem to contract in readiness for stopping. Our bodies know exactly what our minds want! Unfortunately I know have to consciously think other thoughts to block out that thought - else I will have to stop and walk. Weird or what
  • It is a fascinating topic isn't it, I'd like to hear more about how people use this during (shorter) races since I dread it every time I'm starting a race. I'm actually scared of the pain to come when running intensively (e.g. 10K) and the first mile I always regret even starting.
  • the book "programed to run" use this and other thing. It too 10 mins off my half marathon time.
  • Hi again ; one of the other things the visualisation technique has started to help me do is to change the meaning of things.

    For instance when I start to feel pain, instead of thinking, oh my god it's hurting I change it to mean, great I've been expecting this and I know that I'm running at a good pace now. The trick is then to relax into the pain rather than stiffen and tense against it. All the time I have the picture of a smooth flowing action to my running. I imagine how other people would describe the way I look when I run.

    After a lot of failed attempts it seems to have started working. I'll try and dig out the reading refrences for you Evil Pixie.
    Oh the other thing is that fail gets deleted from the vocabulary : it's either win or learn. Best of luck!
  • there is one mental trick which i'm starting to try (i've only just started it, so i can't tell you the results). when you start to feel pain, and start to find it hard, repeat in your head, "i'm enjoying this, i'm enjoying this, i'm enjoying this..." and so on. apparantly after a while your mind starts to relate the pain of running (or anything for that matter) with good things, and your mind wont try and get you to stop, but to push harder. i think its worth a try. if i remember i'll let you know how i get on.

  • Evil Pixie :

    A couple of books on the Power of Belief are Feal the Fear and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers, and Awaken the Giant Within by Anthony Robbins :

    On Mastering your Motivation there's a book by Jim Steele/Colin Hiles/Martin Coburn called Peak Performance in Action.

    There is also some really good stuff by Speakers International who are management consultants specialising in commercial growth through personal development. Sounds a bit heavy but I went through one of their courses and it was brilliant fun. Their tel no is 0171 602 9498. I think they publish support material which is well worth a look.

    Happy reading!!
  • This is all very interesting. I am DESPERATE to get a sub 50 mins 10k time. (I worry that at my age (45) I will have limited time to improve my times). My previous fastest being 51.10. I did a race on Sunday - and all my pre-race preparation was by the book. I felt good on the day, then totally went into a slump at about 4 miles. I don't know if it was a mental or physical slump, but suffice to say I felt like giving up. I didn't, and went on to get a disappointing time of 51.37. So - I was even SLOWER than last year (although in fairness it was VERY WINDY! unlike last year), yet I think I should be getting a bit quicker with all the training I do (hills, speedwork, u name it). Maybe visulisation is the answer for me! Maybe I just need to try harder........... NB
  • Ok, now this is getting weird. Today my neighbour and I ran the Bromham 10k. Blustery but a nice, dry, very cold day.
    Flat fast local course ; very well organised.

    On the Saturday I was waiting for my girlfriend to have hair done ; 3 hours!!?? and of course she was worth the wait!!

    While I was waiting I re-read the mental preparation section of Amby Burfoot's Complete Runner : (a Runner's World publication)

    Worked on strong mental images again, but was secretly thinking that maybe my last pb was all just a happy co-incidence.

    Wrong !! I took another 46 seconds off my 10k pb to finish in 48.47. That's 1 minute 48 secs off my previous 10k pb in the space of 3 weeks???

    Maybe a lot of it is to do with having trained for and run 3 half marathons this year but this is the end of a long hard year for me, so this shouldn't be happening. Don't get me wrong I'm not complaining but there is definitely something different happening with my running.

    Happy boy today!!
  • I always used to struggle with the motivational elements of running until I discovered visualisation.

    The problem was always the 'deep foreboding' I would feel towards my run... all day I'd be thinking "oh no, I 've got to run tonight" etc etc. I'd try not to think about sometimes. So, when the time came to pull on my running shoes I'd either be facing something I'd been dreading all day or the shock of the prospect would really put me off.

    Now, I make a conscious effort to think of good things all day about my run.. I picture myself running effortlessly with long strides along the actual route... of approaching the last 1/2 maile and of finishing, but more importantly, of actually doing and enjoying the run.

    When I come to pull on the shoes, it doesn't seem such a chore.
  • <visualising a boing>
  • What does that mean?
  • I was boinging this thread up for someone!...just thought i'd stay on topic
  • Happened to me too weeks before NYC marathon. Sequences like a movie clip were constantly playing through my mind. This helped me during the training too.
  • I sometimes wonder if those that describe themselves as plodders - or who are constantly self depracating about their running - aren't limiting their achievements. I'd hate this to sound like an insult because I know I limit myself in different areas of my life too and I am not suggesting being positive is in any way easy. I know I've run races in a negative frame of mind and done poorly and I am sure that it was a case of not being properly focussed.

    It sounds like crap but the last race I did I found repeating John Fashanu's mantra (I told you it sounded like crap!) ReFeCo helped a bit - Relax Focus Come On! Also trying to submerge yourself into the feeling of running and block out extraneous thoughts - and associating with the pain rather than worrying about it - are both helpful.
    I agree popsider that some 'plodders' and other runners too, are limiting their own achievements. It's important not to compare your own running to others when measuring progress (although hard not to do)..

    I am a slow runner and although I had read various articles on visualisation etc, just thought it was for hard/fast/very competitive runners. However an experience a couple of years ago changed my mind.

    I was running the Robin Hood Marathon, at my usual 5 hour + pace, when at mile 22ish a police motorcyclist offered to lead me for the next mile or so along the coned section of road, where we turned through Notts Forest ground. So there we were, the police bike with blue flashing lights, the traffic at a standstill on the otherside of the road - and suddenly I felt really proud and important, my head automatically went up, the pain in my legs was forgotten and I started to stride out down that road, I ran my fastest mile of the race. I thanked the MPC, and finished the rest of the race in my best marathon time that year, and from that point on I have continued to set PB's every year in various distances, mainly because I believe I can do it and visualise myself striding along. Before I just told myself that I was doing too many distance events to improve on time and this was affecting my shorter race times - rubbish. I just never thought I could do it.
  • okay not everyone can complete at the Olympics, but David Hemery was a keen exponent of visualisation. When he won gold in the 400mhurdles at the 68 Olympics (in a new world record) he did so from lane eight. Traditionally, lane eight has always been the least favoured by any athlete. When asked if he had been worried about running on the outside he replied that he hadn't been worried at all as he had spent many hours visualising himself winning the race from every lane and in every type of condition. Winning from lane eight proved no problem as he had already 'seen' himself do it.

    So, there you go...
    so there's nothing wrong with our legs - it's our brains that need training..
  • Yes shades, you are absolutely right! The point is, if you are fit enough to run 6 miles (which, let's face it, many people probably are without realising it) how well you run that 6 miles is down much more to your brain power than your muscle power.
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