Visualise Your Marathon
Exercise calms the mind as it works the heart. Which makes it one of the best wellbeing techniques you can do for your body.
Many of our clients tell us that while they start yoga to build strength, suppleness and flexibility, it’s the visualisation and meditation techniques for the mind they come to love the most. Breathing alone can relax your muscles; often a massage therapy client will tense up if deep pressure is used, but when encouraged to breathe out slowly, the tightened muscles release much quicker.
While breathing is paramount to a calm mind and relaxed body, when it comes to marathons we find our clients need a little more help for those last few miles.
Visualisations techniques have been helping to prepare athletes for sports for decades, but you don't need to be a top athlete to start honing your own mental skill set for running. Whether your goal is a marathon, a charity race, or simply helping you to run faster for longer, visualisation is your minds way of training. It works by helping your auditory, kinaesthetic, visual and other bodily senses to improve performance. Try some of these techniques before your next run and see if you can improve your personal best.
Lie down, relax your body and breathe deeply. Stretch lightly, and listen to music if that's something you're used to when running.
Envision you are on your run - think of the smells, feelings and sights that you will encounter on the way.
Create an affirmation – a short and simple statement that you repeat to yourself as you breathe in and out.
During the Run
Eliminate negative thoughts - train your mind to think about what you want it to do and avoid thinking about what you don't. For example, if you start to think you won't finish the race, simply change that thought to how much you are enjoying the run – look for something to focus on that you like. Whether it’s trees, birds, other runners, supporters – anything to help change your mind set.
Look ahead and visualise the finish line – don't look down at your feet, which will knock your centre of gravity out.
These simple techniques can really make a big difference if practised often enough. We also incorporate visualisations in our Yoga for Runners classes, as we are firm believers that the mind needs exercising as much as the body does!
Abigail Park and Annie Johansen are co-founders of Chew Valley Wellbeing Centre.