Visualizations for Runners

Running is hard, hard physically and hard mentally especially when you are training for a certain goal distance or pace. It can and does beat up your body a bit, logistically its hard to fit in sometimes and it can play tricks on your head. While all of that stuff is hard it also makes running a great metaphor for life. Thinking the right things and visualizing certain things when you’re going through something tough can make all the difference in the moment. Now that I’m back to serious half training these are starting to come flooding back. Sometimes these visualizations go along with a particular type of run so I’ll link other articles that you might find helpful with that sort of run too. If you have one thing you like to think about in these sorts of situations I’d love to hear about it too. So when the tough get going (that’s you) here’s somethings to think about that might help!

Repair during recovery runs

Recovery runs are pretty much no fun, well at least I think that and I’m probably not alone. We might struggle during a recovery run for a variety of reasons. We might have a hard time slowing down and going as slow as we should. I find that a recovery run feels SO MUCH harder than any other run. I feel like I’m giving it so much effort but it doesn’t seem to be coming out in my running. You might also feel physically sore or even a little bit of pain. I think it’s helpful to remember why you are doing a recovery run in the first place. The whole idea here is to have one relatively short run where you move all the damage you did last run all at once. Your muscles are sore because of lactic acid build up and this run aims to move that through and out of those muscles gently and all at once. Then hopefully you can get back to hard work on your very next run. So as your running (struggling) through your recovery run. Picture your sad sore muscles full of mean old lactic acid clearing out and getting happy. This usually coincides with how you’re feeling during a recovery run too, it sucks the most at first and then gets better. For lots of other tips specifically on recovery runs check out this post.

A Clydesdale during long runs

Just like recovery runs most of us don’t go as slow as we should on long runs. Long runs are all about time on your feet and that adds up fast in training. You’ll probably end up running for multiple hours at a time and that can get pretty boring pretty fast. It’s no wonder we have a tendency to speed up to get it over with sooner but that’s less than ideal. You’ll end up taking too much out of the tank during your long run and end up exhausted for all the other workouts that week and onwards in training. Try instead to picture yourself as a Clydesdale horse, strong and capable of just putting one foot in front of the other forever.  These horses are used for long distances and heavy hauling and not classically for speed. They are very agreeable and sort of blindly just keep doing what their rider wants. Picture yourself like the Clydesdale to your driver the training plan. Being strong isn’t always about being fast sometimes its just about getting there in one piece. Just keep going slow and strong, on and on and get to the other end.

A return while injured

There is nothing worse than being injured and not able to run. Okay well there is a lot that’s worse but it doesn’t always feel that way. The happy truth is that most runners can return to and surpass where they were before after an injury if they do just a little bit of work. Resting, physio and rehabbing activities will get most runners back in the game. The thing is a lot of people don’t do that work and don’t return to running. It is weirdly hard to motivate yourself in that predicament to actually do your exercises. Every time negative thoughts about your injury come into your head counter them with the idea of returning to running. Picture yourself having fun at your favorite upcoming race, getting that medal or the running your favorite route at sunset. In this case picturing your return can really help to make it real.

Months of training at the start line

When you’re standing at the start line of a race you’ve trained for nerves and voices can still tell you that you can’t do it. Especially the first time you cover a distance. Then you look around at everyone else and it only gets worse. That’s the perfect moment to really think back on your training. Think about just how many weeks of your life you devoted to this. Think about your longest long run, it was just a few km short of today. Think about your longest speed workout and how far that program as a whole took you. After all that training you might have even rested for a taper period. You can do this! You’ve done all the hard work and today is the reward. When it gets tough mid race keep thinking about all those long runs and how that training plan you followed is and was specifically designed to get you through what you are doing right now! Virtually all the people that trained the way you did, finished the race, you will too!

Waking up excited and full of energy at bedtime

I can’t claim to have come up with this on my own but I have looked long and hard for where I read it to no avail. That’s probably because when I originally read it I dismissed it and thought, “yeah right!” But since it asked so little of me I tried it anyway. As I was drifting off to sleep before a planned very early morning workout as suggested I pictured waking up with the alarm, refreshed, full of energy and ready to run. And you know what? It actually worked! Now I swear by this little life changer. Even if you much prefer to workout in the evening like me working a training program in addition to life sometime means you have to see 5:30 am in the morning. Yes there is one of those in the morning too. Try to drift off thinking about your cute outfit and being excited when you wake up and it really will help, probably more than you think! Here’s how I transformed (at least partially) into a morning runner.

Getting stronger when you’re getting slower

It’s not uncommon to find yourself getting slower as you progress through a long training program. No one says you’ll feel great about that but at least take heart that your not alone. You might find every run is getting slower, your long runs are starting to require legit walk breaks or like me speed workouts are getting damn near as slow as recovery runs. The thing is you’re pushing through increasing milage for weeks and weeks that turn into months and that does add up. It can be disheartening that you are doing all this work only to be getting slower as time goes on. Plus the how slow am I going to be on race day freak out. Here’s the thing yes your plan is targeting you to get faster but that’s not all it’s doing. You’re also building endurance at the same time. First appreciate that you are in fact going further and further every single week because that is an accomplishment. Instead picture yourself getting stronger even if you’re going slower. Picture your lung capacity growing, your heart pumping more efficiently, your muscles growing and your mental toughness well that’s off the charts. Try to remind yourself that as you go you are progressing and getting so much stronger. As for the speed for a lot of runners that’s only realized after the taper, that rest period does amazing things for your race day results. 

What run on the schedule get’s you thinking in a dedicated way? What do you think about what that happens and will you be picturing yourself as one of the Budweiser Clydesdales on you next long run?

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