When you run, how often do you use your imagination? It’s time to get in touch with your creative right brain! You are running in heat and humidity but pretend you are running in Siberia or the Arctic Circle. Imagine the opposite of what you are struggling with during your runs. After all, we must distract ourselves from heat & humidity, right? Or pretend you have a portable protective and deflective forcefield/windshield to protect you from the fierce vicious winds that can take our breath away during runs.
Yes, the power of imagination is a secret weapon that runners have but we forget to use. Or we will have vivid helpful imaginations during training but forget to tap that ability during races or vice versa. It doesn’t take a lot of effort to start incorporating this into your training or races.
How do we practice imagination while running in a productive way without turning it into fruitless daydreaming? It takes a little bit of laser-like focus.
First, before running, close your eyes and visualize success and positivity flowing through you. Think of and see happy running images. Sunny forest-filled runs with gleaming flowers that reflect light your direction, birds that sing sweetly, animals that sprint in front of your path or run parallel to you. Or you are running on clouds without a timer, free of the hurried need to rush home to do work or conquer your to-do list. Or perhaps you are running in the Caribbean or some tropical location of your choice. Your calm, happy place should be where you visit before running. Lock a few of these images in your brain because we are going to use them later. Imagine you are running under a gorgeous moon or beautiful twinkling stars that fill you with strength and power you need throughout your body, mind, and spirit. Where is that safe happy place for you that relaxes you? It may be near, it may be far away but with your imagination, it is within reach.
Second, while running, run mindfully but allow yourself to daydream a little by finding ways to distract your brain from the challenges of the run: the cold, wind, snow, sleet, ice, rain, heat, humidity, fatigue, etc. It’s a little bit of a balancing act. A happy memory of your choice will suffice. Perhaps a successful race where you charged at the finish to win a medal. Or a run or race where you exceeded your expectations because you believed in yourself. We must believe we can succeed.
Third, adjust your imagineering accordingly if a memory or happy running thought doesn’t work. Sometimes we have to shift the internal running music or mindset to find the right successful image for a particular situation or challenge.
Fourth, know that imagination-powered running, imagineering if you will, takes time and practice. But it’s important. The positive visualization of success really makes a huge difference. Know that negative thoughts and images will surface and when they do, it’s important to recognize that and neutralize those thoughts/images with stronger positive images.
Finally, never give up. Know that there is always someone to talk to and support you in your health and fitness journey: family, friends, running groups, coaches, and your local community. Inspiration is only a click or phone call away. But we need to fill ourselves with positive inspiration daily so we can be beacons of positivity, strength, and power to strengthen others who may be suffering in some way and need our help and support.
So try this sometime soon. Vincent Van Gogh dreamed his painting before painting them. So should we dream our runs before running them. Be strong, be bold, be courageous and IMAGINE your AMAZING run and imagineer your success. It works!