I use visualization before every race and coach my athletes to do the same. Visualizing every aspect of the race before it happens both good and bad. I spend time mentally preparing for everything by creating a checklist with questions & answers.
How does the air feel on my skin? Warm or cold?
– It will be 40 degrees race morning so go outside with minimal clothing before the race, feel the air, then embrace that feeling.
How cold will water plunges and creek crossings be?
-Visualize a deep relaxing exhale when entering the water
How I will approach each obstacle?
– I will walk for 20 seconds before each obstacle breathing deeply and getting my heart rate to drop
What will I do if I cramp?
– I will walk, breathe deep, relax, and stretch the muscle
I visualize myself successfully completing EVERY obstacle but mentally prepare if I happen to fail one. I could continue with my long list but you get the point. Whatever you need to do to visualize success for your race is the key.
While visualizing you must also believe that you are strong. I teach my athletes to be strong as if it is your only option. As if your life depends on it. There is a great quote that I use regularly, “You never know how strong you are until being strong is your only option”.
Think about the stories you may have heard about a woman lifting a car off of her child, or of people displaying almost superhuman strength during a crisis or life-threatening emergency. Well guess what, you don’t just have that ability in those particular situations. You are MUCH stronger than you may think you are. You just have to get your mind in the right place first. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying it will be easy, in fact some of the times I have needed to be strongest in an OR and it hurt like hell. But I did it, I conquered the obstacle because I believed in myself, in my training and in my strength. It is a really cool feeling.
Understanding & Accepting:
You must understand & accept that your race is going to be hard. It is going to challenge you in ways you may have not thought possible. There may be more obstacles than you expected, or some of the hardest obstacles may be stacked all together to completely wreck and challenge your grip strength. That is part of the point of an obstacle race. Accept that you may be on the course hours longer than expected and that every single obstacle you approach could be covered in mud. Again, it is supposed to be hard, but that is what makes the finish so glorious!
Finally, when you are knee deep in freezing mud with scratches all over your body don’t forget to smile and be grateful. Literally be grateful that you have the financial means to pay for and travel to the race. Be grateful that you have a fully functioning body, or legs to pull out of the mud. Be grateful for the opportunity to learn and grow as an athlete and person from your race. The harder the race gets the more you smile and say thank you. I have used this in almost every race I do and I can’t tell you how powerful it is for your mind.