Running with Positive Imagery

Meaningful running achievements begin with a positive vision that you fully welcome, commit to, and strive to complete with passion. You first create a picture, a “virtual run” in your mind’s eye, and you imagine what it would be like to accomplish that goal and reach your destination.

Then you seek out a path as a runner – a training plan that will lead you to where you want to go. Finally, you step into that image, and apply all your knowledge, your drive, and your power, to turn the dream into reality.

Creative running visions and dedicated actions direct you, energize you, and inspire you to overcome obstacles to discover your performing edge.

A few years ago I had the opportunity to give a talk on mental training at Bill Rodgers and Joan Benoit Samuelson’s running camp in Vermont.

While out running with Joan I asked about her mindset during her historic race in the 1985 Chicago Marathon, when she raced head-to-head with Ingrid Kristiansen, the world record holder at that time. Joan had just won her Gold Medal in the first ever women’s Olympic marathon in 1984.

Joan related her running experience: “That was one of the most difficult races of my life. Ingrid and I were running side-by-side on a world record pace. We were at 31 minutes at the 10K mark. I kept surging ahead, but Ingrid would always respond. I couldn’t seem to shake her.

I had prepared mentally for running the race by using imagery. During the marathon, I would see myself running easily on my favorite ten-mile loop. Then I would picture myself on a six-mile loop, followed by another ten-mile trail run.

Dividing it up in my mind that way made the race seem shorter and more enjoyable.” In Chicago, Joan finally pulled away from Ingrid, winning the race in 2:21:15. She broke the American record for the marathon, and ran the 2nd fastest time in history.

The utilization of mental imagery for enhanced performance is not new, as confirmed by this example. The practice of marshal arts in Asia, meditation and yoga in ancient India, and hypnotherapy are other illustrations of how the mind’s capacity to picture situations can be a critical part of your running performance.

Whereas mental training may have been viewed skeptically in the past, now imagery and other similar techniques have become an integral part of most running and sports venues. Serious athletes, who want to engage in more complete preparation, train both their body and mind for top-level performance.

How Can Runners Use Visualization and Mental Imagery?

When you are out running, would you like to use the power of your mind, body and spirit to enhance the quality of your workouts?

Would you like to run faster, smoother, with less effort?

In part 2 of this Visualization series for runners, I’ll show you the 7 steps to improve the efficiency of your imagery and your running performance.

Dr. JoAnn Dahlkoetter, best-selling author of YOUR PERFORMING EDGE™, is a STANFORD Performance Consultant, sports psychologist to OLYMPIC Gold Medalists and CEOs, winner of the San Francisco Marathon and 2nd in the World Championship Hawaii Ironman Triathlon. She is an internationally recognized Keynote Speaker, columnist, and TV expert commentator.

Dr. JoAnn provides corporate training and personal coaching programs for sports, business, wellness, and reaching your potential in life. Email: