The second half of 2012 marked a comeback for me after herniated disks sidelined me for close to a year. Months of physical therapy gave way to a very patient approach to running again. I gradually increased mileage until I felt comfortable entering a 5k and over the course of the next six months made my way back up to a 10-mile race in early December. All the while I visualized myself as a strong, capable runner, accomplishing each milestone.
Visualization was something I learned at my first job 30 years ago. “Visualize success and make it so,” is what I was told. And it worked! When I started running, I would always visualize myself just making it to the next corner, or the next mile. Preparing for races, I would often drive the course a day or two before the event. When I would lay in bed unable to sleep the night before, I would visualize myself successfully navigating the course and crossing the finish line.
“Research has shown that surgeons, musicians, and business executives have used it to focus and to improve their performance. It could also help you run a 5K, ace a presentation, or even pass up the morning doughnut box.”
Rodriguez, T. 3 Easy Visualization Techniques Real Simple
One of the most successful visualizations I recall was in 2013. Five years ago this month – after that gradual and smart comeback in 2012 – I embarked on a goal to run 13 Half Marathons (Why? Because it was 2013 and a half marathon was 13.1 miles! Why else?). The first was to be in Houston in Janaury. During my training in the cold New Jersey winter leading up to the race, I had visualized running in shorts on a balmy Houston morning.
When I woke on race day in Houston, it was raining. And it was cold. Nothing like my vision at all! In the first mile, my skin stung with the cold rain and I wanted to drop out right there. But I visualized my Facebook post. What did I want to report to my friends after the race? Not that I had dropped out in the first mile. I began to visualize an acceptable Facebook post. No excuses! It will say how I overcame these horrendous conditions and finished! No wait, that’s not dramatic enough! I set a Personal Record! My Facebook post will tell everyone how I overcame the rain and the cold and the wind to run my fastest half ever!
I looked at my watch. I was running a pace that could make that goal reasonable. I just had to keep it up and finish strong. I did! The last mile was my fastest. I finished in 1:51:13 and bettered my previous best half marathon time (from 8 years earlier!) by 56 seconds. All because I focused on what my Facebook post was going to say! The post which I wrote in my head around mile 8 (and is still visible on my timeline), reads: Okay! I have lots of excuses…cold driving rain, fierce winds, etc…but I don’t have to use them! I did it! My best Half Marathon time ever! Thank you Houston!
Here are some additional articles and resources on how to use visualization to achieve success:
Seeing is believing: The Power of Visualization, Psychology Today, December 2009
The Extraordinary Power of Visualizing Success, Entrepreneur, January 2015
From Jack Canfield’s Blog: Visualize and Affirm Your Desired Outcomes: A Step-By-Step Guide
(Jack Canfield, America’s #1 Success Coach, is founder of the billion-dollar book brand Chicken Soup for the Soul® and a leading authority on Peak Performance and Life Success. If you’re ready to jump-start your life, make more money, and have more fun and joy in all that you do, get FREE success tips from Jack Canfield now at: www.FreeSuccessStrategies.com)
So what are you visualizing for 2018? I’m visualizing qualifying for the 2019 Boston Marathon, being the parent of a high school graduate and college freshman (without shedding too many tears), and a successful – and powerful – re-launch of my coaching business (and my life) in Chicago; all the while sharing the lessons learned with you in this blog each week. Here’s to a peaceful and prosperous 2018!