Creative Visualization And The Power Of The Mind In Endurance Sports, Exercise And Life In General

FitOldDog's reward for a workout well done, a café latté from Maggie at Johnny's in Carrboro.

FitOldDog’s reward for a workout well done, a café latte from Maggie at Johnny’s in Carrboro.

“When we gave the remedial group psychological training in positive visualization and self-esteem, their [firearms test] scores went up. We discovered that the focus of the trainers should be on the inner self.” Article on Police Firearm Training, From the Daily Guides by Rev. Dr. Jim Lockard, SOM July 2013.

Hi folks! Welcome!

PoolCreative visualization has played a positive role in my life, so I apply it to upcoming Ironman races in the hope of improving my performance, reducing pain, and enhancing enjoyment; I suspect that it works.

I am now at the tapering phase of my training for the upcoming Lake Placid Ironman, which is only 11 days away, so time to do a pre-race creative visualization  workout to build confidence and set my race plan in motion. Up early for my Paleo breakfast and off to the pool for a 30 minute, 1600 yard steady swim, half pull to mimic a wet suit, with a regular sighting maneuver combined with head up drill for the crowded turns. Having completed the Mirror Lake 2.4-mile swim multiple times, I can almost see my sighting point in the distant hills (in my mind), a divot in the trees, and then the finish.

BikeI imagine my way through the transition, and then onto my trainer for the bike course for 30 minutes. Easy spin for 5 minutes to get my bearings after the swim, 15 minutes low cadence climbing wattage (180), for that long climb after the horse barns, then 1 minute easy spin for the exhilarating or terrifying 8-mile descent into Keene, 4 minutes high cadence push on aerobars for the flats between Keene and Jay, 4 minutes at climbing wattage (170 this time) for the hardest part of the bike course, the river climb up to the Three Bears, and 1 minute easy spin to the transition. It’s all in my mind, with 7 hours compressed into 30 minutes, and through the bike to run transition.

RoadOff on the run, taking about 30 minutes to find my running legs off the bike, so I run 3 steady miles, gradually picking up my pace. All the time working on confidence, lightness on my feet, and pushing gently forward, never going too easy or too hard.

The Ironman race, and other endurance sports, are all about pace. Go a bit too fast and you’ll crash and burn later. Go too easy, or comfortable as Chris Hauth would say, and you won’t do your best.

Finally, a latte at Johnny’s in Carrboro for a workout well done, and a sense of increased pre-race confidence. You need as much as you can get, which goes for the rest of life, don’t you think?

-k @FitOldDog



  1. All I can say is, you are inspiration! I think this time, no way you DNF. You have the right mindset. If am half the endurance athlete you are in 20 years when I would be your age (should I live that long) I’d be ecstatic!

    • Thank you ‘g’ I appreciate that.
      If all goes well this year, I might be ready to take on Bob Scott (guess he’ll be 84) again at the Eagleman Half next year. He took me, a youngster in my 60s, on the run at the age of 81 and 82 (intense heat got me both times), but I think I have this heat and humidity thing decoded – Paleo+plenty of electrolytes with my water. Hope you have a great season.

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Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.