Thursday, February 22, 2007

It's All About the Visualization

Early in my endurance career, my primary focus was on survival. "All I have to do is survive this 1.5 mile run and I'll keep the doctor happy." "If I can survive two laps of my 6.75 mile course, I'll be ready for a half-marathon." "If I can survive all 26.2 miles of this race, I'll be a marathoner."

Survive was a common thread in much of what I did. That carried over to triathlon, too. That was mostly about the swim. Survival isn't always a given when I get into the water.

As I've become more involved and experienced, I've learned to use visualization as a tool to improve form, efficiency, and pace. The first ones I picked up comes from Meb Keflezighi, the US runner who captured silver at the 2004 Athens Olympics. One image he suggests is to imagine you have a hook in the top of your head that pulls up, which helps keep you straight and tall as you run. The second is to imagine sitting on a bike that is a touch too tall, so that your toes barely touch the ground. This helps keep you light on your feet. I've used both visualizations for the past 12 months, and they really have helped.

In my quest to improve my swim, I did some digging for video of proper swim form. Two criteria were very important. First, I wanted to see a variety of angles in a non-competitive format. In other words, I wanted something that was meant to teach. Second, I wanted something more than a 15-second clip.

Before I can begin to use visualizations to tweak my form, I want to make sure I know what good form looks like. So, if this works, here is a video that meets those needs. This is video of Australian Bill Kirby, gold medalist at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.


Deb said...

I visualize all the time...and not just when it comes to training. I like to think it's one long continuous prayer. Here's to your visions!

Geo said...

If you get tight shoulders on your bike, visualize you're a kitten being carried by mom cat. I know, sounds goofy but it works. Helps to drop the shoulders.

You have a great blog! Keep it up!

Nancy Toby said...

Huh? "If I can survive two laps of my 6.75 mile course, I...." will have COMPLETED a half marathon!!!