When you are pre-recorded for success... just press PLAY. - Fast Forward Sports
I always include in my pre-race routine a race visualization. I think a lot of people leave this out because it feels weird. Taking some time to sit down and visualize your race going how you want it feels a bit strange. If you aren't used to visualization the first couple times may be a bit awkward, but there are ways to get around this. I encourage you to take on the task of a pre-race visualization session.
Where to go: I take a lot of baths, so my race visualization usually happens in the tub the evening before the race. The spot you choose doesn't matter as much as the ability to get comfortable in it. You can grab a cup of tea, cocoa, or coffee. The perfect time may be in the morning the day before your race while you have breakfast and the sun is coming through the windows. Or you might take a short afternoon walk with a snack. Give yourself some time, 15-30 minutes with no obligations, nothing to rush back to.
Make sure that you have already talked with your coach if you have one. Have your race strategy panned out, and any and all goals established.
What to think about: Once you are comfortable sit down and just start thinking. Think about leaving for the race, packing the car, how your drive will be quick and uneventful. Arrive at transition, think about body marking, setting up your spot and visualize your warm up, potty breaks, etc. Walk your mind through the start of your race, diving into the water, swimming calmly. The key here is to visualize things going correctly. Allow yourself to feel the warm fuzzy feelings of things working out. Think of the perfect swim. Imagine how it would feel to exit the water with the best possible swim. Calmly trot up the beach and into transition. Watch in your minds eye a perfect transition. Go through your transition steps in perfect order, quickly, efficiently. Exit transition and watch yourself get settled into the bike. Watch your focus and determination stay consistent and imagine a flawless bike that is strong, efficient, and comfortable. Back to transition, again perfection, onto the run. Feel your legs adjust, feel your blood redistribute to the proper muscles. Go through this in your head. Watch yourself pass tons of people in the process of having your best run. Let no negative thoughts enter, just imagine the best possible outcome to your race. Give yourself a moment to bask in the ideas of perfect execution. Sum up your visualization with some focus on after the race, seeing family, smiling, cooling down, happy, calm, satisfied.
I am thought. I can see what the eyes cannot see. I can hear what the ears cannot hear. I can feel what the heart cannot feel. - Peter Nivio Zarlenga
Do you get it? See, if you just sit down and think about things a little bit it won't feel so strange. Race visualization has a way of easing your nerves and tensions about a race. You have gone through it in your mind and preprogrammed the idea. You are now free to go about your pre-race business without constantly thinking about race day. Try it, believe me, you'll like it, and you will race better because of it. Don't stall, don't feel the need to write down an elaborate script, just sit down, and think your ideal race through from start to finish. That's all you need.
Ordinary people believe only in the possible. Extraordinary people visualize not what is possible or probable, but rather what is impossible. And by visualizing the impossible, they begin to see it as possible. - Cherie Carter-Scott