Visualization


I have been thinking about how I use visualization in my life. I wish I could master it at work as well as I have elsewhere, but I am still working on that. There’s really no physical finish line to cross or trophy to win at work. So the visualization there is a bit harder for me. I need to spend more time on creating a mental scenario there. What can I say? I am simple.


One of the places where I am using visualization to my benefit right now, is at the gym. I am sure that you don’t want updates on my small improvements in running. And I know that treadmill running is probably extra zzzzz for all you guys. But it’s what asthma girl has right now. Baby steps, people, it’s all I can commit to (we will leave the commitment issues for another time, specifically never!). So I am now up to running 6 miles at a time, for my thrice weekly runs (yeah, my trainer looked at me and said “you’re a runner” and I was like “hellz yeah I am!”). The first time, it was relatively easy. The second time a bit harder (you know, you’re still wondering if it was a fluke when you did it before).. The third time is where you enter into the “I can do this” phase. That time will be tonight, later. Once I motivate to haul it to the gym. ( I can do it…I can do it)


I have written before about how sometimes I can get lost in my head. Where my mind wanders off to explore subject as complex as how traffic lights are timed or whether I should be adding super foods into my diet more or whether running barefoot is actually good for someone as flat-footed as me or whether that crazy guy that walks around Redmond in an Elvis wig is actually happier than the rest of us. When I say I am a head case, I mean that in so many different ways. For example, when it comes to working out, motivation is a challenge (partly because of my affinity for the fetal position), and partly because I have a history as a negative self-talker. “You can’t do this”, “you’re not a runner, impostor!”, “people are watching you struggle and it’s not pretty!” “Mmmmm, nachos.”  I know, it’s totally nuts. It takes work to get these things out of my head. Just like when you are having an anxiety attack and you have to try to convince yourself that the one thing that has you up in the middle of the night with your heart audibly pounding is not going to be the end of your life. You can try to scooch these thoughts to the side but they are always there, the scooching is successful sometimes more than others. I hate it, I hate it, I hate it! This has a serious impact on my life (you know the part that happens outside of work). And the fact that this gets to me makes it even worse.


So you’d think that you could use the head case stuff to some sort of benefit and I have confirmation of this opinion,,,yes…yes I can. I am going to admit something so silly that I am wondering if I should be more embarrassed to put it out here. Yep, sure thinking about deleting this post and trying to forget it right now. Oh, stop being a sissy Heather. Have more confidence. (See?) OK:  When I am running, I try to go to my “happy place.” And by “happy place,” I pretty much mean a place where I am not running, like the dentist chair or a really boring meeting. Catch my drift? Pretty much any mental place that is distracting. Sometimes those anxiety issues can come in handy because, really, my heart is already beating hard anyway. Smell what I’m cookin? I need some distraction. At the same time, I also need motivation (to keep going). So I need to be motivated to keep running but distracted from the fact that I am, at that very moment, running (OK well jogging if you prefer…I’m maxing out at 5.2 MPH now…nowhere to go but up…but I am doing it for 70 minutes at a time). So what I have started doing is visualizing scenarios where I am admired as a running champion. Don’t laugh. The current scenario I am working with involves me running into the Coliseum at half time of a college football game (because football is one of the few times where I am totally OK being surrounded by a crowd without feeling the need to claw myself out). I am completing the very end of a 10K race against another 40 year old runner from the opposing team. And I totally smoke them. And I spend time thinking about the football team high fiving me and what I would be wearing. And the famous Trojans that join me around the track (and how Will Farrel is probably a horrible runner). 


Yeah, feel free to laugh but this totally works for me and I can daydream about this stupid shizz for many minutes of a 70 minute run. I may or may not refer to this as a “coping mechanism” in the future. Someday I will look back at this and either wonder what the heck I was thinking. Or I will think this is where my awesome career as a Trojan half-time race finisher all started.

Comments (10)

  1. HeatherLeigh says:

    Oh, and it would be helpful to my self esteem if you would share some of your wacky visualizations too.

  2. Crawdad13 says:

    I sometimes visualize myself eating a greasy cheeseburger while watching some cute, neurotic, woman, wearing  yellow USC Trojans shorts and a faded blue Cubs t-shirt running with her eyes closed on a treadmill. (wait… WAIT!… there…Now I am in my happy place)

  3. HeatherLeigh says:

    Crawdad13….haha! Hilarious. For the record, I would never wear yellow shorts and unfortunately for me, I can’t balance with my eyes closed :) But I am lip synching and air guitaring from time to time. Some day, someone I know is going to see me and get a good laugh. (PS: black running pants and sleeveless under armor shirt….mostly because I am fascinated by "moisture wicking").

    See now I am visualizing that whole cheeseburger scenario.

  4. Ann says:

    I am working on building my distance too and often get lost in my head. Lately I get lost in the holy crap can I stop yet territory. I am going to try visualizing an easy 13miles in next months Nikes Women’s Half Marathon and the big ass beer I am gonna have when I am finished!

  5. HeatherLeigh says:

    Oh yes, I know that place! It’s hard not to watch the clock and distance read-out. Good for you on the race next week! You will so deserve that beer or five of them!

  6. Neal says:

    Awesome Heather! It’s been awhile – sorry – last time I was here I was psyched that you did the race you said you were going to do and now you’re up to six miles – that is awesome! If my memory is right – that would be about double the distance in just about the same amount of time, give or take.

    I try to focus on some scene like that as well. I find that if I can put more and more detail around it – it takes more and more time. So I think about what I’d say, what people around me would say, how it would look, the words John Grisham would use to describe the event, how Steven Spielberg would film it in that grainy, shaky black & white style like from saving private ryan for the eventual movie adaptation – hehe – ok that made me laugh. That’s pretty cheezy too.

    For me it eventually ends and I remember that it sure would be easy to simply walk back home.

    Luckily for me – a friend of mine gave me this advice – he said why don’t you dream about what you’ll do tomorrow with that level of detail? So that’s what I do now – this week: I have some impossible people to buy Christmas gifts for so I imagine every aspect of their lives to try to find something that they may like. Tomorrow – I’m switching – My oldest son started 1st grade this week so I’m thinking of ways to help him grow and learn.

    It was awesome advice – it’s 10:52pm and I can’t wait for my run tomorrow. 7 weeks ’till the NY Marathon! Woot!

  7. HeatherLeigh says:

    Yep, it’s double. I am up to 6.5 miles now. Getting blisters now. Not fun. I still don’t believe it when I look down and realize I did 6.5. Still on the treadmill and hope to start getting outside for some short runs.

    I fill in the details on the scenes too: not the filming of it but what I am wearing. What a surprise. Feels great. I am thinking my big goal is a half marathon. We will see how that goes. If I think about it too much it will scare me.

    Sounds like you are running in the NYM? Good for you! I wonder what the female qualifying time for the Chicago Marathon is (40 year old category). Hmmmm. OK, I can’t thikn about that! :)

  8. Lukas Triska says:

    Good for you. You are making great progress. I am going to the gym too. What helps me is go there with somebody like partner, friend, co-worker or just watch other people around struggling in pain. All that pain is good pain. If there is such thing. :o) After I am done I always feel so great I can barely wait to do it all over again.

    What also helps me is keep my head busy trying to figure out things that I could not solve at work.

  9. HeatherLeigh says:

    Oh Lukas, you would love going to the gym with me, then.  I make some exertion noises when I run and although I am not trying to scare people around me, I can tell that they notice. I agree that there is some kind of kindred spirit thing going on at the gym. I like to run by people that inspire me. And I do also feel great when I am done but I can totally wait to do it all again. I need to fix that part. I htink it might be because I am pushing so hard. Should become more enjoyable any second now.

  10. Lukas Triska says:

    Heather you are right I probably would love going to the gym with you. Everybody is doing whatever they can to survive pain. If the noises help you cope with pain that is great.  Just keep going.

    What I do when my body is aching and shaking and I don’t think I can take it anymore. I always remember one Lieutenant from the army that was screaming at us  “If you think you can’t think again you still have 60% of energy so move your butt.” Now I am thinking I still have 60%. It is silly but works. :o)