Comment of the Week – 7.5.2014

COTW badgeA belated Happy Independence Day to all of us in America, and happy first weekend in July!  Although summer “officially” started two weeks ago, July has always seemed like the real start of the summer to me, and I’m ready for a summer run-cation.  I find it very hard to plan any trip that doesn’t involve some sort of running or racing, which I know makes it hard for family and friends to plan things with me.  But if they love me… (or, alternately, if I love them…), we make it work!

Summer vacation planning aside, we’ve had another great week of posts and comments.  Although it’s always hard to choose our favorite comment, we did.  And the winner is…Meaghan, who commented on Salty’s How Visualizing the Achievement of Your Running Goals Might Set You up to Fail post!  She said:

I use both.  My last successful race, I started with writing down the goal as if I’d already achieved it (“I have run a sub-4hr marathon”).  I pictured the finish line, the clock, and tried to feel the elation that I would feel at achieving a big goal.  During the training process, when workouts got tough (or if I just didn’t feel like doing them) I pictured the finish line clock rolling over to 4:00 right in front of me, because I had slacked off during a tough workout.  During runs on the marathon course during training, I pictured the differences on marathon day (the other runners, the spectators, the roads free of cars, the noise all around, the pavement sticky from the gatorade) and imagined myself feeling as fresh and energetic as I was on that day in training (when I had run 5 miles and not 21).  I often pictured going up some of the major hills in the course effortlessly, passing people who were struggling. 

I believe that all of this helped me to ultimately achieve my goal, on a day with a headwind that caused some people to miss theirs. (note that I know a 4:00 marathon isn’t particularly fast by any objective measure, but it was a big improvement from my first, which was just barely under 5:00).

I don’t have access to academic journals but I would bet that there are more than a few studies that suggest that visualization (even of success, not of progress) can be helpful for some athletes.  There’s probably a lot of variation between individual athletes, though.  Some will be motivated, and some demotivated, by visualizing achieving their goals.

When we let Meaghan know she had won, here’s what she had to say:

Meaghan's first sub-4 marathon (she's in the red singlet)
Meaghan’s first sub-4 marathon (she’s in the red singlet)

I am an NYC-based animator and motion graphic artist, and a runner with Prospect Park Track Club.  Since my last COTW (in Feb 2013) I achieved  my 2013 goals of a 1:50 HM and a 4:00 marathon and have refocused on shorter races in 2014. 

Even though I can be a bit contrary in my commenting, I so appreciate how Salty Running provides a community for women who are serious about their running, no matter their pace.  Our abilities don’t always match up with our ambitions, and I think it’s so important to have a community where the message isn’t that if you’re not achieving a specific standard in your running, you’re just not trying hard enough.

We love it when you agree with what we have to say, but love it even more when you don’t! Thanks for doing both, Meaghan, and for all of your comments!

Did you race on the 4th?  How did it go?

Ultrarunner, adventurer, academic, and feminist. Running Across the USA in 2021. I write about ultrarunning, adventuring, and the intersection of endurance athletics and life.

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