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or personal records; it’s to always finish my run feeling good,” says Landes, of Lafayette, Colorado. As part of the visual- izing process, she says she also clears her mind of negative thoughts, stops comparing her performance to others and ac- cepts factors that are out of her control, whether it’s bad race weather or competitive colleagues. Practicing helpful visualization techniques consistently in daily life can lead to better returns across the board, not just in athletics, according to Terry Orlick, a performance consultant from Ottawa, Ontario, and author of many self- improvement books, including Embracing Your Potential and In Pursuit of Excellence. Orlick has worked with people from many walks of life that use imagery in their quest for improvement, including surgeons, musicians, pilots, dancers, astronauts and CEOs. When working with Canadian Olympic teams, Orlick found that 99 percent of the athletes practiced visualization an average of 12 minutes per day, four times a week. Studies have linked imagery and improved performance in


a variety of sports. For instance, researchers found that golf- ers that used visualization and positive self-talk improved their putting performance (Journal of Sports Science & Medicine). Another study showed an increase in confidence among novice female rock climbers, leading to better performance (Journal of Sport Behavior). For Landes, her personal experience is all the proof she


needs. After years of rarely being able to run the entire course of a major annual race in Aspen—generally walking the last stretch—Landes tried visualizing herself having a strong finish as she trained and prepared for the event. For weeks, she replayed the last three miles many times in her mind. Then she ran the race, paring 12 minutes off her previous year’s time. “It felt great,” Landes says, “and it worked.”


Freelance journalist Debra Melani writes about health care and fitness from Lyons, CO. Connect at DebraMelani.com or DMelani@msn.com.


Visualization Tips A


s with any skill, practice often, gradually increasing the number


of sessions.


n For maximum effect, incorporate sounds, smells, colors and feelings to create vivid images.


n Plan imagery to meet current needs. If struggling with a skill, imagine performing it perfectly and confidently many times. If distractions are an issue, imagine remaining calm and focused while dealing with whatever occurs during an event.


Source: Adapted from Association for Applied Sport Psychology The Biggest


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