Visualisation is a key mental tool for fulfilling your goals in self-help books, sports and in the business world,.
To put it more simply, “eyes on the prize”.
If you can focus on the end result and the feelings associated with it, you can help to prepare your body for what comes before it and ultimately, what you are aiming for.
So as I am trotting along on my long slow runs (LSR), my mind often wanders to what I will do when I actually cross that finish line at Brighton Racecourse after running 100 kilometres.
Below are some of coolest/most likely of the options that have come to mind as well as the my own betting style predictions (I really need to get out more):
Either swept back in fighter mode or fully parallel to my body, this seems like the most likely and least mentally taxing having run 62 miles.
Sticking my arms out and make plane noises, maybe swooping from side to side as I “fly” down the finishing straight has a certain childish charm to it.
The only downside I can see to this classic is that any spectators staying that late might actually think I have gone a little cuckoo and my lift from the stadium will be with the men in white coats rather than with my family.
Verdict: In the running.
The “gun it as fast as you can so you can shave precious seconds ridiculous amount of time you have been running”
My weapon of choice for my one and only ultra so far.
In any run, when you see the finish line, you get a new burst of energy.
Even if that energy propels you from a shuffle to a fast limp or a jog to sprint, what is important to remember is that 5 hours, 39 minutes and 27 seconds looks so much better on your downloaded certificate compared to 5 hours, 40 minutes.
Grizzled, twisted facial expressions and blurred limbs also give finish line photos the impression you’ve been running that fast for the whole thing.
Verdict: Pre-race favourite.
The “Blazeman Roll”
Definitely the most worthy “celebration” on the list.
Having said beforehand that he was going to finish “even if he has to be rolled across the line”, Blais completed the gruelling course half an hour under the cut-off and performed a “log roll” over the finish line.
Sadly Jon died in 2007 but his spirit and memory live on through the Blazeman Foundation and through the athletes, including British Ironman champion Chrissie Wellington, who perform a Blazeman roll at the finish line of their races.
Verdict: People’s favourite
The “Points to the Skies”
As I mentioned in my post about the Brighton half marathon, I have a lot of great memories of “Sussex by the Sea” (one for the handful of Seagulls fans out there).
Reaching the end of the race and cresting the top of the hill looking down on the lights (as much as I would love to finish in the daylight, it seems unlikely) and further to the sea, I will definitely be thinking of my Grandma who passed away a number of years ago.
I think about her a lot still and especially on long solitary runs which is part of the reason I chose the London2Brighton.
Crossing the finish line, I know she’ll be with me and I’ll have a quiet word and a point to the heavens to say thanks.
Verdict: Sentimental choice
Probably the stupidest of the candidates for at least two reasons.
A) I won’t have any speed to actually slide and will likely just face plant before even crossing the line
B) Knees are a worry for runners at the best of times and this may well break both of them FOREVER
However, I do like the mental image so it always pops up when I’m having this internal monologue.
The “Henman fist pump”
Choice of the English gent and ultimately unsuccessful “trier”.
The polite but firm fist-pump displays all the emotion of facial botox gone wrong and inspires nobody. It displays no sense of achievement, ambition or even sporting prowess.
It is the celebration of an accountant as they complete their tax returns.
Verdict: Rank outsider.
On the very odd occasion that I score a goal in football, I like to think that I cut a figure of composed confidence, a Cantona-esque swagger of “what else did you expect”.
In reality, it tends to be a guttural roar of surprise, anger and elation followed by clenched fists and an Incredible Hulk-style, clenched-fists, flexed-arms pose.
Opponents look on with a mix of fear and shock that someone could have a reaction so violent to something usually so anticlimactic and has taken four deflections before trickling over the line.
Verdict: Early contender.
When I was thinking about what I might do on the finishing straight, most of the mental images involved me throwing a number of dumb shapes just before crossing the line.
But while mucking around on the internet instead of actually training, I came across the dream celebration.
Picture the scene – a beautiful sunny day as I approach the finish.
The huge crowds in the grandstand go wild and I have a look behind me but cannot see any other competitors. Somebody hands me a Union Jack and I tie it like a cape around my neck.
The final few metres to the unbroken tape are lined with Pacific Islanders wearing grass skirts and blowing Conch shells.
As I break the tape, fireworks fill the night sky and flamethrowers shoot into the air.
Verdict: Time to wake up
While all of the above are fun to think of an ultimately give me something to aim for and “visualise”, the reality is going to be very different.
As I stagger up to the last yards, I will try to muster a smile for any of my friends and family that have turned up.
Then, my eyes will begin to well up and I’ll cross the finish line.
At nearly every long distance race I have done so far, I’ve wanted to throw up when I finish so I’m guessing that running 62 miles in a day will be a good time to actually do it.
Then my legs will begin to seize up as I stop running and limp forward slowly.
Maybe I’ll get one of those foil blankets and a banana.
Then I will have to get changed in a painstakingly slow manner before heading to the nearest pub, restaurant or chip shop to stuff my face with as much food, wine, beer and ice cream that I can.
That is the real goal, the end-game – eyes on the mountain of food Sam.
Verdict: Dead cert