#61 Richmond Park Marathon: Visualisations and Performance

#61 Richmond Park Marathon: Visualisations and Performance


Deer - StartLeftWeb
Deer versus Drue

Event Type: Busy London park trail with some very short steep hills and undulations.
Route: Flags and mile markers
Time limit: 6 hours
Weather: 17 degs C. Bright and sunny.
Goody Bag: Finishers medal; and various stuff
Check Points: Every 5km; a couple of cafes to get an ice-cream
Scenery: Rolling hills, trees, cyclists, runners, deer
Date:22 May 2016

Tyre: Drue
Photos by: Phil from Alabama (hiya y’all)

Visualisations versus Imagination

At the Rome marathon, I discovered the magic of visualisation. Visualisation is different to Imagination. In a marathon, I can imagine completing a 5K lap, I can dedicate a mile to someone and imagine a conversation with them, I can imagine eating ice-cream…..imagination is a great distractor and can be done on the day. When you are feeling rubbish, it takes far longer to pull yourself out of those negative feelings. I found I required effort to produce positive thoughts. Prior to Cranleigh, work pressures put my body postures into bad form and I turned up at Cranleigh Trail marathon feeling rubbish.

Before Rome marathon, by chance, I had done some visualisation exercises due to poor sleep. This put me in a state of positiveness before and during the Rome marathon. Prior to Richmond Park marathon, I again did some visualisations and also ensured body postures were upright in a positive state (some have mentioned the Alexander technique). Before Rome, I visualised finishing in 06:50 hours, I completed in 06:50:10. Before Richmond Park marathon, I visualised finishing in 06:45 hours….At both of them I felt positive during the week and at the start.

The Fat Chatty Pen Man

Chatty Man Phil

Phil flew in from Alabama to celebrate his 25th Anniversary and run the Richmond Park marathon. He connected with me on Twitter, and confided he had concerns over an ankle injury that would prevent him from completing the event in 6 hours. I told him about my secret pass….. I start at least an hour early…and so he to came on board my secret pass.

For the 3 times I’ve run Richmond Park marathon, there is normally banter with cyclists for the first 10 miles. Last year was “Excuse me…..There’s something behind you”. This year it was “What expedition are you doing?”

This time Phil started with me, and talked.  Normally I dislike people talking to me as I run, because they ask me sooooo many questions. Try running whilst pulling a large tyre behind you and then let me throw a bunch of questions at you….I might be a lady, but this part of the multi-tasking does not work for me.

Phil shared amazing stuff about himself and I could not help but join in this conversation. He used to be over 360 pounds (163kg)….nearly 3 times my weight (I’m 60kg) and has halved that weight. There ain’t nuffing fat about that man now. He’s a “Fit Chatty  Pen Man” and a total inspiration to his community! As we talked, I confused the signs and forgot one loop. My bad! We made it up by doing a loop at the Isabella plantation. According to Phil’s garmin, we were now 0.2miles in surplus…better to be over than under…..as I said running and talking and navigating do not appear to co-exist in my womanly multi-tasking head.

Leg Cramps

In the 60 marathons/ultras that I have completed, I have never suffered from leg cramps. At 11 miles my right calf and left inner thigh were cramping. I had to slow it down hoping it would all go away, Phil passed a sachet to me containing electrolytes and calories. I was confused. On reflection, 3 days prior to the event, my right calf had been cramping in the night. I had not recognised it would be a problem believing it was a bizarre moment of body madness (my woman thing was kicking in). Though marathon day was the first day, I’ve run marathons plenty of times on “the first day”.

Heading into the mile 12 check point, “Film my run” Steve overtook, and then Josh and Celeste from Barnes Runners. Josh is great at boosting my ego…..”You have a fan club!”……Josh I’d better make an appearance at this fan club one day 😉 We chatted at the watering hole, enjoying the sunshine and the amazing Donna, who was a volunteer and has done many more marathons than myself, reminded me there is a first for everything no matter how many marathons you have run!  My legs felt relaxed and ready to go again. Chatty man Phil, ran with me for one more mile before heading into the crowd of trail walkers and cyclists, and I continued to enjoy the endless bemused smiles that people sent my way….

As tension began to build back up in the calf and inner thigh even when I was walking, I reflected on Pose running and relaxation (note to self, need to learn relaxation better).



Although timewise was looking excellent, at mile 13, I realigned my visualised finishing time to 06:48. At mile 17 and mile 23 the muscles tightened, I stopped on both occasions to stretch out the tension.

One pork pie, one yoguhrt flapjack, 2 jelly babies and a 200 calorie powder substance handed to me by Phil, I completed in 06:49:17. A 53 second PB!

Unproven yet, but I believe proper visualisation puts your head in a great frame of mind to perform better despite the odds….and as I discovered last year, the head affects the performance of the body (write up to come later). Thus pre-visualisation takes less work to keep your head in a positive state.

As well as to the folk I have already mentioned, big thank yous to Amon, Anna (from the 100 Marathon Club), Donna & Ray for their hugs despite me looking like a sweaty dirt bag (Richmond Park trails are dusty), the volunteers for their endless smiles and cheers, the organisers (Gareth and Ray) who have always been supportive, and everyone who put money in the bucket and encouraged me throughout. Also the lady who dropped us off at Richmond station so I could get over to my aunt’s to sort out her garden.

BYOB next year

I hope to see you all next year and see if I can improve on the mile that you caught me at this year 🙂 …..and hope to see more people with their own reusable water bottles that they can refill at the water stations….no excuses as RPM provided one in the goodies bag this year.

Funds raised from Richmond Park marathon for EarthWatch = £95.67


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