The Winning Image is a tool I like to teach athletes coming into a race to boost their confidence at the start of a race and during when things start to get tough mentally and physically.

Psychological robustness and strength in ultras can be what makes the difference between scratching and finishing. If you are someone for whom confidence in your abilities doesn't come easily this technique could help.

What is a Winning Image?

A winning image is a Neuro-Linguistic Programming technique where you use a positive image or memory of yourself training or racing  to help you gain confidence and positive feelings about an upcoming event.

It doesn't have to be about winning outright, so long as it fits with your own criteria for success and helps you feel confident about your event.

How does it work?

It works by taking your thoughts away from negative things and putting you in a positive mind set. Connecting the image in a powerful way to physical and emotional feelings mean that you can use it to bring yourself out of a negative mindset.

Practising the technique in training will make the connection between the image and positive feelings strong; basically the more you do it the better it works.

How Can I Learn this Technique?

The technique has 3 steps:

1) Find a quiet personal space where you won't be disturbed and think about a time real or imagined when you have felt really good training or racing; one of those days where everything falls into place and you feel strong.

2) Think carefully about this moment, think about:

  • What you can see
  • What you can hear
  • What you can smell
  • How your body feels
  • How you feel emotionally

3) As you think about the moment make the image more powerful by:

  • Making the colours brighter
  • Making the sounds louder
  • Making the smells stronger

As you do this notice how this influences how your body feels and how you feel emotionally.

4) Identify a physical action you can do which will help you use this powerful image when you need it; this could be taking a deep breath, clapping your hands, crossing your fingers; add words to the action if that helps like 'fast and free' 'power legs' or 'you've got this.'

Practise the physical action (and words) and using the image up to 5 times so that you get good at using your action, words and the image.

5) Practise doing this daily for 5 minutes until you get good at it. Then try using it during  your training sessions 2-3 times per week. You can start with some easy sessions and then as you get good at it use it during harder sessions and see what a difference it makes.

This technique is often best learnt during a guided session with a qualified professional. If you would like to find out more about how we can help you with psychological techniques you can book a free 20 minute consultation with no commitment to see how we can help you.


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Clare Pearson
Post by Clare Pearson
July 2, 2024
A professional endurance coach since 2018, Clare Pearson has worked with endurance cyclists and runners to help them achieve their goals. Clare specialises in endurance events, she loves to work with people to help them succeed at their own goals; whether that's a personal best, a completion, a podium or better emotional health. Clare will work with you to design a plan that fits in with your day to day life and helps you get the most out of each session.