See it. Feel it. Do it. How I ran a thousand marathons before I even hit the starting line

One of my favorite movies of all time is The Commitments. A gritty, endearing, and often hilarious tale about a rag-tag group of soul musicians striving for success in working-class Dublin.

Undoubtedly my favorite scenes throughout the whole film involve the band’s ambitious young manager. I particularly like the ones when we see him role-playing various scenarios in which he is interviewed by the mass media on the trials and tribulations of running a successful music group.

Not only are they kinda funny and provide a unique way to get into the protagonist’s thought process, but because they provide a great example of something I’ve often done to help myself along when faced with a particularly monumental task.

No, not talking to myself in the bath (though yes, OK, I am guilty of that on occasion!), but visualizing myself having already achieved whatever is I’m aiming for.

A few years ago, I signed up to haul my body 26.2 grueling miles around London in an attempt to complete a marathon.

There’s nothing particularly special about this, thousands of people complete marathons every year. Even with a multitude of health problems that I had at the time adding an extra layer of difficulty to the challenge, there were still countless people who achieve similar goals whilst faced with bigger handicaps than I had.

Still, this was perhaps the biggest challenge I felt I’d ever faced, and not only did my closest friends and family doubt my ability to complete the marathon, but I also had my own reservations too.

My inner-voice would bug me daily:

There’s no way you can do this, fool! This will be too hard for you! Give up now!

I worried about what I exactly I’d let myself in for and had at least a couple of moments when I thought about giving up on what had been a long-time goal.

See it. Feel it. Do it.

Regardless, I began my training, and in time began to visualize myself running the London Marathon course.

As I ran along, the thunderous roar of some motivational music blasting in my ears and the pavement disappearing beneath my feet, I visualized everything.

I saw not the open fields and wide, empty roads which lined my usual training route, but the sights and delights of London.

I visualized the Cutty Sark, the Tower Bridge and all the other landmarks that I would pass on the big day. I visualized other runners surrounding me, some even yelling words of encouragement to me when the going got tough.

I visualised the finish line approaching and the medal being draped around my neck once it was all over.

I visualized all of this in as fine a detail as my imagination would allow.

Every step, every turn of the London Marathon was imprinted on my brain. I took time out to lay back and allow myself to feel how I would feel having completed the marathon.

I filled my walls with pictures of the course so that I would be surrounded by the marathon and yes, I even conducted an interview with myself in the shower.

So, Chris, how does it feel to have completed one of the biggest marathons in the world?

Well, let me tell you, it was tough going back there for a while, but I knew I could do it. I just tried to enjoy the experience as best I could and do my best, you know?

The time came. The Big Day. Time to run a marathon. As I lined up at the starting line, that nagging voice of self-doubt was no longer there. Instead, all I could tell myself was:

You’ve already completed this marathon countless times, you can do it again.

That was all I needed.

As strange as it may sound to some, I had run that marathon thousands of times in my head.

Every step, every second, every sight and every sound I’d already experienced so strongly, over and over again, that there was absolutely no reason why I couldn’t do it once more.

Because of that, physically completing the marathon was no harder for me than it had been during all those times I’d simply imagined completing it.

Even when my old problems with my knees caught up with me and I was forced to limp the last couple of miles, I relished every moment of that marathon and by the time I finally crossed that finish line, I actually felt like I do the whole thing over again.

I’ve used this technique countless times before and since that first marathon and it’s never let me down.

Whether I’ve got a race to run, a book to write or another big goal to work for, I see myself having already achieved it in my mind, allow myself to feel how I’ll want to feel once I’ve achieved it, and surround myself with visual reminders of what lies ahead.

UI used the same visualization technique to complete the Manchester Marathon earlier this year.

That way, when it comes down to taking on the Big Challenge, I feel like I’ve already done it countless times before and can do it at least one more time.

Try it yourself.

See it. Feel it. Do it.

Then, jump in the bath for your big TV interview!

Solution-Focussed Hypnotherapist | Author of Quit Smoking & Be Happy ( | Runner | Training in Person-Centered Counselling.

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