Adam Goucher: On Toughness and Visualizing The Race

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In a 2012 interview, the FloTrack team caught up with Adam Goucher. They talked with Goucher about the breaking your competition and the positives and negatives of visualizing your race. See what he had to say about the topics below. 

Developing Toughness

When Goucher was asked if not breaking under pressure was something you can train for. 

Goucher: I think that toughness in that respect . . . is kind of who you are as an athlete and as a person, it's in you or it's not in you. Can you develop it? You can develop it to a certain extent, yeah I mean if you have the ability to race on that level and you're lacking some mental toughness and confidence to close the race hard that's something you can work on. 

Visualizing The Race

[It is] something you can work on . . . the stronger you are the fitter you are the better you're going to have the ability to throw down at the end of the race. I think a lot of what comes down to toughness is you either you have it or you don't . . . from my experience a lot of times it is a mental thing. It's kinda like you almost mentally give up before you're really able to shine essentially. 

So a lot of it just kinda comes back to visualization being able to visualize yourself. That's why one of the greatest things I felt I did best was being able to visualize a race, myself in a race and my competition around me. As the race unfolds and progresses me still being there being good, being strong and then finishing strong and winning the race. Being able to do that . . . going through those mental processes, and knowing that you're capable of doing it is a very good start to developing that toughness. 

What You See Of Yourself

I think the key is . . . what you see of yourself. So it's like if you have those lapses in focus while you're visualizing then you definitely need to keep practicing it. I think that if you do visualize yourself falling off than you're doing it wrong.

The exercise is to see yourself doing it. You want to be able to visually see yourself in the race against your competition head to head, and not falling off. As the race progresses, "I'm still feeling good, I still feel strong, and they're starting to hurt and they're starting to fall off." [It's] a matter of working that process and learning how to do it, and the more you do it, the more you see it in your mind . . . the more likely it is to become a reality on race day.  

Overdoing It With Visualization 

I think I've had moments in my life where I've done visitation and focused so hard and so long on something. Perfect example is my senior year going into Foot Locker. From the day I finished fifteenth my junior year until the race my next year I was like I'm not gonna be ninth. I visualized me winning that race time and time again on that course racing Meb and everybody, all the guys Bob Keino . . . and just everybody. So for me it was like I was locked in. Something I did every night before I went to bed was just visualize the race and just see it in my head unfold. 

[The race] unfolded the way I envisioned it, almost to a tee. It was amazing, but I was tired mentally after that race. Like it took me time to not necessarily physically recover but mentally. . . . I think it was because of something that I worked so hard for in my head and visualized so much and put so much mental energy into that I was tired. So I mean can you overdo it? Possibly...? You can almost burn yourself out from visualizing. 



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