Click here for Part 1. This article will talk about the night before and the morning of the big 400 meter race.
So, how do you prepare for a 400 meters?
What better person to ask than one of the greatest most competitive quarter milers today?
Yes, I’m talking about Lee Evans.
For a more detailed scientific article on mental visualization, see How to apply mental imagery visualization techniques (guest posted by Elisavet Velentza).
If you need a more comprehensive sport psychology program, see Lisa L. Brown’s Courage to Win program (she’s another fellow Canadian)
Lee Evans 400 Meter Preparation
Below is a snippet from the original article Planning Training and Racing for Quality 400 Meters.
Another important thing, which helped me win, was Mental Preparation. I was a little different than most of the others. On the night before the big competitions I would be in bed by eight o’clock in the evening and I would stay in bed in the morning after a good night’s sleep. In the morning I would sit up in bed, close my eyes and practice visualization.
I would see myself winning the race from each of the lanes one through eight. I would see myself run every step of the race. I would see myself have a perfect start. I would see myself run the first 100 meters fast. I would see myself run the second 100 meters with the longest stride possible, and In the third 100 meters I would feel myself run as fast as I had ever run In my life. In the last 100 meters I would see myself maintain the speed, which I had generated during the third 100 meters. I would run this in my mind over and over again at least fifty times.
I would not just visualize the race; I would begin from when I would leave my room and I would go downstairs or take the elevator. I would get on the bus. I would go to the warm up track and I would go through my warm up. I would do four laps of warm up and I would stretch. I would do 3 x 100 meters and about three-fourths speed. I would make certain I would not be diverted by anything such as a girl friend or by buddies who might come over to ask how I was doing. I would always tell them I would talk to them after the race. My head was on straight and I tried to keep it that way. By concentrating on what I had to do I knew that I could win and set a record.
I set eight World Records during my racing career and each time I did I can remember going through this mental practice, spending the whole day In my room. In fact it became very boring and I did not like it at all and I was glad when the race was over with. I would just sit or lie there and concentrate on how I would push hard out of the blocks, I would have a long low lead arm. I would make up half the stagger- distance on the runner In front of me during the first 50 meters and then I would catch up with him and on and on and on.
I would think and concentrate all day and when I would actually go to the stadium I still had this mental set. When the starter would shoot the gun I felt I was detached and no longer a part of the race. I would lay off the shoulder of the runner In front of me and try to hold on to this runner who is running like mad and I was the one who was running like mad, but I was not there any more. I am in another place observing, the same as a spectator observing. Perhaps I placed myself in a hypnotic trance (I really did not know what it was) but I knew I could do that when I could take the time to do it. I did It out of the competitive desire, I wanted to win very badly because It was something I had worked very hard to get. I wanted to win the race and I wanted to set a record so I spent 8 to 10 hours I knew my opponents did not do to prepare as I did.
So mental preparation is important and I tell athletes this. You just don’t show up for the race and Just say you are going to run as fast as you can. You can develop a certain magic, perhaps a spiritual oneness of mind-body coordination. To me, this is what preparation is physically and mentally. This gave me confidence by having done everything I could have done to be ready for when the important event came. You have respect for your opponents and for your coach, and you have the confidence of and from your coach, so that when you step to the line you are ready to take on anyone. I always believed I could wipe out all my opponents. I watched most of them in practice and I knew I had done a lot more than they had to get ready. I practiced doing 30 push-ups and 30 sit-ups daily before practice. I practiced each section of the race. I practiced the last few steps and the dip at the tape and beyond it daily.
How many of you prepare for a 400m as much as Lee Evans?
NEXT: Part 3, the actual 400 meter race strategy.