Psyched Online

INTERVIEW: An Olympic runner, Bernard Lagat, explains how he uses visual imagery in his training.

With Paul Schienberg, PhD
Bernard Lagat’s Career Highlights: 2004 Olympic 1,500 silver medalist; 2000 bronze medalist; 2004 World Indoor Champs 3,000m gold medalist; 2001 World Outdoor Champs 1,500 silver medalist; 2002 World Cup 1,500m champion; U.S. indoor 1,500 and mile record holder; U.S. outdoor 1,500 record holder; Wanamaker Mile record holder, two time Olympic medalist, and American record holder. He competed and won the Wanamaker Mile.

Bernard Lagat: Thank you very much for having me here again. My baby boy is doing really great. My wife is doing well too. My wife had some complication and now things are resolved.

Psyched: Are you getting sleep?
BL: A little. People said go to sleep early now because later you will not.

P: Last year you ran your first 5000 meters.
BL: Yes, in 12:59. I’m going to stick with the mile though. I was really happy. In the next years I will start with 5000 meters. I give Bekele a lot of respect for trying the mile. He can do anything.

P: This is a shorter track.
BL: Yes, it feels like you are running longer. Shorter people can run the corners easier than taller runners.

P: Are you going to tell him how to run the corners?
BL: No. He will have to watch us from behind.

P: What is your mental approach to training or when you are walking up to the starting line to begin a race?
BL: For competition I run the race before I step up to the starting line. I imagine all the possibilities of what will happen before the race so I know what to do. I do this so I don’t panic. I know what can happen. For my training, I train by myself. It is more boring. I run with an object ahead of me in my mind – like a motorcycle. I follow my motorcycle. Pick object that I like. I pick an image or a shadow. It gives me focus. It gives me stamina. It helps me get out of boredom.

P: Do you use an image of you winning?
BL: Yes. But, not one set image.

P: Do you hear the sound of the crowd? Environment?
BL: No, in competition I don’t even hear the crowd. I think about the competition. For warm up, I am sitting one hour before or lying down, quiet, imagining competition. I am imagining the whole race. Train my mind. The crowd pushes me on. The crowd is part of the race in the beginning. But, then half of the race you are tired and the crowd becomes handy – it supports you.

P: Do you run better from behind or in front?
BL: Both. I can follow fast pace. In training I like to run from in front. Competition I can just be off the front. I like rushing with everyone at the end.