I’ll be honest…I’m not a runner. I have tried so many times to pick up running and because I’m not good at it, I have given up. Yep. Every time. But that hasn’t stopped me from wanting to be better at it. I will try again (once it gets cooler again).
During my times of when I was running daily, I noticed how awesome I felt afterwards. That is, after I laid on my floor thinking I was going to die, and finally recovered, I noticed. Have you ever noticed how a good run leaves you in a better state of mind??? I have. You tend to be less stressed than when you started, your more self assured, ready to jump back in and take on all your problems at once because they seem less daunting after a good run! These are just some of the psychological benefits of being a runner and also what happen to be very similar to the benefits people tend to experience when the practice mindfulness.
Basically, in a nutshell, mindfulness is the practice of deliberately focusing attention on the thoughts, emotions and sensations that one is experiencing at the present moment and accepting them without judgment or evaluation.
Running is a natural medium for practicing mindfulness. Focusing on the rhythmic sound of your feet hitting the ground, your breathing, the swinging of your arms and legs, the steady contact of your feet on the ground are all ways to center your attention on the here and now and to help empty your mind of an over abundance of thoughts. It’s just natural. When you take off on a run, you are physically removing yourself from your day, whether it’s your work day or just a normal day at home. You can mentally refocus and take a break from all those calls, making plans, listening to your kids fight or ask a million questions, no worries for the moment and no distractions that you typically are immersed in. Instead, you are free to to experience the here and now, the sensations you feel, the sights and sounds of just running.
Running tends to also create the same kind of openness towards your thoughts which is the key to mindfulness, believe it or not. When you are on a run, you tend to be outside of your social network and social roles and your ego-driven persona. You can dial down, and just concentrate on you and yourself own self criticism and self consciousness. Without the stress and baggage your can consider your thoughts objectively and not freakout over them.
It’s not that complicated to practice mindfulness while you are on a run at all. Seriously. Super easy. It can work with any running scenario, whether it’s training, a long run, short run, part of an intense workout, racing or part of a recovery job. You can be mindful all throughout your run, the whole time, part of the time, which ever! That’s up to you. It can be used during certain situations, such as when you are feeling pain while running, during a marathon, or feeling fatigued. Typically, when we feel some sort of discomfort while running, we try to ignore it and pretend that it’s not there. But mindfulness focusing on the pain, embracing, and full acknowledge it’s presents. Once you stop resisting it, it stops having so much power over you. Crazy, right!? It starts to become just another sensation to you. Once you have acceptance over this pain, you can dismiss it and focus on other sensations and let that pain just drop into the background, just like the scenery you already passed.
My advice to you, is to practice mindfulness on your next run. You’re not only getting a good fat-burning cardio in, but your run will be more liberating, stress reducing, and far more rewarding than any of your previous runs. Plus, once you master mindfulness while running, you can start learning to apply it to other areas of your life as well.
Was the post helpful at all?? If so, leave me a comment. I would love to hear from you!