Mindful Running

mindful runningOften when running alone it is nice to just let your thoughts wander, however have you ever considered Mindful Running? This is where you focus your mind on the present moment, and bring an awareness to your body, breathing, sensations, thoughts, moods and your surrounding environment.

By practicing mindfulness, you can improve your mental well-being or use it as a tool to improve your running performance. The body scan and counting your footsteps (exercises 1 & 2, below) can very useful in races as a tool to occupy your mind, stopping you becoming anxious about niggles or discomfort, as well as keeping you focused on maintaining your pace and form, particularly when the going gets tough.

To run mindfully, try using the following as a guide:

  1. Body Scan – take time to observe the following about your body as you run:
  • The rhythm, sound and sensation of your breath
  • Your shoulders – do they feel tight or relaxed?
  • Your arms – are they relaxed and swinging freely, or is there tension, are you clenching your fists?
  • Your posture – is it upright and tall, slumped or hunched over?
  • Your hips – do they feel mobile or tight, do they inhibit your leg action?
  • Your legs – does your stride feel free or restricted? If there is tightness or discomfort, where is it?
  • Your feet – do they land heavily or softly? Can you hear your footsteps?
  • Return your attention to your breathing again and observe its rhythm, sound and sensation.
  1. Focus on your breathing and now slowly count your right (or left foot) as it lands. Count 1 to 10 and keep repeating, until you reach a calm, relaxed and meditative state.                                                                                                                                 
  2. Now turn your attention to your thoughts and mood, acknowledge each of the following then let it pass without dwelling on it.
  • Any thoughts that enter your mind
  • Your underlying mood
  • Why you are running today?
  • How running has altered your mood and feelings?
  • Acknowledge the positive benefits of running, how it makes you feel/be better and how this will have a positive knock-on effect for the people you will encounter during the day. Running doesn’t just benefit you but those around you as well.
  1. Finally, bring your awareness back to your surroundings:
  • What do you see?
  • What can you hear?
  • What sensations do you feel, do you feel warmth, cold or the wind?
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