This is the automatic response to the morning alarm for most runners today. We have a set routine, set route and set playlist. Warm up and go. The problem with these ‘mechanical’ runs is that we are not really present. Yes we are running, but we are also making vacation plans, thinking about what to eat later, going over our endless to-do lists, worrying about deadlines, etc. We have adjusted so much to our routine that we begin multitasking during our runs instead of focusing on our performance and our surroundings. They stop us from experiencing the runners high.
Fortunately there is something that can change those black and white mechanical runs to colorful runs. Mindful Running. Yes like meditation, but at a faster speed. Sounds contradictory? Well, it isn’t. Meditation is a practice in which we train our mind to either realize some benefit or to identify the content within it. Through meditation we begin to understand ourselves, our thought process and we become more aware. When it is incorporated it into a running routine you become more present and aware. From the second you put your Spiritual Warrior running pants on, to the last stretch after the run, you know how you felt physically and mentally every step of the way.
So how do you run mindfully?
Here are a few simply exercises you can try on your next run:
- As soon as you wake up ask yourself how are you feeling? Are you still tired? Do you feel well rested? Are you worried about something? Don’t judge your thoughts simply acknowledge them.
- While you are getting dressed pay attention to your body and how it feels. Are you sore from a previous workout? Does your body feel light? Also pay attention to how your clothes feel as you put them on. Do you like the way the fabric feels on your skin? (If its Spiritual Warrior you know it feels damn good). Remember not to judge any of your thoughts. You are simply building awareness.
- As you step out of your house take at least three long deep breaths and notice how the air feels as you inhale and exhale. Breathing is one of the most important aspects of running. The initial breaths are to help you ground yourself. Once you are running return to the breathing pattern that is comfortable for you.
- While you are running become more aware of your surroundings. You have probably been running the same route for a while, but you will be surprised with the things you did not notice before.
- During your run you will have thoughts coming in and out- simply acknowledge them, don’t judge them and instead focus on how your body is feeling. Are your legs hurting? Do they feel heavy? Then focus back on your breathing by counting your inhales and exhales. Counting your strides is another very effective way to ensure you are present throughout your run.
- And of course you are going to have moments of discomfort, after all you are an avid runner and the purpose of doing all of this is to perform better. When you are practicing mindful running you are able to easily identify the discomforts and when they happen. This is one of the main perks of being present because it prepares you mentally and physically.
So the next time you get out there focus on you and your run, remember to be present and hopefully you will breathe right into you.