7 Ways to Maintain a Stress-Free Running habit
Running can be a great release during stressful times. When you run, your body secretes endorphins, the hormones that give you a natural boost and can help you overcome a bad mood. However, simply going for a run is often not enough to relieve some complex frustrations. If you are not in the right mental condition or some of your vital settings are off, running could even make you feel more stressed. So what should you do?
Let’s look at 7 ways to help you have a stress-free run.
1. Avoid Unnecessary Tension
During stressful situations, people usually tend to hold stress in their shoulders and hands. Many runners clench their fists in a certain way while running, which may cause tension in the neck, shoulders, lower back, as well as in the rest of the arms. Such tension is capable of throwing off your running form, which can result in pain in those parts of the body.
To avoid this unnecessary tension, keep your hands loose instead of clenching them while running. For example, you may imagine that you are holding chips in your hands and do not want to crush it. In turn, this will help you breathe more efficiently and keep your upper body relaxed during a run.
Here are a few tips to keep proper running form:
- Look ahead.
- Land on the middle of your foot.
- Keep feet pointed straight ahead of you.
- Do not bounce.
- Keep hands at your waist.
- Keep your hands and shoulders as relaxed as possible.
- Check your posture.
- Rotate your arms from the shoulders.
You should also check where you hold your tension, such as the shoulders, jaw, and hands, and make sure these are relaxed. For example, if you’ve noticed that you clench your teeth, try to open your mouth gently and take a deep breath. If you have tension in your neck and shoulders, shake out your arms from time to time. These and similar practices help release tension.
2. Breathe Properly
Another thing you should bear in mind while running is breathing. Shallow breathing can lead to annoying side stitches. Instead, you need to breathe deeply in through your nose or mouth and out through the mouth. Deep belly breaths will help you get more oxygen and stay relaxed. Rather than feeling your upper chest, you need to feel your stomach expanding. Your stomach should expand as you breathe, and contract when your diaphragm pushes the air out. Your breathing rhythm depends on how easy or hard you’re running, as well as the intensity of your workout. Try to slow down your pace when you feel your breathing gets out of control or becomes too shallow.
3.Choose the Right Running Route
To start your run, you should find a tranquil route that will make you comfortable and relaxed. Instead of stopping at red lights or dodging cars, choose a car-free trail or path with relaxing scents, sights, and sounds. For instance, running near an area with water or in a forest could be the right route for stress-free running.
4. Avoid Running with Annoying People
Many runners prefer running alone over running in groups in order to stay alone with their thoughts. On the other hand, running with others can make your runs more fun, but only if you find the right person(s) as your mate on the trail. If you run with those who have annoying habits like bragging incessantly, complaining, dominating the conversation, that will make an otherwise peaceful run a stressful experience. Therefore, be careful who you choose as your fellow runners.
Running with a group brings a number of benefits, which is especially true when you run long distances. When you are chatting with other runners, the miles go much faster. However, consider establishing certain rules upfront such as be punctual, leave your dogs and headphones at home, carry your own food and water, be silent sometimes, and so on. All of this will make sure you don’t annoy others and stay safe.
5. Do Not Try to Break Records
If you go for a run with high expectations on how fast and/or far you have to run, you are likely to fall short and feel stressed. Don’t try to break your personal records and achieve gold medal performance every time you run. You should not worry about your distance and pace during one run a week. Of course, we’re talking about recreational running, not about preparing for a big race. Just let your mind wander, take it easy, and relax.
6. Listen to Music
Many people like listening music while running. Music is capable of affecting the subconscious mind where negative thoughts fuel the fires of stress. Listening to music can keep you from your stressors, quickly shift your mood, and help you focus on running. What’s more, this is a quick-acting, inexpensive solution that can make more joy in your runs. You just need to make the right choice regarding the kind of music and earbuds. For example, listening to instrumental music with no words will give you the background sounds that will occupy your mind with good thoughts. Some songs are specially written for running. Make your own playlists of songs that will keep you relaxed and motivated during your runs.
7. Smile while running
Be a friendly runner. Smiling activates the secretion of endorphins in our body. Of course, it’s difficult to smile all the time during a run, but try to put the smile for awhile, especially when you encounter someone (especially other runners) along your route.
Try to apply these tips next time you go for a run and you will notice a big difference in your mood.