How Meditation Can Help Your Running
For most people, mediation is a strictly spiritual exercise. It is usually associated with Eastern religions or new age spirituality, not with running. Without joining a church or subscribing to any particular world view, meditation can also be beneficial for your everyday life and running .
But how can meditation help with your running? It is very simple. There is no secret wisdom you need to acquire or bizarre ritual that you need to follow for meditation to benefit you and your running. Follow these simple instructions and you will notice an improvement in your life and in your running.
Take A Moment Away And Just Be
The modern world is a hectic one. Our phones are constantly going off. Advertisements are popping up everywhere. It seems like everyone is demanding our attention. And all that demanding can take a serious toll on you. To be an effective runner, you need to find time to get away from the world. Sometimes that means turning off your cellphone or TV. Or you could spend some time meditating.
Meditation isn’t as weird or foreign as some people think. You don’t have to sit cross legged or wear nothing but a white towel around yourself. That is far from the truth. You can meditate while sitting in your car or at the table with a cup of coffee. It can be ritualized for religious purposes, with particular dress and sitting position, but doesn’t have to be.
Simply getting away from the chaos and madness of your day helps you to relax. Living and exercising with a tense attitude can lead to frustration and an unfocused mind. When we aren’t giving what we are doing our full attention, that’s when we make mistakes. That’s when we get hurt.
By taking time to meditate and get away from the noise and chaos, even for a few minutes, you will notice immediately that you will be calmer, more relaxed, and ready to tackle the next two instructions to help your running.
Don’t Empty The Mind – Focus It
Meditation is practiced differently in different religions, but there is a common thought held by those outside of any religious circles: meditation is an emptying of the mind. People often think that to meditate you need to push every thought out of your brain. That may sound nice and very spiritual, but it is an unrealistic idea.
The human mind is never empty. There is always some thought just waiting to be dwelt upon. The champions of meditation don’t recommend you try to empty your brain. It is a fruitless endeavor. Rather, they say that you should focus on one thing. Don’t attempt to purge every thought you have, but concentrate on one specific thing for a period of time.
Meditation is the deliberate concentration on one particular thing. For religious and spiritual reasons, it can something central to their faith. But for runners, it can be any number of things. Think about your breathing. Think about how you want to increase your step to breath ratio. Think about the path that you want to run. Think about the goal you are trying to achieve, completing a marathon or placing higher in the marathon than you did last year.
Think about that one thing, and only that one thing. It doesn’t have to be a long deliberation. It could be a few minutes. For some, it may be as long as half an hour. Don’t let anything disturb you or draw your attention away from your focus.
Deliberate thought is the first step in the realization of any dream. By taking a moment out of your day and focusing on what you want and how you are going to get there, without any distractions, you are making headway to achieving your running goals.
Don’t empty the mind. Focus it. Focus on your goals. Focus on your dreams. Focus on your running.
It cannot be overstated how important breathing is. Our lives depend on it. As runners, you are only as good as your breathing. Yes, there is more to running than just breathing. However, if you spent half a marathon panting and gasping for breath, you would realize that breathing is perhaps more important than how muscular your legs are.
Breathing has been a part of mediation from the beginning. Monks in different religious spend hours concentrating on their breathing. It isn’t that they are just spending time being aware of their breathing. They work on taking deeper, fuller breaths.
This has a very simple application for runners. As we are stressing and working our bodies by running, we are stressing and working our lungs. Taking time to routinely work on full and deep breaths will enable us to gain a simple edge in our running.
Taking deeper and fuller breaths enables the body to give more oxygen to the body, giving it energy to go. The more energy, the longer and harder you can push the body. By practicing meditation and working on your breathing, you will be able to run harder and further.
To achieve this, start by sitting up straight. This can be done on the floor, with your back straight or in a chair. To take a proper deep breath, you should see your chest and stomach expand. Do not force the stomach out. Rather, let the air fill your lungs and diaphragm. Your chest and stomach will rise ever so slightly. A deeper and fuller breath will give you more oxygen to the body, which will help give life and energy to your running.
Another way to practice breathing while meditating is hypoventilation. This is the practice of holding your breath for extended periods of time, either with full lungs or empty lungs. Hypoventilation was talked about here at more length.
Doing breathing exercises while at home is much safer than attempting it while you are running. Should complications arise, you are in a safe space to recover and get additional help if needed. Practicing your breathing, for deeper and fuller breaths, will prep you for when you are ready to go running.