How to Practice Mindfulness as a Runner
If we told you that you could improve your running, overall fitness and mental health by just making some small changes that actually won’t take you a great deal of time, would you snap to attention?
I guess that you would be all on board with learning how to get more out of your body without actually pushing yourself harder in the weight room or on the road. This is where meditation for runners comes into play.
With a good deal of running having more to do with the mental than the physical aspects, practicing mindfulness as a runner can really take you far.
Whether you are looking to hammer out your fastest 5K, which requires you to lean into the pain, or if you are registered to tackle your first 100K, the mental aspect and mindful running is very real.
The 6 Benefits of Meditation
Running meditation will help you in so many ways to become a better runner.
- Slow Your Brain: Sometimes, the best gift you can give yourself is to stop the thoughts rushing through your brain. Meditation can help with that and keep you in the present moment.
- Focus: Meditating can help you focus in ways you didn’t know you could.
- Mental Strength: Because you learn to control your thoughts, you will find yourself pushing through discomfort in a new way.
- Staying On Pace: Meditation is a good way to hone in on your own body and not get sucked into someone else race. This is important if you are going the distance and can’t risk heading out too fast.
- Positive Mindset: You learn to control your inner dialogue.
- Visualization: Taking some time to visualize your success, including giving yourself positive mantras, can help you be successful.
Can Meditation Help With Running?
Michael Jordan reportedly meditated every day because it helped him clear his head and focus on basketball once he was on the court.
Marathoning great Deena Kastor also speaks highly of this tool regarding her running career.
Widely known to help relieve anxiety, insomnia, and depression, people, find even more uses for mediation.
Does Meditation Make You Run Faster?
Meditation does not immediately make you run faster. It’s not like a magic pill. However, it can have that impact. How does that translate?
Well, you get better at controlling your own mind. Think back to the last time you worked hard, either at the track or in a race. Did the negative thoughts start creeping in? Were you tempted to make a deal with yourself and slow down or stop?
Meditation helps you to gain more control of your mental faculties. You can use the skills gained in mediation to help you block out the noise. Also, some runners report they gain a sixth sense about their own bodies.
How Do You Meditate for Running?
If you are new to meditation, starting is simple. The first thing to do is find a quiet place to be alone with your thoughts. Sit or lie down. You may envision yourself sitting cross-legged on the floor with music playing in the background, and if that works for you, great. However, there are no clear rules for meditation.
Once you find a comfortable spot, close your eyes and breathe. Sure, you have probably heard that you will quiet and relax by breathing deeply, and that is true; however, that is not a requirement. Just breathe and relax.
Sometimes newbies worry that they have too much going through their brain for the mediation to count.
Remember: this is your quiet time.
Be patient with yourself as you figure out how to slow your brain down. As you get better with meditation, you will learn to just “be” instead of thinking about everything.
One great type of meditation is a form of visualization. You picture yourself succeeding at a task you are hoping to achieve. For example, you could see yourself racing, passing people, and doing great.
Guided meditation for runners can be as simple as listening to a podcast that talks you through relaxing and clearing your brain or as specific as a coach (or someone else) talking you through a race you are about to tackle.
Should I Meditate Before or After Running?
There is not a perfect answer here. Meditating before running will help you relax your body, maintain your well-being, and focus on what you are about to accomplish.
On the other hand, meditation after running is a good way to relax and clear your brain. Meditation after physical activity helps some athletes wind down and reflect.
If you are looking for a time of day to meditate and easily work it into your day, consider right away when you wake up in the morning. Roll out of bed and just give yourself 10 minutes while still in your pajamas. That mindfulness first thing in the morning will help you start your day with great inner peace.
Many people swear by evening meditation. Slowing down your brain and body shortly before bed is also a wonderful way to cap off the day. The danger of that is that you might relax enough to fall asleep.
If you have a meditation goal, make sure you are doing it sitting, not lying down!
Can I Practice Mindfulness While Running?
Mindfulness is just being very present in the moment you are in. If you are making a conscious effort to achieve this, you ensure that you are paying attention to everything. This includes your breathing, footfalls, and everything around you.
The benefits of this are that you are very aware of what your body is doing and what you are capable of.
While leaving the music at home may seem scary and just focusing on your body, you won’t regret doing it. It is even worth considering taking off the Garmin or any other smartwatch you wear. Just head out the door and let the magic happen.
If you struggle with mindfulness and need a distraction while running, Nike Running Club App has a series for you. You may have listened to the Headspace guided runs if you are an NRC member. If you are like me and you loved experiencing them, there is an entire series you can subscribe to.
For those who want to experience mindfulness while running, you can pick one of these podcasts or subscribe to meditation apps, pop in your headphones, and let the magic happen.
How Do You Meditate Before a Race?
Pre-race meditation can be fantastic. First, it can help you relax. Second, you can take some time to visualize what you are about to do. Lastly, it gets you in the right mindset.
It can be hard to quiet your brain to meditate if you have not done it before. This is why if you hope to use a form of meditation, you should be doing it at least a few times each week. If you can set aside 5-10 minutes, even a few days each week, you can reap the benefits.
Meditation can be done the night before the big race to help calm your jitters and relax. On the morning of the race, take a few minutes to do the same.
Heck, you can even take a few minutes to breathe deeply, close your eyes, and find your focus when surrounded by thousands of people in a crowded race corral.
If you have been thinking about meditation, it is now time to put it into action. Whether you break out your yoga mat or just lie down on your bed, just find yourself a quiet spot and give it a shot.
Don’t delay; start today.
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