6 Mindful Tips for Meditation While Running
Running is an excellent exercise, both for the body mind. Studies have shown that regular running helps alleviate stress, anxiety, and depression. When you go for a daily run, you have a perfect opportunity to be alone with yourself, and get some rest from the daily problems and distractions. It is also a time which you can spend meditating.
Being mindful and meditating when running, can help you to control the body and focus on your energy and performance. And even though there is no such thing as meditation during running according to the Buddhist tradition, mainly due to the fact that diaphragmatic breathing is not possible when running at a fast pace, it can be achieved when running at a comfortable pace.
Want to give it a try? Here are 6 tips to follow for meditating when running:
1. Breathe deeply
Pay special attention to your breathing when running. Inhale deeply through the nose and exhale through the mouth. Inhaling and exhaling should last for three steps each. Focusing on your breath will help you control your body much better during the run.
2. Put some thought into your running form
You should be running with your toes facing straight forward, the torso must be pretty still and the arms pumping from the back to the front. Try running with your hands relaxed instead of making fists. If you can’t help doing fists, try to run while making OK signs with your thumbs and index fingers.
3. Pay attention to your steps
When running, you need to feel the entire sole of the feet. A heel-to-toe step must be used especially for long distance, endurance running. When sprinting, it is common to run on your toes only. If you are a bit overweight, consider getting shoes that provide sufficient cushioning and shock absorption.
4. Stop running and walk when you feel tired
Remember that you are not in a competition and that you can take breaks during your daily runs. You can still get the exercise you need, but with some occasional breaks to enjoy the view or just let your body rest for a moment.
5. Make sure you run at your most comfortable pace
If you find that you are panting and having trouble catching your breath when running, then most probably your pace is a little faster than it needs to be. Control your breath and slow down the pace so that it is comfortable enough to practice the deep breathing technique from tip 1 on this list. Keep a comfortable and steady pace.
6. Never skip the stretching before and after the run
Stretching is important for your body and will help you stay safe from running-related injuries, soreness, and other problems. Take the time to stretch all your body parts. Keep each pose for a minute while breathing deeply and slowly.
Rule of thumb
In general, when you keep your focus on your breathing and on your movements, it is less likely that your mind will get distracted by other thoughts; this will help you meditate. In time, you will find that meditation is actually helping your running performance and that your daily runs are becoming a much more enjoyable experience than before. In fact, some runners who practice meditation have found that this helps increase and enhance the “runners high” experience. The inner joy which they experience helps change their entire perspective on their lives and relationships as well as on human existence.
Bonus – Alterative Activity – Parkour
There are alternatives to try this meditation technique such as parkour. Parkour is a great example of “meditative flow” and when the runner is experienced enough to perform the moves automatically, he can engage and derive intense pleasure from concentration on the task. It can help if you are already familiar with the meditation technique. You can watch tutorials, read books or ask for help from an expert in order to learn how to meditate. It is easier if you first practice on a treadmill, or on a route where there are lesser distractions.
Start meditating while running today! It can take some time to get used to it, but you will definitely enjoy it once you grasp the technique.
Cara Haley is the editor-in-chief for Comfort Hacks where she reviews shoes for different foot issues and Fitaholic Gear where she reviews sports shoes. When she’s not running or writing, you can find her hiking, camping or spending time with her family at home. Cara is also a contributor at BookYogaRetreats.com.