So much of the day is spent pouring out energy into other things and people. So why not learn a new way to spend some of that time mindfully and in dedication to yourself?
From creating a healthy morning routine, to putting up boundaries that help you uphold a work-life balance, there’s a lot of ways that you can incorporate more mindfulness practices into your daily life. One of them is through mindful running.
More than just owning a good pair of running shoes, mindful running is about looking at your relationship with your breath, body, and surroundings as a comprehensive approach to how you invest in your physical, mental and emotional awareness.
Benefits to mindful running
There are several highly positive aspects to this taking on a mindful running or walking practice. Read below for a list of just a few of what those may look like.
- Enhanced physical performance
- Sharpened sensitivity
- Increased mental focus
- Greater clarity around decision-making
- Better short term and long term memory
- Improved creativity
- Reduction of stress and anxiety
The three C’s to mindful running
Mindful running can be summed up into three things: concentration, clarity, and coolness. Taking on these core elements are what will ultimately make a typical run transform into a moving meditation. Below is a deeper explanation of what each of these aspects entail.
This is all about allowing yourself to zero in on what it is that you are experiencing. This means noticing what you’re feeling, thinking and how you may be reacting to external sensory experiences like the wind on your skin or the sun beaming down on your head.
Once you have been able to concentrate on what is going on inside your head and all around you, the use of clarity here comes as a form of establishing a connection between yourself and how what is going on around you makes you feel.
Once you begin to engage in the observation of what is going on and how it affects you, coolness is the third and final step to this process. This is all about allowing yourself to have any emotions, however positive or negative, come to the forefront of your mind while resisting the need to hold on to them.
Pre-run mind and body preparation
Now that you have a better understanding of what are the foundational elements to mindful running, the next step is to familiarize yourself with the process of pre-run and body preparation. This is ultimately what will set you up for a successful time on your run, and create an experience that goes beyond just moving your body.
Create a purpose
Before you start running, set an intention for yourself. What is it that you want to get out of this time? Is there something you’ve been struggling with lately, or an idea you would like to develop? Give yourself a moment to feel in alignment with the purpose behind why you want to go on your mindful walk or jog.
Tip: Write down your purpose.
Practice mindful breathing
Taking steady inhales through your nose and exhaling out through your mouth can help you slow down your heart rate if you feel anxious. On the other hand, if you want to speed up your heart rate and find a nice rhythm to your run, breathing in and out through your nose will help you do this.
Tip: Start your time with a few slow open mouthed exhales until you feel ready to pick up the pace and switch to breathing through your nose.
Pick a new route
Why do the same boring route every time when you can do something different? Finding a different way to and from your destination or going to a new place altogether is a great way to keep your brain active in a way that engages you with all the visuals along the way.
Tip: Map out the routes you want to try at the beginning of the week, and choose ones that are closest to your house or that don’t require driving through traffic.
Engage your senses
What do you feel while running? What do you see when you look around your neighborhood? A large component to any mindful practice, taking note of whatever external sensory experience you are having will ultimately enrich your time with more things to bring you into the present moment.
Tip: Make it a goal for yourself to check in with your senses every couple of minutes throughout the run. This way you can be sure to engage with your senses at least a few times throughout this practice.
At the end of the day, mindful running is really all about remembering to reconnect with yourself. This includes investing in your ability to love and find gratitude for what you have. It’s not about being perfect or checking all the boxes, but rather cultivating self compassion and appreciation for everything around you and how you can experience life more fully in the process.
For more information on how you can kickstart your mindful running practice, see the infographic below!