Running helps to burn calories, build bone strength, reduce anxiety and many more health benefits. But recently there has been an increase in popularity in practising mindfulness while running to further enhance the health benefits. Mindfulness has been a buzzword over the last few years, with many individuals realising that it can help with everything from stress and depression to reducing symptoms of various health conditions. It can be a vital tool that can help the brain reduce distractions – just like running itself!
A Harvard study reported that “brain cells use particular frequencies, or waves, to regulate the flow of information in much the same way that radio stations broadcast at specific frequencies. One frequency, the alpha rhythm, is particularly active in the cells that process touch, sight and sound in the brain’s outermost layer, called the cortex, where it helps to suppress irrelevant or distracting sensations and regulate the flow of sensory information between brain regions.” Mindfulness has been shown to improve attention-based adjustments to this alpha rhythm, but how can that help to improve your running?
Why Practise Mindfulness While Running?
For most runners, they put on some loud, energetic music and set out to run a new personal best every single time. This might seem logical, but it really isn’t a beneficial way to run. Your body has ups and downs, just like your mind, and isn’t always ready to give 110% to every single run. What is more effective is actually listening to and respecting what your body can do that day.
It isn’t possible to get a new personal best every time, but listening to your body while running can help you enhance your run times effectively. Mindfulness can be a great tool to help get out of these negative running habits and move forward to a healthier and better running approach. Mindfulness will help you to tune into your body and the present moment, leaving you more aware of your mind, body and surroundings.
Benefits Of Mindfulness While Running
Practising regular mindfulness can help to lower blood pressure, reduce stress, boost your immune system and improve concentration. Paying close attention to your body during running, without judgement or distraction, can help to make your runs more effective. Here are just a few of the benefits of mindfulness while running;
- Push Yourself Further: Instead of setting out thinking that your next run is going to be your best yet, mindfulness helps you to understand how and why you can improve. When you are listening to your body and surroundings, you will know when you are overexerting yourself and when your body is ready to go further and faster.
Mindful awareness of running can help you to operate with greater intention and relate to things like physical discomfort during your runs.
- Increased Focus And Calm Mind: One simple way of practising mindfulness is to just focus on your breathing during a run. This can help you reach a calm state of flow while running, which can improve your overall effectiveness. If you have negative thoughts while running, you can learn to change these into more productive ideas that will help enhance your run.
When you run with a calm mind and better focus, you can make running a more enjoyable activity. Mindfulness can help to make space for yourself and your emotions.
- Improved Form: When you practice mindfulness while running, you will become fully aware of your body. This can help you to run with a better form, as you will be aware of exactly how you are running.
Improved form can help you to achieve your goals and push yourself further than ever before. It can also help to avoid injuries and lead to faster recoveries, so you have less time away from the track.
- Overcome Mental Hurdles: Most runners experience mental barriers that prevent them from reaching their goals and progressing. It could be a distance, time or route barrier, that you just can’t bring yourself to break. Mindfulness can help you to overcome these barriers and push yourself to run further and longer.
How To Practice Mindfulness While Running?
Mindfulness is something that takes time and effort to learn and perfect. It is a flexible practice that you can choose to complete during your runs. Begin by choosing one aspect of your run to concentrate on, whether that is your breath, your body or your environment.
What really matters is that your attention is on the present moment and not wandering elsewhere. Practising mindfulness like this can strengthen your concentration and improve your overall running. Remember that the mind is often more important than the body when it comes to endurance, and it will be your focus and determination that will keep you going