Your running practice has made you fitter, more active, and full of energy. Your back and knees are stronger, and you’re sleeping better. It does make you want to take the habit up a notch, right? Well, there are some ways to run faster, longer, and more often, and the interesting thing is, they have nothing to do with running. As they say, it’s a question of “Mind over Miles”. Here’s how to layer mindfulness over your run, aside from other aspects of your life.
Rest and relaxation
This may seem counterintuitive, but you could amp up the run by relaxing more. The trick here is to choose a form of mindful relaxation that improves your running practice. Meditation, for instance, could help improve the ability to deal with pain that might sometimes make you want to skip running or other forms of exercise. If you’d prefer something more active, studies on mindfulness and physical activity indicate that mindful fitness like yoga or tai-chi can improve breathing and heart rate, both contributing to a better run.
We all have a go-to playlist that keeps the mind off the strain of the run, but whenever possible, switch off the music and focus on the sound of your feet pounding the pavement or your breath as you push your body forward. Chant a personal mantra, if it helps. Certified running coach Robin Arzón shared a few techniques to practice mindful running in The New York Times and suggested using a mantra like “I am”, which has a cadence similar to footsteps.
Keep a journal
Journaling is a great way to reduce anxiety and improve mental clarity, but it also brings perspective to your running practice. Some days, you might get caught up in your daily to-do list and lose track of what your running routine has given you. That’s when demotivation sets in. But by simply tracking the benefits of the run, you could give yourself a powerful motivational tool to carry on. Record the intentions you have set for your running practice, along with the milestones you’ve achieved and look back at this periodically. It’ll keep you going on those days when you’re tempted to ask “What’s the point?”
Take care of your body
Don’t forget that the runner’s body is subject to wear and tear too. Dr Zhaoping Li, Professor of Medicine and Director of the Center for Human Nutrition at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, recommends eating fruit and veggies to ease muscle soreness and limit injuries, and proteins to build back muscle fibres in the way that runners need it. You can also use everyday mindful practices along with regular chiropractic care to prevent aches and pains and keep your body injury-free and ready to run. Studies indicate that chiropractic treatment regimens can increase hip mobility over time, improving a runner’s range of motion.
As you practise these tips, you’ll bring mindfulness into your running routine and also find new ways to tolerate pain and reduce depression and anxiety. You’ll have to agree — it’s a win-win when you run with your mind.