Mindful Running: A Guide to a Calmer and Happier Run
Running can be a chance to go over the events of the past days or week and clear your head. Or it can allow your mind to become even more jumbled and stressed. Many people use that time of running to go through their mental filing cabinets. Going over the things that bother them or that prick at their conscience. Then, instead of feeling refreshed when they are done running, they feel emotionally drained.
This happens because running gets the blood pumping and the heart moving fast. This will then allow the brain to think more clearly. People who already have emotional issues or who have suffered through traumatic experiences may inadvertently use that time to bring all of that to the surface. It may not be something they choose to do, but it just happens, and we want to share with you how mindful running can help you combat that problem.
Live in the Present
If you don’t want to dwell on your past and the pain it contains when you run, then you need to focus on your present. Look at where you are now, be mindful of what is happening in your life at that moment and take the opportunity to go over your schedule for the day. This has to be a personal choice, as it probably won’t happen on its own. We naturally dredge up painful, emotional things when we exercise, especially with running and its monotony. So, to focus on the present has to be a willful choice. You have to tell yourself that you want to deal with your present situation and not the past and plan to point your thoughts in that direction.
If you do that, then you can solve some problems as you run and get things in order. Coming off the run feeling energized and ready to take on the world. It all starts, however, with how you choose to spend your running time.
Focus on Your Actions
You may be the kind of person whose mind will wander when they exercise. If that is the case, then you need to clear your thoughts and focus them in such a way that they will not be able to wander. We suggest paying attention to your breathing and trying to keep your stride at the same pace as your breathing. This aligns your entire body and gets it all working together for one purpose. That makes it harder for extraneous thoughts to come out and cause you emotional turmoil.
You can do it like this- take in a breath and then take three steps, then let out a breath and take three more steps. You will get into a rhythm where you take a certain amount of steps with every breath, and you will have to stay focused on that and not have much room in your mind for anything else. This also helps to relax your mind, letting it recover from stress and being overworked.
Make a Plan to Deal with Negative Thoughts
If you are having a particular stressful week, then when you go running you may not be able to help yourself in thinking about all the stressful things happening to you. It is only natural for this to happen from time to time, but you’ll want to prepare for that to happen. You may have every intention of going out running with a clear head a focused mind but then start to get jumbled, stressful thoughts a few minutes later.
One way to combat this is to stop running when those thoughts get into your head. You tell yourself that as you stop running the bad thoughts still stop forming and you force yourself to stop and clear your head. Then you can start up your breathing and running again, with a clear head. You refocus yourself on what you are doing and how you are running, but then stop and deal with the negative thoughts as soon as they start to occur. This may take a few starts and stops to get it right and to keep your head clear, but you will find it works better than just trying to force your mind to clear as you run. You’ll be getting your body and minding in sync by stopping your run, clearing your head, and then starting the run again. That makes it so much easier to actually be rid of the bad thoughts.
Get Rid of Distractions
You also want to eliminate distractions. If you are wearing poor quality gear, then you will probably be distracted. You can research what the best running gear is for you by using sites such as Jogging Addiction.
You may also need to leave the music at home. Especially if you are used to bringing earphones as you run. This way, you prevent the music from triggering an emotional response, as music is prone to do.
If you find that counting steps and breaths works for you, anything that distracts from that may need to go. This can even include your running partner. Your partner may bring up topics of conversions that you don’t want to talk about. They may simply distract you from your strides and breaths. Think about whether you should be doing the run by yourself.
Mindful running can make a big difference in how you feel when you are finished running. Try it out and see if it can be of benefit to you.