When you go for a run, you physically
separate yourself from your workaday world.
Mentally, you can refocus and take a break
from the concerns, worries, plans and other
distractions that you are usually immersed in.
Instead, you are free to pay attention to your
immediate experiences, the sensations and
sights and sounds of running.
Running also tends to create the same
kind of openness toward your thoughts that is
key to mindfulness. On a run, you tend to be
outside your usual social roles and your ego-driven persona. You can dial down your self-consciousness and self-criticism. Without all
that baggage, you’re better able to consider
your thoughts objectively.
Practicing mindfulness on a run is not
complicated. It works in any running scenario: training, racing, during a long run, a
short run, as part of an intense workout or as
part of an easy recovery jog.
for your health
You can be mindful throughout a run or
use mindfulness techniques in certain situations, such as when you’re feeling pain or
fatigue, such as during the last six miles of a
marathon. Typically, when discomfort sets in,
you try to resist it or ignore it. Mindfulness
counsels moving toward the pain, embracing
and fully acknowledging it. Once you quit
resisting, it loses some of its power over you.
You experience it more as just another sensation. A;er acceptance can come dismissal as
you direct your focus toward other sensations
and let the pain recede into the background.
So try practicing mindfulness while you
run. Not only will you continue to get a great
fat-burning cardio workout, but your run will
be more liberating, stress reducing and
rewarding than ever before. Plus, a;er learning to run mindfully, you’ll be ready to try
mindfulness in other areas of your life. C
Costco member Gary Dudney is a columnist
for Ultrarunning magazine.
Run to your
By Gary Dudney
EVER NOTICE HOW a good run leaves you
in a better frame of mind? You’re less stressed
out, more self-assured, ready to jump back in
and take on your problems, which seem
almost magically less daunting a;er the run.
;ese psychological bene;ts from running
happen to be similar to the bene;ts people
who practice mindfulness claim to enjoy.
In a nutshell, mindfulness is the practice of
deliberately focusing attention on the thoughts,
sensations and emotions that one is experiencing at the present moment, and accepting them
without judgment or evaluation.
Connections to running
Running provides a natural medium for
practicing mindfulness. Concentrating on
your breathing, the rhythmic metronome of
your stride, the swing of your arms or the
steady contact of your feet on the ground are
all ways to center your attention on the here
and now and to empty your mind of extraneous thoughts.