Meditative Running: How To Find Your Zen

Jesse Silkoff

Runners frequently injure themselves when they stop listening to their bodies. In fact, many runners require training to help them interpret internal signals—warning signs that they’re taxing their muscles and putting themselves at risk of injury.

Unfortunately, we live in a very results-obsessed world. In our urge to compete and our impatience to be better, faster, and stronger, it can become easy for runners to project themselves into visions of future success—rather than focusing on the everyday work of training.

Meditative or mindful running offers a counterpoint to that philosophy—and in many ways, an alternative to the stress and hustle of day-to-day life. Mindful running posits that we can learn to be more efficient and harmonious runners by observing the body, without attempting to adjust our form, or push ourselves harder to go faster.

And just like strength training, mindfulness can be perfected through habit. Here are a few ways you can incorporate meditative practices into your running today.

Pay Attention to Your Breath

Most meditation practices begin by simply observing the breath. As the Buddhist Centre illuminates: “by focusing on the breath you become aware of the mind’s tendency to jump from one thing to another. The simple discipline of concentration brings us back to the present moment and all the richness of experience that it contains.”

To really dial in to your running, start by listening to your breathing. How does your breath align with the motion of your body? Are your steps out of sync with the rhythm of your inhales and exhales? Don’t try to make any changes right now. Just listen. Try to focus your attention on your breathing—instead of allowing your mind to wander.

Practice Observing

Once you’ve spent some time with your breathing, move to your body. For this part, you’ll use an adaptation of a progressive muscle relaxation meditation. Focus your attention slowly from the top of your head, neck and shoulders all the way down to your feet, taking time to observe each part of your body. Pay attention to your form—are you holding your neck stiffly? Are you leaning forward?

Also notice any muscle pain or soreness. How do your muscles feel as you run? As you move through your body, bringing awareness to each part, allow yourself to sense without judgment. Just get to know your body and feel how it’s doing today.

Adjusting Your Form

Next, we’ll make some adjustments to help you run more freely. If you’re tensing up as you run, holding your neck and arms stiffly, let them loosen up. Check that you’re not clenching your fists, as well—your hands should be relaxed enough that you could hold a potato chip in each one without crushing it.

You may also notice that you’re bouncing up and down or leaning forward in an attempt to go faster or work harder. Try to adjust your form so that you’re moving seamlessly through the air, and so that your feet work rhythmically with your breath.

Abandon “Joyless Striving”

I have a yoga teacher who likes to talk about “joyless striving,” a state of pushing ourselves toward a goal without taking pleasure in the process of getting there. Often, this kind of clenching of the will is a sign that we’re pushing ourselves too hard.

Running should be a process—not a one-and-done event—so give yourself the freedom to experience your workout without trying to get it all done in one sprint. After all, just like Rome wasn’t built in a day, you can’t be ready to run a marathon after one run.

When you begin thinking of your runs as a practice, rather than a means to an end, you’ll see fewer injuries and have better form. And you may just enjoy running more, too!

Jesse Silkoff is President and Co-Founder of FitnessTrainer, the leading online marketplace to find a local personal trainer that can help you achieve your health and wellness goals.


Post a Comment

All Contents Copyright © 1995-2016 Life Extension® All rights reserved.
Privacy Policy | Terms of Use
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
The information provided on this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician or other health care professional or any information contained on or in any product label or packaging. You should not use the information on this site for diagnosis or treatment of any health problem or for prescription of any medication or other treatment. You should consult with a healthcare professional before starting any diet, exercise or supplementation program, before taking any medication, or if you have or suspect you might have a health problem. You should not stop taking any medication without first consulting your physician.