We all know that running is one of the best activities to enhance your cardiovascular health. In fact, running makes the mind less prone to age-related cognitive decline inabilities. So running helps burn calories like no other activity, meditation helps identify one’s self with the activity. Meditation guides the mind and increases awareness and compassion towards one’s self. Running shows its effect on physiological and cardiovascular health, but we still need to further enhance our mental health by reducing stress, anxiety, and improving concentration.
Gaining mental strength
Many a time question may arise, “Why we are talking about meditation when we are engaged in an activity that requires physical strength and exhaustion?” It appears that many take these activities as completely different and hence find no relation between them. In actuality, there are tons of relations among them! If one activity exhausts you, you require balance so that another activity calms you, right? Let us see how.
Common between meditation and running
We all know that if we want to run longer or faster, we need to do repeated practice sessions. We repeat the process again and again to reach our goal. Well! Meditation is also the same. Here we have to repeat the same process, again and again, to increase effectiveness and benefit out of it. Failures are part of both running as well as meditation. However, both require practice, a better understanding of technique, and motivation to improve as a human being.
There are basically two types of meditation practices that most runners adopt. One is doing both the activities separately (stand-alone) and the other is doing together. We will cover both and then you can pick anyone or maybe both.
A runner can find time before the run or after the HR recovery. Here meditation is practiced as a separate session. Many runners try and focus on any injury they might be having. Others focus on their running event, style, or technique. This meditation is like watching yourself perform and then trying to find out the best form.
So many runners say that running brings them peace, happiness, joyfulness, and a sense of wellbeing when they run. So why separate running and meditation. We have already written about mindful meditation and its benefits. Running is the best form of mindful meditation. In running, one needs to focus on physical movement and breathing. Thus all distractions are eliminated. Finally, the body gets tuned to meditation.
Benefits of meditation for runners
- It improves strength of mind and prepares it for more difficult levels of running.
- It eliminates the low feeling which one gets after a failed run. In fact ‘Run-meditation’ is never a failed run. It might have been less on physical front but still best at mental level.
- Meditation as stand-alone session or run-meditation both have shown that level of tolerance towards pain increases.
- Meditation also results in more energy available for running.
- Run-meditation has shown improvement in speed and endurance on more than 90% runners.
- Meditation helps accept if you have to take a break from running due to some injury or otherwise. Hence it keeps you away from negative feelings.
- Meditation helps you to learn from disappointments.
How to practice run-meditation
We have written about standalone meditation sessions. So let us now cover run-meditation.
- Before your first step, remind that you are going to practice run-meditation. This is important especially if you are running in a crowded place or in a group.
- As you take your first step, start feeling the rhythm, your stride and movement of hands. Remember to start slow and allow your mind to adopt the physical movement.
- Focus on your breath and see how as you run, your breath is changing. In case it is getting too short, too quickly, inhale completely and exhale completely. Emptying your lungs and refill by taking a long breath often helps delay fatigue.
- Beware of your surroundings. Take your mind off from all other activities except those involved in running. The activity also includes other people who are running or walking, how you pass those trees or checkpoint of your run and other such things.
- Get a support for any guided meditation application for runners. Many runners run with earphones/ headphone and listen to songs which is also an excellent way to do mindful running. However you can also tune into guided meditation sessions for runners.
Article By: Capt Jitender Harjai Fitness Counsellor H2F Care