Does mindfulness make you a better runner? Here is the answer

Running is an effective exercise, but when coupled with mindfulness, can help you in more ways than one. Read on to know more.
how to practice mindfulness
Make sure you eat the right foods before your run! Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Geetika Sachdev Published: 10 Jun 2021, 13:57 pm IST
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As we all know, mindfulness is the art of being in the present moment. It is an important skill to learn, because it doesn’t just enhance focus, but also improves the quality of your life. Let’s just say mindfulness is even more important when it comes to physical exercise. Yes, it’s true. And when it comes to running, it is even more effective. Plus, it will help to make them more enjoyable!

That’s because when you practice mindfulness while running, you are more in tune with your body and breath, and that can help you achieve the best outcome. This also brings down stress levels and that can help in improving the quality of your runs. 

Now that you have some idea about why mindfulness is important here, let’s get down to details.

How does mindfulness help runners?

The answer is by making them more present. As mentioned above, it helps runners focus more on their physical sensations and emotions. There’s a study that was conducted in 2009 that testifies to this. It says that mindfulness training may help runners “develop better acceptance of any experience of anxiety around running and to not let their worries distract and bother them as much.”

What’s more, another study published in 2019 revealed that mindfulness training can also help to get rid of all competition-related anxiety, especially in top-performing athletes. It also improves sports performance and aids in faster recovery from injuries. In fact, it also reduces the occurrence of injuries. 

Mindfulness can prevent injuries. Image Courtesy : Shutterstock

Last but not the least, there’s another 2019 study that shows how mindfulness improved the mental well-being in baseball players.  

Mindful movement

Being mindful can help runners get into the zone. It starts with focusing on the breath, and then it moves to observing the various sensations that happen in the body, while running. Trust us, you will find out if you are in the flow, once there is no chatter in the mind. And if you feel your mind is wandering away, you can bring your attention back to your breath and body. 

There’s also some evidence to show that practising mindfulness can activate your parasympathetic nervous system. When the mind is in the ‘mindful zone’, there will be more rest and less stress on your body. It also helps to boost muscle recovery during your rest days. 

How can you practice mindfulness while running?

It isn’t so easy at first, but as they say, practice makes a (wo)man perfect, so don’t stop! First of all, warm up your body with belly breathing. 

Here’s how to do it:

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1. Breathe in deeply through your nose and out through your mouth.
2. Place one hand on your chest and the other on your belly, to ensure that your diaphragm inflates with air.
3. Do five to six deep breaths before starting your run. You can do them right after doing some pre-run warm-up exercises such as light stretching.

These stretching exercises will relax your muscles like no other. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Next, make sure you practice nasal breathing. That’s because deep belly breathing works while you are sitting.

During running, here’s what you must do:

1. Focus on steady inhales and exhales through your nose.
2. If you find it difficult to breathe deeply through your nose, you can let out the occasional exhale through your mouth.
3. If you maintain a consistent running pace, you should eventually be able to practice nasal breathing for the duration.
4. Stay focused on each breath in and each breath out.
5. Notice how your breathing rate is starting to change as you go.

Last but not the least, do notice sensations in your body, while you are running. You could also experience pain or discomfort; let’s
just say that is your body’s way of signalling to you that you must slow down.

So ladies, practise mindfulness and enhance your runs by a notch!

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About the Author

An independent writer and journalist, Geetika loves sharp and fresh humour, just like her coffee! If not writing, you'll find her cafe-hopping and raiding the best book stores in town. ...Read More

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