Why do you run?
Maybe it’s to get out of your head. I think a lot — so sometimes it’s nice to just not think so much. Not thinking as much while running can be a form of meditation — which is just one reason that running can leave us feeling so darn good.
Maybe you are chasing that runner’s high (again, trying to feel better than when you started).
An even better goal is to get into the flow state. You know the flow state — when everything just seems to flow easily. It’s not just for athletes, either! Performers, crafters — anything you enjoy doing that makes you lose track of time is basically the flow state (sometimes referred to as in the zone).
Overthinking things keeps the flow state away. Concentrating only on how your body feels might also keep it away — you start thinking that this feels hard, or you distract yourself with thoughts of what you’re going to eat after your run.
Connecting your body and mind allows you to stay present. Thinking about the future can feel pleasant, but in the end, you’re not there. You’re losing the pleasure you could get in this moment.
Right here, right now
Ruminating about the past — that fight you had with your friend or kids, the things you didn’t get done — that’s also going to rob your from the pleasure you could get, right here, right now.
I’m linking up with My First 5K and More, Running With Attitude, Runs with Pugs, Zenaida and Run Laugh Eat Pie for Fit Five Friday. Today I’m sharing 5 ways you can use running to connect your body and mind and hopefully find joy on the run.
1: Notice your breath
This is probably the easiest way to connect mind and body. When you bring your attention to your breath, your breathing will naturally slow down — although maybe not so much on the run! When your breathing is slower, your thoughts will also slow down. You can even try to take your attention to where you feel your breath in your body (nose, chest, belly?).
2: Yoga Warmup
Taking the time to practice some Yoga before you start your run will not only help you warm up your body, it will also help connect your body to your mind.
3: Practice a Body Scan
Start at your feet and work your way all the way up to your head. Where can you relax, even just 10%? Muscle tension means you’re using up some of your precious energy that would be better spent propelling your run.
I read an article about how sighing can help you to connect body and mind, and unfortunately I didn’t save it and haven’t been able to find it again. However I came across an interesting post (click here to read it) that talks about the mental and physical effects of sighing.
Sighing allows an extra burst of oxygen to enter our lungs, which leads to improved blood flow, feelings of relaxation, and lowered levels of stress.
Feeling stressed out by your run? Try a sigh and just let it all go!
5: Run outside and look around!
It’s so easy to develop tunnel vision while running, especially if it’s a hard workout. When you spend some time noticing the sky, trees, flowers, other people out there, animals — you are taking some of the effort out of your run. While you’re at it, why not concentrate on the rest of your senses:
- What do you smell?
- What do you taste?
- What do you feel touching your body?
- What do you hear?
You probably do use running as a moving meditation sometimes, without ever calling it that. It’s okay to get lost in our thoughts, maybe even better sometimes to turn our mind off completely (well, maybe not completely so you get lost!), but I think you’ll reap even more benefits from your runs when your mind and body are connected.
Connecting body and mind is a skill, and like any skill, it becomes easier with practice. Remember, it’s not about how often you fail, it’s about how often you try again!
Do you use running to tune out or tune in?
Do you ever think about your mind body connection?
What makes a run great for you?