We hope you enjoy this month's newsletter -- Running in the Alpha State of Mind. If you find it helpful, please be kind and share it with your running friends!
What is the alpha state of mind and why would we want to run in this state? The alpha mind state is a very relaxed but also a totally aware state of mind. The mind and body are calm and alert and mental processes are improved. It is in this state that runners experience the zone or runners high.
Alpha brain waves, which can be detected using an EEG, are present in the alpha mind state. The brain waves are synchronous and coherent. This state is often achieved during meditation when the mind is quiet. It can also be achieved with deep, slow breathing.
If we could achieve the alpha state of mind every time we ran, we would experience runner's high on every run. We would experience a highly coordinated flow between mind and body, running would become effortless and we would feel rejuvenated after running rather than exhausted.
This is not how most of us feel during or after running using conventional techniques so we need to find a better and easier way to run.
According to Dr. John Douillard, author of Body, Mind, and Sport, it is possible to experience the zone on every run.
In his book, he suggests various techniques to help train the body to handle the stress of running without going into stress mode. The key is to discover the point where your body shifts from comfort and balance to a state of fatigue and exhaustion. When you learn to recognize this state (which is very subtle initially), you can train your body not to go beyond it and stay in an alpha state throughout your entire run.
Running in the alpha state of mind would not only help improve our running performances but it would also help prevent the 80 percent of diseases that are caused by stress and the free radicals it produces!
Also, as we improve how we run and stay more calm, the body begins to burn fats rather than sugar and carbs which are considered emergency fuel when the body is under stress.
"If you want to conquer the anxiety of life,
live in the moment,
live in the breath."
-- Amit Ray, Om Chanting and Meditation
Slow, deep nasal breathing is essential in learning to run in the alpha state of mind. I have learned how to nasal breathe while running, but I have not yet mastered a slow breath rate or low heart rate that are needed. I am working on slowing down my breathing while running at the moment but I must admit, it is not easy.
A quick way of determining if you are training too hard is to watch your breathing pattern. There should be a slight pause between the exhale and the inhale. Try to ensure that this pause exists even while you are running hard. It will help bring awareness and slow down your breathing and it is an indication that you are more relaxed.
In the meantime, I am going to continue to try to slow my breath rate to less than 20 breaths per minute as suggested in the book. I will provide an update on my progress next month. Until then, happy, healthy running!
Check out the update here: Running in the Alpha State of Mind Update
With love and peace,
Read more about nasal breathing in the following articles:
The Buteyko Breathing Method and Running
Improve Your Breathing While Running
How You Breathe While Running Could Be Causing Injuries
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