Learn to Run Mindfully

Why is it important to run mindfully? Mostly because it makes running easier, improves performance and prevents injuries. However, mindful running also provides many of the same benefits of a mindfulness meditation. When we become mindful while running, our mind and our body become synchronized. This helps us get in the zone and we feel better and enjoy running more.

In this state, running feels easier and more natural. It is more enjoyable and energizing. We let go of overwhelming negative thoughts and we avoid injury. Mindful running recharges the mind and body so we feel energized rather than exhausted after a run. When we run mindfully, it brings a meditative practice to our runs creating a healthier, more enjoyable way to run. 

Amazon Outlet
How to Run Mindfully


Mindful running helps us develop an awareness of our body, which helps us run better and avoid injuries. As we practice mindfulness, we gain insight into the way we run and we can recognize ways in which we can improve our experience. This practice helps us to become present so we can fully enjoy what is happening in the moment—which is running!

How to Run Mindfully


The following four steps will change how you run by bringing an element of mindfulness to your runs. You can practice each one separately or you can practice all of them during a run. However, you need to start with number 1 as it is the basis for all of them. So find whatever works best for you and let that will be the approach you take. Just make sure that you practice regularly. 

1. Focus on Your Breath

Our breath is the most powerful tool in helping us stay present and peaceful. Our breath is always available so we can practice anytime. Our breath helps us to connect with our body and its movements which helps keep distracting thoughts away.

Become aware of your breath and how you breathe while running. Let it become the focus of your run. If you become distracted by thoughts, bring your attention back to your breath and repeat as often as necessary.

Then try inhaling deeply through your nose and down to your belly (diaphragm). This type of breathing calms the nervous system, reduces muscle tension and helps you access the oxygen rich blood in your lower lungs. Deep nasal breathing also helps lower heart rate and blood pressure. It is known to be the healthiest way to breathe so we should practice it all the time—not just when running!

Focusing on our breath while running helps us stay present and mindful and enjoy running more.

"Breath is the bridge which connects life to consciousness,
which unites your body to your thoughts.
Whenever your mind becomes scattered, use your breath as the means to take hold of your mind again.
"

-- Thích Nhất Hạnh


2. Focus on Your Movements

As we practice focusing on our breath and being present, we naturally develop our awareness of what is currently happening. We can use this awareness to improve how we move while running, making it more efficient and easier. 

Let your awareness rest on your body and how it is moving. You may begin to notice ways in which you can improve movement so it feels more enjoyable.

Such as: maybe your stride needs to be shorter; maybe bending your knees would cause less impact; maybe swinging your arms more or keep them more in line with your body would help; maybe you are holding one  shoulder higher than the other; maybe one leg feels more dominant than the other, etc. Just notice what you notice when you are moving. The more you practice this, the better you will become at finding movements that feel better and are most efficient for you. 

The easier running feels, the less likely it is that an injury will occur. 

3. Sync Your Breath and Your Footsteps

When we practice syncing our steps with our breath, we calm the mind and body, we can get into the zone more easily and we learn how to run using less oxygen.

Begin by counting two footsteps for each exhale and two for each inhale. When you have mastered this 2:2 ratio, gradually increase it to 3:3 and then to 4:4 if you can, but give yourself time to develop this skill gradually.

This method has a dual purpose. First of all, your mind will be fully engaged which leaves little room for distracting thoughts. Secondly, it helps you become more efficient with oxygen intake; and efficient running required less energy to run and to breathe.

From my experience in practicing this, I find it easier to concentrate on the exhale and let the inhale take care of itself. On the exhale I push all the air out of my belly using the diaphragm and count four steps while doing this. The inhale then just naturally happens without thinking about it and I count four steps for the inhale before I exhale again.

This way I only need to think about my breath on the exhale which really helps me coordinate this rhythm. It was also helpful to practice the breathing part before going running.

4. Let Go of Thoughts

As much as we practice mindfulness and being present, our thoughts still seem to find a way into our consciousness and sometimes we don't even notice them. However, the more we practice being mindful, the quicker we become aware of our thoughts and the sooner we can do something about them.

As soon as you notice a distracting thought, quickly acknowledge it and then let it go. You can do this effectively by using a visualization technique when you run mindfully. Imagine catching the thought and dropping it on the ground like a stone. You leave the stone (thought) there as you run along. Do this with each thought that arises.

On some runs you may need to do this many times and other times you will be able to control it very well. This is a normal part of the learning process. Remind yourself that you are building mental strength and the more you practice the better you will become.
 

Benefits of Mindful Running

When you run mindfully, you are gaining the same benefits of a mindfulness meditation practice. Such as: 

- Being healthier and happier

- Better stress management

- More productive

- Greater clarity of mind

- More successful

- Increased self-esteem

- Lower blood pressure

- Improved sleep

Is there any reason not to run mindfully? It makes running easier, more efficient, you feel better during and after, and you can enjoy all the benefits of a mindfulness meditation practice. 

I can't think of any reason not to run mindfully, can you?

So how about you? Have you tried to run mindfully? We would love to hear from you. Please share you comments below.

You may also be interested in these articles:

Mindful and Gentle Running Meditation

Mindful Eating

Use Mindfulness to Prevent Running Injuries

Mindful Running


Back to top of How to Run Mindfully

Return to Running and Meditation



FTC Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying  purchases.
Learn more.

NEW FEATURE - DISQUS COMMENTS!

Be the first to comment.
Login using Facebook, Twitter, Google or Disqus.

Loading Comments
#disqus_thread { min-height: 200px; }

Recent Articles

  1. Mindfulness Prevents Running Injuries

    May 29, 24 07:05 AM

    Female runner running upstairs

    Integrating mindfulness into your running routine can significantly reduce the risk of injuries and enhance your overall running experience.

    Read More

  2. Are you tired of bulky and uncomfortable phone carriers while running?

    May 04, 24 01:41 PM

    Best Phone Carrier for Running

    The #PRPocket is the solution you've been seeking. It’s the most comfortable, discreet and secure way to carry your phone while running.

    Read More

  3. Our Cells are Listening to Our Thoughts

    Apr 30, 24 07:11 AM

    Our cells have ears

    This concept isn't far-fetched; it is indeed based on science. Research has proven that our nervous system takes cues from our thoughts, emotions, and mental states, which impacts our physiological c…

    Read More

  4. How to Prevent Black Toenails from Running

    Apr 09, 24 01:41 PM

    How to Prevent Black Toenails

    What causes black toenails while running? Learn how to prevent them and treat them when they are painful.

    Read More

  5. 9 Tips to Prevent Running Injuries

    Mar 28, 24 02:07 PM

    9 Tips to Prevent Running Injuries

    Use these 9 tips to maintain injury-free running, and make it to the finish line every time!

    Read More

  6. Make Running Easier with this Simple Trick

    Mar 20, 24 01:35 PM

    Make Running Easier with this Simple Trick

    Make running easier with this simple trick! It will make you feel more relaxed, happier, healthier, stress free and looking younger!

    Read More

  7. 7 Amazing Advantages of Toe Socks for Running

    Mar 06, 24 11:25 AM

    Toe Socks for Running

    When you discover all the advantages of how these unusual, but brilliant, socks benefit all runners, they may become the only socks you'll ever wear while running.

    Read More

  8. Running in Beautiful Thailand

    Feb 02, 24 05:45 AM

    Running in Beautiful Thailand

    I loved running in Koh Tao, Hua Hin and Cha-Am and each place offered its own unique running experience. I enjoyed having the opportunity to experience tasty food, beautiful scenery and the warm clim…

    Read More

  9. Josh Kerr's World Champion Success Secrets

    Dec 20, 23 11:48 AM

    Josh Kerr World Champion Success

    Josh Kerr was considered the underdog going into the 2023 World Athletics Championship, so after his win, millions were left wondering how he did it. What is the secret to his success?

    Read More

  10. Stunning Running in Dubai

    Dec 04, 23 01:55 PM

    Running in Dubai

    Despite its dry climate, there are unique, spectacular places to run in Dubai! Whenever travelling to this exciting place, whether for business or pleasure, be sure to pack your running shoes.

    Read More