5 Reasons Runners Need to Meditate!

So why do runners need to meditate? Meditation provides specific benefits that improve running. Runners need a strong, clear mind to stay motivated and to keep going when the going gets tough. Meditation strengthens the mind in the same way that running strengthens the body. We need to be strong mentally and physically to run efficiently.

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Meditation is no longer considered a practice just for monks sitting cross-legged in caves. It has become mainstream with many celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey, Katy Perry, and Richard Gere singing its praises, and there is now significant scientific evidence to support its benefits. 

Scientific discoveries are continually finding more concrete evidence of the incredible health benefits of meditating, which also affect how well we run. These are brilliantly illustrated in the following short, fascinating video from AsapSCIENCE on the Scientific Power of Meditation.  

Other than the astonishing health benefits mentioned in the video, there are five more reasons runners need to meditate and you don't need to sit cross-legged on a cushion for hours. You can sit comfortably on a chair or lie down any time or place as long as you won't be disturbed. You can start with just five minutes a day. It is much easier and more enjoyable than you might think, and there are lots of apps to help. I have shared a few of them at the end of this post, but first here are the reasons all runners need to meditate.   

5 Reasons Runners Need to Meditate

1) Builds Mental Strength

Meditation helps us develop a stronger sense of our authentic self. As we become better at focusing in the present moment, we become more positive. We increase inner strength and confidence. We can get through the tough parts of running as we have more confidence in our inner strength. When we are mentally strong, we don't need to rely on music or other distractions to get us through a long run. We learn to enjoy the experience as we train our mind to overcome obstacles. We are more confident and we know we can do whatever we put our mind to!

Women sitting in meditation pose

2) Prevent Injuries

Many runners depend on running for their daily dose of feel good endorphins, so they often run too many days rather than taking rest days. Meditation gives us another source of endorphins! When fatigued, a runner can still enjoy a dose of endorphins by meditating rather than over-training and risking getting injured.

During intense running, cortisol, the stress hormone, gets released in the body. Cortisol is known to reduce bone density, which increases the risk of injury. Meditation decreases the production of cortisol so it counteracts the amount created by intense running—thus reducing the risk of injury and illness. Cortisol has also been known to cause other ill-effects such as chronic stress, abdominal fat, and high blood pressure. 

3) Become a More Efficient Runner

  • Meditation increases our awareness of our whole self--our body, thoughts, form, pace, and attitude. As we develop a heightened awareness of our mind and body, we notice what our mind is bringing to each run. If we hold ourselves back for any reason, we will begin to realize it and can overcome it. Sometimes we criticize ourselves without being aware of it and it negatively affects our performance. 
  • Meditation helps us learn how to relax and release tension from our body. Holding tension in our body while running wastes so much precious energy. When we learn how to release tension,  we can efficiently use all our energy and run better.
  • As mentioned in the video above, meditation increases the variability of our heart rate. This is good news for runners as this function plays a critical role in transporting oxygen and carbon dioxide through our body. A good oxygen exchange is essential for efficient running.
  • Meditation has the ability to help us run faster. If we are no longer creating negative experiences with our mind, we will have more positive runs. And more positive running usually results in faster running!
  • Meditation also boosts the immune system so we can spend more time running and less time recovering from colds and viruses. 

Life repeats itself mindlessly --
unless you become mindful, it will go on repeating like a wheel.

- Osho

4) Alleviate Fears While Running

When we are running, our mind often thinks about the things that could go wrong on the run. These thoughts create fears. Fears, such as:  running out of water, getting too tired to finish, developing pain or  cramps, getting too hot or too cold, etc. The list is endless. Meditation trains the mind how to deal with these thoughts of fear.

We will become less afraid of pain and will know how to deal with it when it arises. We learn how to identify fear thoughts, as they are just thoughts; which, when recognized, can be more easily released.  

5) Brings Balance to Our Lives

Meditation is a chance for our body and mind to experience stillness and bring balance into our lives. We need both stillness and movement to stay wholly healthy. Running provides the movement we need and meditation gives us the opportunity to enjoy stillness. When we do both, our whole self is being nourished. Runners need to meditate to experience balance and harmony. 

Meditation Apps

If you would like to get started on a meditation practice, I highly recommend Headspace.com. I have no affiliation with this program, but I have used this app for over a year. I like it because the meditations  are simple to do yet very effective. You can access it on your computer or through an app on your smart phone. Currently, they offer a free trial for 14 days and if you like it, you can purchase a monthly or annual subscription. 

I have also used and greatly enjoyed the Balance app. It is available in the App Store and on Google Play. It is highly personalized to your specific goals and you can try it out free!

Another app I have used is InsightTimer. It has so many free meditations and it has a meditation timer, which is perfect when you just want to meditation in silence. It won't keep ringing like your phone timer! 

I have not used the Ten Percent Happier app, but it is highly recommended for beginners, especially skeptics. If this sounds like you, maybe this is the meditation app for you. 

So what are you waiting for? Runners need to meditate! Download your app of choice and start meditating now!  

Comments or questions? Please share below.

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