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 it feels tough. Meditation strengthens the mind in the same way that running strengthens the body. We need to be strong in both to run efficiently.

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. The latest discoveries in science are finding more concrete evidence of the incredible health benefits of meditating, which 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 you develop a stronger sense of your authentic self. As you become better at being focused in the present moment, you become more positive. You increase your inner strength and confidence. You are more capable of getting through the tough parts of running as you have more confidence in your inner strength. When you are stronger mentally, you don't need to rely on music or other distractions to get you through a long run. You can enjoy the experience more as you train your mind how to overcome obstacles. You are more confident and you know you can do it!

Runners Need to Meditate

2) Prevent Injuries

Many runners depend on running to provide their daily dose of  endorphins to feel good so they often run too many days rather than taking a rest day. Meditation is another way to receive a daily dose of endorphins! When fatigued, a runner can still enjoy the effects of  endorphins by meditating on a rest day rather than risking getting injured with continuous running.

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 can counteract the amount that intense running creates—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 your awareness of your whole self--your body, your thoughts, your form, your pace, your attitude. As you develop a heightened awareness of your mind and body, you will notice what your mind is bringing to each run. If you are holding yourself back for any reason, you will begin to realize it and overcome it. Sometimes we criticize ourselves and hold ourselves back without being aware of it. 
  • Meditation helps you learn how to relax and release tension from your body. Holding tension in your body while running wastes a lot of energy. When you know how to release tension, you can use all your energy and run better.
  • As mentioned in the video above, meditation increases the variability of the 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 you run faster. If you are no longer creating negative experiences with your mind, you will have more positive runs. And more positive running usually results in faster running!
  • Meditation also boosts the immune system so you 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 all 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.

You will be less afraid of pain and know how to deal with it when it arises. You 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 your first year's subscription is 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 this app, but it is highly recommended for beginners, especially skeptics. If this sounds like you, maybe Ten Percent Happier 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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