How mindfulness can make running relaxing and easy

Running can be relaxing and easy.
But it comes from the mind not the legs.

StrongHealthyRunI absolutely love running. I love the freedom, me time, fitness, sense of calm and achievement it brings.

I do find it interesting that I can run the same course twice, a few days apart, and one day feels enjoyable, easy and fun, whilst the other day feels tough and I can’t wait for it to be over. Have you ever experienced this with running or another exercise?

So what’s the difference? The hills haven’t grown and your fitness hasn’t really changed in the few days…. which means the cause is your mindset.

Have you ever been in a group training session thinking “this is it, I need a rest, I am at my limit” then the trainer says “come on, 5 more reps or 30 more seconds” and somehow you find it in you to see it through? Yep, mindset again.

Here are a few tips to transform your mindset when running, and make it a more enjoyable experience.

Before you run
While you are getting ready, notice what is happening in your mind. Are you feeling energetic, tired, confident or anxious? No judgements, just tune in. This will help determine what you need while you are running.
When you are ready to head out the door, stand still and take a few deep breaths to help you focus.

Get started
Focus on what is happening around you – what can you see, smell, hear? This will help you become more present (and focusing on your environment means you will be less likely to make assumptions about your run – that it will be hard/easy, fast/slow, fun/boring)

Find your rhythm
I tend to follow two cycles while I run. The first is to mentally run through my body, head to toe, check in on my technique and correct as needed.
Usually “stand tall, relax your face, draw in your shoulder blades, tilt your hips, lean forward”.
(NB I am not a personal trainer – this is what works for me and everyone will have a different technique!)

I alternate this cycle with focusing on gratitude – the sun shining, the smell of the freshly mown grass, the sound of the birds, smiling at other runners as we pass.

A few positive mind swaps

Replace “This is really hard, I can’t do it” with “I am healthy, strong and fit”

Replace “My shoulder/calf/hip hurts” with a few deep breaths into that area and “As I breathe, this muscle relaxes”

Replace “I can’t wait for this to be over” with “I love the act of running because xyz”

Replace “I have to run to become slim and sexy” with “I love my body and enjoy making it stronger and healthier today”

After you run
Always thank yourself for getting out of bed and making time to invest in your health. You can do this while you stretch and take some big calming breaths.

Overall, the key is to be focused on the present, calm, positive and tuned in to what you are telling yourself.

Remembering that this year is all about nurturing yourself to peak performance rather than pushing yourself – if you have a genuine injury, or haven’t had much sleep the night before then be kind – maybe a walk is what you need today (and walking is also a fantastic way to put the above tips into practice and really become present).

Happy running!

With Gratitude x