Running has long been proven to be one of the healthiest exercises you can do. Yet, many people struggle with running long distances or on a consistent basis, simply because they have trouble overcoming the challenges, according to running coach Stewart Skloss.
Running can be tough, but there are ways you can power through mental blocks to achieve your goals. By practicing mindfulness in running, you can unlock the full potential of both your body and mind.
Here are some ways you can master the art of mindful running for enhanced performance.
Focus Your Breathing
People today lead busy and stressful lives. Many times, when they begin a run, they’re doing so while they’re experiencing stress, or right after or before a pressure-packed day at work.
This means you’re likely already stressed out before you even start running, which can lead to a stressed state while you’re exercising.
“It’s very important to ensure that your body isn’t in a stressed state when you work out,” Stewart Skloss says. “So, find ways to ‘de-stress’ before you start running.”
One of the most effective ways to do that is to focus on your breathing. Get your body in a good breathing position, and focus on breathing in and breathing out. Recognize the breath filling up your lungs when you inhale and being pushed out when you exhale.
Even a few minutes of this meditative-like practice will help to relieve stress before you start running.
As you’re running, you want to make sure that you’re staying present in the moment. Don’t let your mind wander to the stresses you faced earlier in the day or the things you have to worry about after you’re done running.
Instead, keep coming back to the present matters at hand.
The most important thing, again, is focusing on your breathing. If you’re taking good breaths in and out through your nose consistently — not too fast and not too slow — your body will be able to perform better while running.
Then, gaze your eyes on your periphery and remain relaxed. Don’t focus too intently on any one thing ahead of you or around you, and you’ll be able to stay in a calmer place.
Engage Your Senses
Many of us will instantly go to our earbuds to listen to music or a podcast while we’re running. But, Stewart Skloss says that can actually contribute to stress and anxiety rather than calming us.
One of the hallmarks of mindfulness is taking notice of your surroundings. To do this, you must engage all of your senses, which includes your hearing. If you’re buried in your earbuds, it will be difficult for you to remain present where you are.
Instead, recognize all the sounds you are hearing while you run. This includes the noise of treadmills around you if you’re in a gym, the sounds of nature if you’re running outside, and even your own breathing.
It’s important to engage your other senses, too, including what you see, what you feel, what you smell, and even what you taste. Doing this will help you remain mindful while you run, which will lead to enhanced performance.
About Stewart Skloss
Stewart Skloss, a passionate physical trainer from Austin who specializes in running, empowers clients to achieve their fitness goals and reach new heights. Though long retired from racing, Skloss uses his expertise to benefit top contenders in various endurance events. Stewart’s welcoming coaching style and dedication to his clients have earned him widespread admiration in the fitness community. Join him for a free run and experience his inspiring guidance firsthand.