Mindfulness in Running: 5 Tips for Being Mindful

Coach Casey · January 7, 2021

Running, one of the most popular activities in the world, is often done in solitude. There are immense benefits to occasionally allowing yourself to be alone with your thoughts as you physically exert yourself. However, over time, more and more research has been done on the positive effects of “mindfulness” especially when paired with physical activity. Being mindful is defined by being acutely aware of how you’re feeling mentally and physically and being tuned in to your thoughts and emotions. While allowing for a “wandering mind” while running has traditionally been viewed as harmless, studies have begun to show links between mind-wandering, an utter lack of mindfulness, and negative thoughts and emotions that can be especially destructive while your body is enduring physical stress. 

Not convinced with the negative mental and emotional side of not being mindful while running? How about the negative physical effects? Allowing your mind to wander often gives it the opportunity to latch on to stressful, anxious, and negative thoughts. Obsessing over these thoughts (your upcoming work project, finances, your lumpy mattress) directly affects your physical performance. Your heart rate quickens as you become wound up. Your muscles tighten in stressful anticipation. All of these physical responses limit the fluidity of your running mechanics and increase your perceived effort astronomically, affecting your run or workout negatively.

Charge Running is here to help as always! Not only do our live, professionally-coached runs and workouts keep your mind focused and occupied, but we’ve got 5 quick and easy tips to practice and master mindfulness while running!

5 Tips for Mindfulness in Running

Find mindfulness in running with these 5 tips!

1. “Cool Down” Before Warming Up

Runners are busy people. Oftentimes fitting in a run or training session during the day means hustling straight to or from work to the gym or to the road. There’s limited time to fully transition from the mental context of work and responsibilities to that of running. That’s where the pre-warm up cool down comes in. Confused yet? This is actually quite simple. Cool your mind and emotions down before you start your physical warm up. Take 3-5 minutes before getting into your run to assume a formal breathing position (standing tall, back against a wall or lying down on the ground), close your eyes, and focus on a steady, tracked set of breaths. Inhale through the nose and mouth deeply and slowly 20 times, shake it out and do it again. Get to that full sense of calm and you’ll be ready for your warm up.

2. Get Rid of Your “Real World” Anchors

Nowadays technology rarely allows us an escape from all of the “real world” problems we experience or have to deal with. Emails, phone calls, and text messages can seemingly reach us anywhere. Separating oneself from those anchors in order to maximize focus on mindfulness can be hard. It’s best to cut all ties…for the duration of your run that is. Leave your GPS watch at home along with your phone (or for safety keep it on silent in your pocket/running belt). No music or podcasts. No problems. Disconnecting for even just 30 minutes will allow you to be fully aware of your movements, breathing, emotions, and your mindfulness. 

3. Focus on the Fundamentals (Breathing and Posture/Eye Line)

There is plenty of time when running and training to nit pick about every mechanical movement in order to maximize your running efficiency or economy. When trying to practice mindfulness in running though, you should limit your focus to just two things: breathing and posture/eye line. Breathing seems obvious, especially in the context of mindfulness. Focus on a relaxed breathing pattern that is not solely mouth breathing, which is a stress response. Find a melody or rhythm to your breathing that you can easily hear, feel, and adjust throughout your run. Posture and eye line is also important. You want to maintain the tall, stacked posture that’s key to running (shoulder over hips, hips over ankles). Also aim to keep, what Charles Oxley a mindfulness and performance coach for ASICS refers to as, a “soft and wide” gaze. Don’t be laser focused on just one spot ahead of you but ease your gaze towards your peripheries. These steps will keep you in an all-important “chillaxed” mode mile after mile.

4. Flush Out Your Mind Post-Run

Short and sweet here. 

Don’t just use the breathing exercises and tactics mentioned in the above “Cool Down” Before Warming Up section before your run. Use them afterwards as well. After transitioning out of your run and before fully engaging in your post-run recovery routine, continue your mindful state with some relaxing and engaged breathing exercises.

5. Positive, Engaging Mantras

Mantras have been an element of distance running and athletics generally for a long time. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you use them. Choosing an easily repeatable, meaningful, and rhythmic phrase to repeat in your head as you run can be a great addition to your practiced mindfulness in running. The mantra should inspire/empower you while also providing a sense of calm and focus to your running. Nothing too long. Something uniquely YOU. You shouldn’t feel the need to repeat your mantra constantly throughout a run, but it can serve as your “mindfulness reset button” when you feel any stress, anxiety, or negativity seeping in. If you want to know what mine is…all you have to do in join one of my live Charge classes and ask!

Continue to practice mindful running while getting engaged, professional, real-time coaching with Charge Running. Sign up today to access our 100+ live runs/workouts per week and our massive On Demand library!

Comments 0

Download Charge Running today!

Access unlimited LIVE and on-demand classes for just $20 a month when you subscribe annually! Includes a 7-day free trial.