Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Meditating while Running

Recently on most of my morning runs even though I feel half asleep, my brain is usually going non stop.  It can be annoying at times - I spend most of the run worrying about work or other things instead of just enjoying the run.

In the last couple of weeks of February it had become so bad that I knew I needed to find a way to turn off my brain while running.  I needed to find a way to refocus on the run and forget about all my worries.

I began to do a little research about mediation and meditation while running.  After doing some reading, it seemed like an easy thing to do.  For so long I had seen meditation as a religious thing but instead I suddenly saw it as a way to relax.

And I needed a way to relax.

I found that it was easy to start, I just need something to focus on while running.

I decided to try to remember to focus on my breathing.  That seemed like an easy way to start - it wasn't complicated and it was something I always did, especially while running.  I feel that so many runners use music to block out their breathing when they run when in fact it can be one of the greatest training partners that we have.

So I started to focus on my breathing while running in the morning.  Usually I would give myself the first mile to get into the run and warm up.  Once I was warmed up I noticed that my mind would start to wander and I would begin to worry about work or what I needed to do that day.  When I noticed this happening I would simply refocused by telling myself to pay attention (listen) to my breathing instead of thinking. I focused on each time I breathed in and out, sometimes I counted my breaths, and each time I refocused I forgot what I was worrying about and remembered to focus on the run.

This simple reminder to refocus was all I needed.  Eventually every time I realized I was worrying, my mind began to just think about my breathing.  Over the course of a few weeks it suddenly became instinct and slowly my morning runs were not filled with my mind spinning in worry, but instead of just enjoying the run.

On most of my runs, I have to refocus a lot. And by a lot, I mean at least 25-30 times for a 6 mile run.  Because running is my MAIN stress reliever and when I run my mind goes to things that I am dealing with.  I would often play out sequences of how I would confront a co-worker I was having a hard time with or I would replay a moment from my day and think about what I would have said if I had thought quicker.  The inner dialogue that I would have while running became out of control.  Bringing the focus back to breathing and running reminded me that there really is nothing I can do about my worries (or the past) while I am running and I finally was able to bring myself back to the reason that I run for stress relief.  I run to escape the worry - to have 30 minutes to an hour to be away from all the things in my life that are STRESSING me out! 

I encourage you to try this.  Call it meditating or just call it bringing the focus back to running and the purpose.  Life is stressful, running isn't supposed to be!

A few links where I did my research -
How to meditate while running
Runners World - meditating


Christy @ My Dirt Road Anthem: A Runner's Blog said...

Great links. I haven't tried meditating while running, I tend to put on a podcast or audiobook and get lost in it or sometimes my mind just wanders. Unless I am doing intervals where I have to stay focused.

Lauren @ Sassy Molassy said...

That's great that you've gotten it to work well for you. I find that a lot of my runs I am able to just enjoy the run. However, the ones that are right after work can be a little harder. But for me, my running time is so precious. It's my church, therapy, me time and exercise all rolled into one.

Running Librarian said...

I find that I don't really think about much when I run.. except how much farther to run... said...

What a great post! I'm also a worrier and don't know how to stop it. I heard often about the breathing, but I feel a little silly and also it feels forced. Your post motivated me to try again!

Art @ Fit at Fifty said...

Recently I have been doing more running outside without any headphones or music. Just relaxing and clearing my mind.

Robin said...

This is a great post. This has been happening to me a lot lately and I haven't been able to shut my brain off while running. I'm going to try it...thanks.

Jon (was) in Michigan said...

You just described my exact problem while running. Worrying about work and rehashing past (or imaginary) conversations over and over in my head.

Thanks for posting the links and giving some specific advice for clearing your head. I will definitely be doing it tomorrow morning.

kilax said...

Love this post! My midday runs are like this. Once I start my day, if I go for a run, it's all stress. But my early morning runs, before my brain wakes up, are less inclined to be this way. And that is what I prefer. So I need to practice this on my later in the day runs!

Suz and Allan said...

I love to focus on my breathing and my form and enjoy the scenery while I run. Glad you have enjoyed meditating while running!

Nicole Orriëns said...

This post came just at the right time for me. I've been neglecting to get in touch with myself during my runs, because my thoughts run away from me…

Meditating can really help.