Running is a common activity that has been around for most of human existence and for good reason. Many people have found benefits for running throughout it's long life. In fact in 776 BC, the first event of the first ever Olympic games in Greece was a foot race. However, we're not going to talk about that because that's ancient history and be honest, you fell asleep in history class. Yeah, but don't feel ashamed I couldn't even name someone who didn't fall asleep in my history class. That being said, I'll just assume you're not interested in the history of running, although you may want to know how running can benefit you.
Running may provide us with a temporary freedom from our problems. There are some issues that weigh in on the brain so much that when we think about physical activity we tend to let out a big sigh and silently say to ourselves "Ugh, what's the point?" Well, can we blame ourselves? There's not much a person will do without a certain degree of interest, and when we have so much going on it's hard to see the significance that something might have. However, sometimes we are blinded to the capacity an experience as a whole will give us. We fall victim to this because of our tendencies to break everything down in parts. We linger on the hard, uncomfortable, or uninteresting parts, and misjudge the upside of getting through them. Other times we just simply don't know enough about the experience to judge whether it will give us the right amount of pleasure that we seek.
With so much debate in between I reiterate the question "Can we blame ourselves?" Maybe not, but it wouldn't hurt to know a little bit more about the experience. It is always encouraged to decide if something is right for you from a position of knowledge.
You may be aware of the physical benefits of running, but how familiar are you with the psychological benefits?
- Going out for a run does much more than benefit you physically. Running can improve your self esteem, confidence, and goal setting ability. The action of determining how far you want to run, working up the courage to get started, and completing your mission can do huge wonders for your mental stability.
- Endorphins, your "feel good" hormones are released while you run and can lead to a phenomenon some people like to refer to as the "runner's high." This flood of endorphins has the capacity to relieve stress and anxiety, boost the immune system, and make you look and feel younger!
Okay that's all well and good, but let's say you decide to go out for a run. How can you get the most out of your experience? Well, there are an emerging group of people who incorporate mindful meditation when they run. This involves synchronizing your breath with your movements and remaining tuned out from your thoughts and tuned in to the experience of the run.
Advocators of mindful running consider the benefits to reach anywhere from faster recovery and having a more interesting/fun time running, to purging negative thoughts and emotions and replacing that awareness with positive more favorable feelings.
Here are a couple keys to engaging in a mindful run:
- Syncronize your breath
Breathe oxygen rich air through your nose emphasizing deep controlled breaths while engaging the diaphragm. Connect your breath with your movements by putting together a pattern of steps and incorporating your breath in that sequence.
- Focus on your stride
Listening to our bodies while we run shows us that we can learn how to run better if we pay close enough attention. Bring your awareness towards your footsteps making sure to keep your steps as silent as you can. Bear in mind that our body wants to avoid causing deep impact to our joints and encourages us to be light on our feet.
Run a way from your problems and run towards good health!
Thanks for reading!