Meditation, and in particular mindful meditation, has been the word on everyone’s lips lately, but despite popular belief you don’t need to be completely still to meditate. In fact, running and mediation have been in practice simultaneously for centuries, from the marathon monks of Japan to the Incan messengers of Machu Picchu. But how do these ancient practices relate and can they help us to perform better?
Here I reveal three easy techniques to incorporate meditation into your routine. They don’t require any type of equipment and take very little time, making them the perfect remedy to help you declutter a busy mind and increase your physical and mental performance. It’s also important to remember that these principles aren’t just restricted to running, but can be incorporated into any type of physical activity you may do.
Your breathing is one of the most important components of both meditating and running. If you are able to establish a rhythmical slow pattern of breathing you can offset stress and increase your movement efficiency. We often use ‘breathe’ as a cue for our clients while performing an exercise as this helps improve focus and performance.
During most runs the first ten minutes always seem the hardest part. By focusing on how your body feels and your technique, your run will become less painful and more efficient. You want to feel light and bouncy on your feet, not feel or sound like an elephant stomping down the street. You should also feel like a piece of string is attached to the top of your head pulling you to the sky so your body feels lengthened. We often ask clients how a certain exercise feels or where they feel the exercise working, in order to establish a better brain/body connection.
Running can be tough but having a key phrase or mantra can help you overcome just about any obstacle. Using a positive cue can often be enough to give you the strength to continue and try a little harder. For example, thinking to yourself ‘look up’ can help you become more aware and grateful of your surroundings. One of my clients uses the mantra ‘light weight’, which he says to himself before lifting a heavy weight.