Life Tip: Mindful Running

  • Published
  • By Capt. Jessica-Lynn Stanley, Licensed Clinical Social Worker
  • 37th Training Wing

Often physical fitness and mental fitness are looked at as two different entities.   By giving focus to your breath and reducing the rate, it will decrease your heart rate.  This in turn will make you feel more calm and in control.  However by combining this mindfulness technique and running, you can take your physical abilities and mental resilience to the next level.  With mindful running you are able to push aside your internal and external distractions to become more connected with yourself. By connecting with your physical and emotional responses, you will increase performance and find yourself running further than you could imagine. 

How does one practice mindful running?  Well first plan your run.  If you plan to do this on treadmill, cover the screen with a towel to remove the distractions.  If you plan to run outside, plan your route out beforehand so it is one less thing to occupy your mind.  This next step is the hardest for most – leave your headphones at home.  It is easier to connect with your surroundings and thoughts without the distraction of music. 

The warm-up is often a dismissed part of a workout.  For mindful running, the warm-up can be used to bring yourself out of a state of stress.  During the warm-up focus on using your diaphragm using the technique known as tactical breathing.  This is done by taking a long breath in through your nose, holding for a few seconds and then releasing the breath out through your mouth.  While you are breathing, set the intentions for your run.  Your intention allows you to have a non-judgmental goal during the run. This can be your breath, running slow and steady, or focusing on your form. 

After you complete your warm-up start your run.  As you run be aware of your breath, continuing to use diaphragmatic breathing.  Then progress to how your body feels while running without judgment.  Then focus to sights, smells, and sounds you get to experience during this run.  If you start to get overwhelmed, or your mind starts to drift then bring your intentions you set before to the forefront of your mind.  Other thoughts may creep in, and if they do, gently push them to the side refocusing on your original intentions. 

As your run comes to a close then use the cool down as a way to assist in the transition out of your run.   Use the same guidelines used in the warm-up for the cool down.  Focus on what you learned from the run and what went well.  Mindful running, much like any skill, takes practice so it is important to be patient with yourself. Life is not always about winning.  Learn from what didn’t go well and use it as a stepping stone for your next run.


See you on the road.