Practical Mindfulness for runners

There is a lot of evidence that practicing Mindfulness improves the effect of a workout. Being mindful will also help you maintain a quiet and rational mind when things start getting tough. Not only will you be thinking clearly and NOT panicking but it will ensure your heart rate and stress hormone levels stay low. That translates into running faster for longer with less damage to your body.

Know the (WHY, HOW, FEEDBACK) keys of the workout

Understand the purpose of the workout(WHY), exactly how it should be done(HOW) and how to measure if you are doing it right(FEEDBACK).

Before you start the training session remind yourself of the three keys. During your preparation and warmup visualize the HOW and the FEEDBACK. Stay focused on these during the training session. Once the training session is underway you will spend more time on the FEEDBACK checking to see if the workout is having the desired effect.

Let’s use some examples

100 m Hill Sprint Repeats x 20

WHY do you do them – to build power, improve running mechanics, boost your muscles cells capacity to create energy.

HOW do you do them – run with big powerful strides as if you were running on a flat track

FEEDBACK – feedback from short intervals can only go on RPE, how hard does it feel a simple measure is that your legs should be tiring in the last 5 – 10 m

The mindful key to this workout is to only focus on the present moment. For instance, your program says 20 reps , don’t hold back in the first few because you are worried about completing all the reps. Only focus on the how and feedback of THIS rep. The end of the workout should almost come as a surprise to you. During your recovery mentally run through how that felt and visualize how you want to do the next one.

6 Minute Cruise Intervals with a 3 min recovery

WHY – to build power endurance and your ability to keep pushing even at your lactic threshold.

HOW – these should be run on the edge of uncomfortably fast. Depending on the workout these will be at a prescribed pace, HR or RPE. Focus on running with good form. During recovery relax and run Easy

FEEDBACK – GPS/HR monitor will keep you informed of pace and HR. RPE can be judged from your breathing. If you are at the right pace it will be to a 2 in 2 out rhythm. Some indicators that you are going too fast – burning leg muscles, a coppery taste in the mouth, tickle at the back of your throat. If you experience any of these then you are going to fast. Back off a little till the symptoms disappear.

The mindful key once again is to only focus on the present moment. For instance, your program says 4 reps , don’t hold back in the first few because you are worried about completing all the reps. Only focus on the how and feedback of THIS rep. The end of the workout should almost come as a surprise to you. During your recovery mentally run through how that felt and visualize how you want to do the next one.

General Running

Two of the simplest things to focus on when running to ensure that you are staying present are breathe and form.

If you are running up a long hill, don’t get obsessed with how far away the top is or how steep the hill is. Set your gaze 6 – 10 m ahead of you, focus on your breath, running form and how your body is feeling.  Don’t anticipate the slope, don’t run faster as you approach the top. If you remain present you will find an optimal pace to run the hill and the top will come as a pleasant surprise.

Staying mindful will keep you relaxed and thinking rationally throughout your run. This in turn will help you get the best possible result from your run whether it’s a race or training run.

Run the course, don’t let the course run you.

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