Mindful Running - A bit "New Age?"
I guess you would have to be blind or deaf not to have heard of mindfulness. On the other hand, it is quite likely that you don't really know what it is.
Most people imagine mindfulness is all about sitting cross-legged with your eyes shut; this could not be further from the reality.
You may imagine it is some form of meditation or you may have heard about it in connection with therapy; Mindful Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (MBGT) or Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). If you have then you are right it is all of these and more.
The best definition I have come across was developed by a group of psychologists:
"Mindfulness is the self-regulation of attention with an orientation of curiosity, openness and acceptance"
Unpacking that a little; paying close attention to what you are doing, being curious about what is going on at all levels, observing it and accepting it whatever it is; not making judgements about it in the sense of thinking it is good or bad but being able to respond in an appropriate manner.
What's that got to do with running?
Have you ever arrived at the start of a training session with your mind buzzing with the work-related problems? How about turning up at the start of a race worried by the fact that your last two training sessions were below parr. Have you ever realised that for the last kilometre you've been thinking about the hill near the end of the race?
Of course, what you need to do is focus on what you are doing at the moment; not the past or the future. Your technique, your breathing, your posture, passing the guy in front, keeping ahead of the one creeping up behind, your tactics for this bit of the race.
Most of us will have had experience of driving home and arriving and realising we can't really remember the journey.
Basically, we've lost focus. And when that happens during training we perform at less than our best.
Learning to be mindful helps us to maintain our focus, but more than that once you really get the hang of it, it helps you through the difficult parts; when your body starts to scream at you, when you hit "the wall", when the training isn't going the way you want it to. But it will also help you to differentiate between the pain in the "mind" and the niggle in the hamstring that tells you to back off.
Aside from helping your athletic performance, it offers huge benefits in everyday life:
- Helps to de-stress in the work place
- Improves the quality of sleep
- Helps to deal with cravings: food, alcohol, tobacco, recreational drugs
- Improves relationships
- Upregulates the immune system
To name but a few!
We can't run a mindfulness course here but we thoroughly recommend the article below. It was written by Pete Willette.
And published by A Lust For Life