Mindfulness: Runners Know It

I’ve been hearing about mindfulness a lot lately. People discuss the importance of mindfulness at work, while driving, eating, and exercising. It is advised to take time out of each day to practice mindfulness.

So what exactly is mindfulness? Essentially, it’s being present in the moment and aware. It is the acceptance of thoughts, feelings, and self. It is allowing yourself thoughts without judgment of what those thoughts are.

With all this hype regarding the importance of mindfulness, I can’t help but think:

Runners have been practicing mindfulness for as long as they have been running.

The reason half of us get out and run everyday is to center our thoughts and feelings – becoming fully aware of ourselves and allowing judgment to disappear.

I recently read the book, Run for Your Life: Mindful Running for a Happy Life by William Pullen. This book provided some mindfulness exercises for those who prefer a more structured approach to it. Personally, I’m perfectly happy with the free flow of thoughts that occur when running. However, sometimes it can be helpful to have a little more focus.

Here are three simple ways to incorporate more mindfulness into your daily runs:


Grounding helps get you to your baseline. It’s a scan of physical self, emotions, and environment. Take a moment before your run to focus on your body and surroundings in the here and now. Notice the temperature, the way your feet feel against the earth, and your current mood. Don’t judge or examine the mood you are in, just notice it for what it is.

Choose a Mantra

If you speak to 100 runners, my guess is that 97 of them have a mantra for when things get hard. Pick a mantra that fits you and focus on it while you are running. Some people like to develop a rhythm for their mantra, alternating words with their footsteps. For example, “This” (left foot) “feels” (right foot) “great” (left foot). Meditate on your words and acknowledge how they make you feel.

Move with Intention

Runners get out everyday and run for reasons individualized to themselves. Some people run for fitness, some run for quiet time, others run for therapeutic reasons. What is your reason for running? Focus on that and allow yourself to feel gratitude that you get to run today. One of my favorite podcasts has a mantra, “don’t treat a gift like a burden.” Being able to run is a gift. Don’t waste that gift by wishing the weather was different, scolding yourself for not being on pace, or worrying about all the tasks you should be doing instead of running.

The important thing to remember with mindfulness is that you should be paying attention to your thoughts and feelings without judgment. You may be feeling mad at your coworker or upset with your spouse for something. It’s ok. Just notice that feeling and let it be. There is no right way to practice mindfulness. Do what you feel comfortable with and always remember to be grateful for the run.


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