Tuesday, June 20, 2017

5 Reasons and 6 Tips to be More Mindful on the Run

I often comment that I look at my running as a moving meditation. There are times when I'm in "the zone" and am completely focused on my run, oblivious to everything around me. While those runs are some of my best runs, for a myriad of reasons, not being aware is probably really bad for me.

Being mindful has become a cliché. That's too bad because being mindful is really important in everything you do. So many times off the road, we are being asked to pay attention to more than one thing. I might be working on the computer and my husband tells me something, but I'm only half listening to what he's saying. It happens to me at work too, where I have found myself writing a prescription while the patient is telling me a story. Do I listen to the patient or finish the prescription, and risk making a mistake?

Staying focused on the task at hand, being mindful--it's something we all need to do more of, both in real life and on the road.



This past Sunday, I was running on the path, enjoying the day, when I felt the breeze of a cyclist zipping by. He didn't call out to me and I wasn't paying attention to my surroundings. What if I had stepped onto the other side of the path? There is an inherent danger when we are not fully focused on our run and our surroundings. This near miss made me think about what could go wrong when we "zone out":

~You could get hurt. Those sidewalk cracks find a way of jumping up and tripping us, don't they? Or you could run in front of a bike or even a car. Don't assume they're going to see you and stop. Everyone is distracted these days.


~Your form could slip. Focusing on your form, maintaining an upright, erect posture, can help prevent injury.

~You're not getting the most out of your run. If you're training for a race, you're running but you're not paying attention to the task at hand. We, runners, are probably most at risk for losing focus when we're on our long, slow training runs. Running 12, 14, 18, 20 miles can get pretty boring.

~You could get lost. Have you ever snapped to attention during a run and wondered where you were?

~You might miss out on interesting things! Mrs Kravitz likes to stay alert for neighborhood happenings. Was there a party I wasn't invited to? Check out the recycling bins. There's always a lot to take in on the run.

There's nothing wrong with getting into the zone at times. We all need those runs. But if we're always zoning out, always "meditating", are we getting the most out of our runs?

Here are some suggestions on how to stay focused on the run:

~Run intervals. Even though my Garmin tells me when it's time to run or walk, the run/walk intervals I've been doing force me to pay attention. I can't zone out too much when I'm waiting for my prompt--it's like an electric shock to my wrist. Speedwork intervals are very similar to this too.

~Pay attention to your pacing. Runners do a great job of this when training for a race. We've got long runs, tempo runs, and speedwork intervals, with specific paces we need to hit.

~Use a metronome app or a playlist set to a certain cadence and try to match your stride to the beats.


~Check in with your body periodically. Scan your body from head to toe to see how you are feeling. Stay positive.

~Look for mileposts on the run. Count stop signs. Count telephone poles. Count something.

~Run with a buddy. Having someone to keep you accountable will help you both stay on track. Although there is the risk that you may get so involved in what you're talking about that you lose focus.

Do you practice mindfulness on the run? Or do you find your mind wandering? How do you stay focused?

I'm linking this post with Tuesdays on the Run aka Marcia, Erika, and Patti as well as Coaches' Corner aka Debbie, Susie, Rachel, and Lora.





52 comments :

  1. I run intervals now, so I'm usually ready for the notification. When I used to do long runs on the trail, my mind would wander sometimes. When I refocused I'd be a little freaked out because what if some sinister person had been there? I would not have been ready. It was scary.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That happens to me a lot! I've also found myself not paying attention to my surroundings on short runs. The intervals do help with that. I just need to focus.

      Delete
  2. I'm a huge fan of the intervals...and they also keep you from getting bored! Unfortunately, my intervals have been walk/jog lately rather than sprint/walk or sprint/jog :(

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Whatever gets you moving is all good!

      Delete
  3. I rarely completely zone out on my runs, because I rarely run alone (Almost all of my long runs are done with my BRF, and since it's summer, we have the opportunity to do most of our mid-week runs together, too). If I'm on the treadmill at the gym, I am looking around, scanning the TVs to see what's on, waving to friends, etc. It would probably be better for me if I DID focus more on my task, but I have found that when I focus too much, running becomes a chore ("have to") instead of fun ("get to")! By the way, I always do run intervals--they are my favorite! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What's kind of scary to me is that I'm zoning out, even with my run/walk intervals!

      Delete
  4. I am usually guilty of letting the mind wander and thinking of all sorts of random solutions to my life problems- lol!
    Great post to reign it in though. Hope you have been well!!! xoxo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Are you home? I'm heading over to your blog for an update!!!

      Delete
  5. The gifs on this post made me LOL! Although I run with music, I keep the volume very low so that I'm always aware of other runners, walkers and cyclists. I've seen a few people has mishaps during races because they just weren't paying attention.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Maybe that's the problem--I don't keep my music low. My hearing is going and I'm totally jamming. Such a bad combination.

      Delete
  6. Good points. I miss zoning out while running! I haven't been able to lately because something is constantly hollering at me--usually my bladder. I'm squeezing my pelvic floor with each step, dying to get to the next set of bushes.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is sure one way to stay mindful!

      Delete
  7. For the most part, I stay pretty focused on my runs. The longer ones I guess I do zone out for bits here and there, but I'm usually on roads and need to stay pretty focused and aware of my surroundings. I do need to pay a little more attention to my form, though. That is definitely where I get sloppy!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't know what's happening with me but I'm getting really sloppy!

      Delete
  8. I do definitely like to do a body scan occasionally. I've been known to count animals, but that's not really a mindfulness thing, it's a distract myself from a bad run or heat thing. Thankfully I haven't had to do it much lately.

    One of the reasons I love to run, though, is that generally I'm always thinking . . . while I often think on the run, too, I can zone out easier on the run. I don't listen to music, though, so that I can stay fairly aware of my surroundings.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I do listen to music and that might be why I'm zoning out! There's nothing better than losing myself in the music.

      Delete
  9. I really like this post because it rings so true for me. I used to zone out on every run. Since becoming uber conscious of my form, though, I've really started being present during each and every run. I want to make sure I'm keeping my body uninjured!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have to get back to that. Right now I'm zoning...

      Delete
  10. I've been doing way more cycling than running lately and it is SUPER important to focus while doing that. I'm so scared that a distracted driver,(texting) will hit me!! I try to ride mainly in neighborhoods but sometimes there is no avoiding busy main roads. Good ideas and reminders for us all.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree 100%! People driving are nuts. No one is paying attention, they're ignoring stop signs...it's bad.

      Delete
  11. It takes me a little while to zone out while running, so during the 3 milers Ive been doing lately it hasnt been happening. i think thats good and bad- it does keep me focused on my form, but I miss the feeling of totally just relaxing while I run. These are great strategies for staying focused while running!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm pretty good after a mile. I have to work on staying more mindful!

      Delete
  12. Oh my gosh I am the worst about this - especially on long runs. My mind just zones out.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Me too--but more so lately than ever! Yikes!

      Delete
  13. I am not very mindful at all! I really should pay more attention to my surroundings

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've had a few close calls lately, so this was my reminder to myself.

      Delete
  14. I'm usually doing a specific workout so I HAVE to pay close attention to what I'm doing. As far as cars go...I come to a complete stop (on the ride and run) unless I get a wave or eye contact. I take zero chances because drivers (including me) are so distracted!! Stay safe out there... and that first animated gif is hilarious :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hate stopping but I know I need to. I've had too many close calls.

      Delete
  15. Love it! Mindfulness is where it is at! I do zone out sometimes or start thinking about my next blog post etc. I use the run keeper app which I program my run into it and set my cues- it talks to me every 1/4 mile so it helps me stay focused :-)

    ReplyDelete
  16. I definitely have to watch those sidewalk cracks! Or rocks. Or just about any bump in the road that I'm likely to trip over! Staying aware is also important for our general safety. I need to work on being more mindful. Lately I've felt like I'm just slogging along when I run and I know doing some of these things will help.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Some of us just trip over our own 2 feet...

      Delete
  17. Working on form is a great way to stay mindful because you have to think about every single step!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Usually a tug in my hip reminds me to pay attention! It's amazing what that will do for you.

      Delete
  18. to tell you the truth - I love to mindlessly run sometimes. Especially when I'm not training for anything. Now, post-marathon - I've felt my stress level plummet - yeah! Looking forward to running with no goal. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I won't lie, it is a pleasure! But definitely more dangerous than running mindfully!

      Delete
  19. I love that feeling of being able to zone out and get lost in a run! But it doesn't happen that often. Pretty much only when I'm running on a paved trail so no traffic because otherwise, I definitely have to be more alert.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I haven't been paying attention when I should--but I've had some reminders that I need to! And a blog post was born...

      Delete
  20. I don't think I zone out at all. I look to take pictures while I run. The best solution is if you can get a friend. It helps me run better.

    Yesterday when I was running, I fell but if I weren't paying attention, I would have gotten bitten by a nasty dog. and BTW, the dog owner just kept walking while others stopped to see if I was hurt.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I need to start running with Steph again--once I drop these damn run/walk intervals...

      Delete
  21. It's been awhile since I've had a mindless run...usually because I'm seldom ever alone in my own thoughts. I do know I need to take this "temporary off-season-recovery-interlude" and regroup...there are probably some form things that I have let slide and now is the perfect time to reassess everything.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's definitely a benefit of time off--you get to regroup and reevaluate.

      Delete
  22. Hmm. Part of my mind is always wandering, while the other stays pretty focused. That hasn't kept me from tripping a few times, but I do tend to stay pretty alert. I think it's just second nature to me from growing up in a city - I'm very careful about being aware of my surroundings for safety's sake.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've really been absent minded, which has been kind of troubling to me!

      Delete
  23. I've been know to zone out on the run... especially during those long ones. I do try to bring it in my focusing on my form when I realize I'm on auto pilot.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Usually my body will give me a nudge on those long runs.

      Delete
  24. I count a lot on my runs, but I think that's partially what makes me zone out. lol.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Lol I think sometimes I'm too focused on what's going on around me - I could use some help zoning out better! That said, when I do run with a friend, I've realized I need to be extra mindful of my pace and distance because I tend to overdo it when I'm distracted by conversation!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like to run alone because it allows me to run at my own pace and I can concentrate on just that. Unfortunately, I've been all over the place these days!

      Delete
  26. Those gifs, though...hahah amazing!!!!

    ReplyDelete