If you already view your daily run as a mini-therapy session, then adding meditation can be yet another way to improve your workout and your mood. Running burns calories, builds bone strength, and reduces anxiety, while meditating decreases stress and makes exercise more effective. Our experts share four reasons to meditate before running, so you can hit the the pavement with a clear mind, a positive attitude, and a renewed commitment to fitness.
Meditation may improve performance.
There’s a reason why professional athletes rely on sports psychologists to help improve their game, says Beth Brombosz, a registered yoga teacher and certified running coach. Running, as a sport, requires physical and mental strength. Meditation can help runners with endurance, concentration and the general stress management that comes with tough workouts. For instance, research shows meditation might serve as a helpful coping mechanism for aches and pains. It may even strengthen parts of the brain—two things that can aid any runner.
It can help clear your mind of negative thoughts.
According to Aaptiv Trainer Jaime McFaden, the best way to clear your mind, release tension, and let go of any thoughts distracting you from your workout is to meditate before running. It makes sense. Running is already well-known for its mood-boosting capabilities. It has been shown to decrease symptoms of depression and anxiety overall. Combining meditation and running—or meditating alongside activities such as yoga or walking workouts—allows you to focus on staying positive.
“Through meditation, we learn to let go of thoughts that bother us,” explains Brombosz. “In runners, that might look like this: ‘Why am I not hitting the pace I wanted?’ or ‘I am so tired, I just want to stop.’ Those thoughts aren’t helpful. But when you meditate consistently, even for a few minutes a few times a week, it’s easier to drop them on your runs.”
You can use meditation to set a goal or stay motivated.
The practice of meditation essentially serves as a tool to help you focus on your breath, acknowledge any thoughts or emotions or sensations, and cultivate a sense of well-being or contentment. Doing so before or during a run allows you to tune into both your mind and body. You can also use specific meditation techniques around mantras or breathing to push toward certain workout goals or pay attention to when you need to scale it back.
“Mediation will calm and relax your mind, and in turn, relax your body,” says Aaptiv Trainer Jade Alexis. “Additionally, through mediation, we are able to connect with our inner self, establish goals, and mentally prepare ourselves to overcome obstacles. For example, if you are practicing mantra meditation, you can establish your mantra during your mediation. Then use it throughout your run.”
Mantras are effective, but if you’re unfamiliar with them, don’t worry. They’re simply short phrases that you keep repeating to yourself as motivation. So you can pick anything that resonates with you. You can say them aloud or think about them. They can be used during a specific meditation as a focal point for your thoughts, which translates well to running.
Here are some good examples:
- “I’m strong enough.”
- “Mind over matter.”
- “My body is capable of anything I set my mind to.”
- “Stay calm.”
- “You’re tougher than you think.”
It encourages you to stay present.
Consider running a moving meditation, says Brombosz. Instead of mentally listing out what groceries you need to buy at the store after a run, focus on what’s happening in the present moment. Your breath, the feeling of your feet meeting the pavement, letting go of unhelpful or unnecessary thoughts.
“The rhythmical, regular and prolonged activity of running is a perfect time to practice meditation,” adds Ruggero Loda, founder of Running Shoes Guru. “Most runners are familiar with the zone, that part of running where your mind is free and your body moves almost effortlessly in harmony. Running while being mindful of your body, the rhythm of your cadence, your deep slow breaths, the reaction of your body, and the natural flow of the running movement are all aspects that lead to both a great run and a great meditation session.”
Now that you know all the benefits of meditating before your runs, cue up an Aaptiv meditation before your next Aaptiv run.