Running of course is a repetitive activity and this actually provides a proper basis for focusing the mind however you might have found it hard too to think deeply about a matter at running. With that level of distraction perhaps listening to music would be an easy way of occupying the mind. Well, telling you something about uncool me (lol) I have never ever listened to music while running because I am either constantly checking my posture or am enjoying my daydreaming or sightseeing! I also enjoy the feeling of freedom at running and want to taste every second of it. I do not find it boring at all to amuse myself with music to be able to plough on.
As you might know there are lots of studies done on benefits of meditation. If by any chance you have researched meditation you must have come across articles on how it boosts brain activity, or how it helps [bad] stress.
What one tries to achieve at practicing meditation is this day-to-day need for focusing the mind on a topic to perceive, analyse and to conclude the best thought about it. Meditation is the exercise of the brain for show time, exactly like the preparation workouts for an athletic competition.
What makes meditation a challenge is that our minds cannot stop wandering and it becomes harder or sometimes does not make sense at all when we are engaged in an intensive physical activity.
A while back I was invited to a meditation session at work run by a dear colleague Daragh Byrne who is now running www.hellostillness.com . That was a great start to understand benefits of meditation and how it works but as far as I am too active I wondered if I could use the idea in a vigorous way of my own interest, and that would be of course running. So I tried focusing my mind on a single aspect of a good form at running for 1 kilometer. First time was hard, my mind started wandering a minute into the 1st km split. I pushed again and could hold for another minute and struggled until the kilometer was over. I rested (!) in the next kilometer, started again at the 3rd km split, and kept it as a routine: meditating by focusing my mind on a simple movement that would maintain a single aspect of a good running form at every odd kilometer. And I kept the habit since then. A GPS watch helps a lot actually, it beeps and reminds of the new kilometer split.
What one would have to do is to bear in mind some focal points of good running form to pick one in turn at every other split. Examples of such focal points:
- Breathing synchronised with steps
- Elbows on the sides to move on a straight line back and forth
- Eyes on the ground looking at 10-15m ahead
- Core activated, tummy tucked in and back straight (straight line from head to ankle)
- Push the air out, do not attempt [hard] to forcefully suck the air back in (leave it to your lungs to do it automatically for you)
My easy runs are at the pace of 5:xx per km which would give me 5+ minute meditation and the same amount of time goes to daydreaming and sightseeing. That is quite a good time for meditation and enjoying the sceneries.
Give it a go, leave the music back at home and instead use your time to check / correct your form while meditating by applying any of the above-mentioned focal points or any better ones you may know of, at every other minute or any time period of your choice. At the end, what we all probably agree with is it never hurts to hit two birds with one stone ;)