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The Physical and Mental Benefits of Mindful Running

Mindful Running Helped Me Accept That Not Every Workout Will Feel Great

Sun rise, sun flare, rural landscape, misty.
I know it's unrealistic to expect that all of my runs are going to be absolutely amazing, but when I'm feeling sluggish, tired, stiff, and achy only three minutes into jogging — even though I got nine hours of sleep and thoroughly stretched — it's extremely difficult to actually accept that fact.

Lost in the negativity that comes along with a few really horrible runs in a row and just general life stress, I decided to give "mindful running" a shot.

I randomly discovered mindful running while searching through my Simple Habit app for a mood-boosting meditation session. I've turned to meditation and running separately in the past to ease my anxiety, so putting them together in a 15-minute segment seemed like a hopeful solution.

Committed to giving it a chance at least once, I laced up my sneakers and slipped out the door.

The moderator truly brought the concept of mindfulness to the act of running. The voice began by instructing me to pay attention to how parts of my body felt while running: how my feet felt as they hit the ground, how my legs felt as they picked up my feet up off the ground, how my arms felt as they helped me propel my body forward.

Surprisingly, being mindful of my body made me forget about not having music to listen to while taking my strides.

Then, as the run progressed, the moderator suggested that I acknowledge how I felt overall: did I feel sluggish and tired, or energetic, fast, and race ready?

Whatever I felt in that moment, I was instructed to accept and acknowledge where I was at — essentially that it was OK that I didn't feel 100 percent or ready to sprint a 5K.

Coincidentally, that acceptance, coupled with a focus on my breathing patterns, took the pressure to perform out of the equation. Moments later, I felt my stress levels lower and breathing became even easier.

I don't think I'll entirely ditch my Shakira and J.Lo Super Bowl playlist, but you can bet I'll pull up this calming track the next time I'm struggling with the stress of feeling crappy while hitting the pavement.

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