Running can be considered to be the original sport, don’t you think? There isn’t one amongst us who has never gone running! Since we were little kids and toddlers, we have been running around everywhere (sometimes too much, sorry mom and dad!). We run around to play tag with our friends, we run with our pets, and after we grow up a little, some of us continue to run just for fun! While running is different when you are a toddler and an adult, this is an activity that helps us immensely, no matter how old or young we are. And not just as a physical activity to exercise your body. Scientists and psychologists for many years have been looking at how running benefits us in a more well-rounded way, and are now understanding what makes this activity such a good habit to add to our daily routine.
This World Running Day (June 1), we would like to take you through one of the key benefits that experts know running provides us with – mindfulness. We know you are wondering, what is mindfulness? And how is it important to me? Don’t worry, we have you covered! Let’s dive into this and understand if and why running can be the perfect activity for you to pick as you go ahead in life, achieving your dreams and goals!
Mindfulness is described as “the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.” We can understand it better for our purposes by thinking of it as a calm mood or mental state to try to be in. Of course, when everything is wonderful and we are getting exactly what we want, this is super easy! But what about when we feel a little worried, or a little stressed? Or maybe there are times we do worry a lot? This is where being mindful helps us.
According to experts, mindfulness is focusing our awareness only on the present moment, while we calmly acknowledge all of what we are feeling and thinking at that moment. Unlike what we often have to do in everyday life, when we set aside time to be mindful, we don’t jump to the solution or the next thing! We aren’t trying to do anything. Mindfulness is the lack of doing things, and instead, is about taking a little time to just be ourselves, however we are.
This small practice done daily helps us teach our brain to quiet down and take it easy. It helps make us calm in everyday life, and thus calmer in situations that otherwise could cause us to worry more than necessary.
If you have ever gone for a run, especially if you were competing with your friends for that first spot, you know the feeling of joy when you stop caring about everything else and just want to make it there! You stop worrying about winning, and you just simply run!
That is the real magic of running! When we run without carrying any other thoughts in our head, we are letting our brain rest and focus only on the present moment.
Until we really grow up and start spending the majority of our time working, there really isn’t a need to meditate. But everyone can benefit, no matter how old they are, from the practice of being mindful. This is where cultivating running as a practice comes in!
As a sport, it is the easiest to pick up, you don’t need other people nor do you need a lot of extra supplies to begin. Just strap on your running shoes (and add a quick stretch while you are at it) and off you go!
The biggest reason to start running isn’t anything to do with mindfulness but simply the fact that it doesn’t take a lot to start!
Another factor is that the only person you are competing with is yourself, you are free to pace yourself just as you want. This helps cultivate a sense of discipline and accountability we hold to ourselves, which can be very inspiring indeed!
It is especially motivating to set goals and achieve them, all completely left to us to decide and execute. After all, when we run freely, we feel like we are on top of the world, don’t we?
Running as a mindfulness practice also helps us get more in tune with our mind and body.
We not only see what we are capable of when we run, but we also feel every step, every turn of the road, and every breath we take in and out. This brings us so much closer to our own bodies, and understanding how it is connected to our mind, and even our feelings.
In fact, using running as a mindfulness practice means we only focus on these elements, so that this connection between the mind and body can grow. As we focus more of our attention on how our bodies are moving, we start to understand it better and better. Of course, the feeling of pride when we see how fast and far we can go is pretty neat too!
Over time, all the little bits and pieces of calmness and joy that you feel while you run start adding up to create a mood that isn’t restricted to your runs. As you slowly build a habit of running mindfully, that sense of calmness and joy, and the feeling of understanding yourself better happens not only on your runs but even when you aren’t running.
Mindful or not, we know running can be a super fun activity! And now that you know all this about running, do you think you’d like to give it a try? Do you think mindfulness is something that you would like to add to your daily routine? Let us know in the comments!
And don’t forget to call up your friends today and go for a short run to celebrate the spirit of World Running Day! All the best, we are cheering for you from the stands!
Learn more about the wonders of the human body and mind with these articles:
Why do some athletes collapse in the middle of a race?
Beyond Physical Fitness – What’s in a Team Sport?
Adrija is a writer, dancer, and artist, who loves to learn (about everything). She has grown up in many places and still carries a big love for all things travel and culture. Adrija loves fantasy, science-fiction and anything that transports her to magical worlds. Her favourite books include Harry Potter and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. She’s always on the lookout for cute animals to pet, places to explore, and good humans to share stories, laughter, and joy with.
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