Benefits of meditation for runners

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1/ Run happier

People who meditate report improvements in mood and wellbeing, which may help running feel like a reward, not a chore. When you focus on the present moment rather than worrying about past or future disappointments, you start to notice plenty of fleeting details that are worth savouring, such as the sights and sounds of nature.

READ: What's behind a runner's high?

2/ Stay relaxed

Meditation may help you relax for optimal performance. Runners sometimes tense up over key races or workouts – and tension sucks up valuable physical and mental energy. ‘Having my mind calm and focused before a big race is the key to a solid finish,’ says pro ultra runner and meditation coach Timothy Olson.

READ: How meditation can help you fulfil your running potential

3/ Avoid injury

‘Taking stock of your mental and physical state during meditation allows you to make better choices about your workout,’ says Olson. ‘Registering a tight hamstring or grouchy Achilles helps you to adapt your training before injury strikes.’

READ: How to avoid common running injuries

4/ Tolerate pain better

Of course, you don’t want to dismiss pain: it can indicate injury, but more minor discomforts, such as a blister or a stitch, can feel less disastrous when you apply meditation’s central tenet of observation without alarm. ‘We intensify pain when we fixate on it,’ says Olson. ‘But when we relax and accept it, it fades in strength and often becomes pretty tolerable.’

READ: Get fit and increase your pain tolerance

5/ Run further…

By confining your attention to the now (rather than thinking about how awful you might feel at mile 18), you can focus on simply moving forward – which results in better long-haul endurance.

READ: How to use mindfulness to overcome running struggles

6/ … With more freedom

‘Meditation has helped me tune into myself more clearly, without distractions like wanting to know how far it is to the next aid station, or how fast my last mile was,’ says Olson. ‘Focusing on my breath and my next step has allowed me to tap into an innate ability to know what my body craves at that moment, and allows me to enjoy the run.’

READ: 8 ways to be a more positive runner