Setting out on a long run feels very much like meditation, and like meditation it takes work to get into the right mindset.
Your brain is naturally going to want to gauge how far you have to go, and it’s those nagging thoughts that often make you want to cut things short far before your body is tired. The key to a long run, like the key to practicing meditation, is that you’ve got to clear your head and exist right there, in the moment.
How to Achieve Distance Running Meditation
There was an episode of Radiolab recently where they interviewed an ultra-marathon runner who talked about the rhythm of your stride and your breath. She described it as “poetry,” and I think that’s just about right.
To get to that sweet spot, you want to shut everything out of your head and focus on your breath coming in and out and your feet as they hit the pavement. What the ultra-marathoner talked about – and what’s worked for me and my partner – is a double inhale and exhale, paired with two strides. It works like this:
- As your foot hits the ground, you take a short breath in.
- The next time your foot makes contact with the pavement, take another short breath.
- Take another step and breathe out.
- Take one more step and breathe out again.
- Keep this rhythm going, breathing in and out and focusing on your stride and let other thoughts fall away.
You don’t want to count your steps or your breaths. Just breathe. In, in. Out, out. Step, step. Step, step. Before you know it, your mind will be quieter, and you’ll have found your rhythm.
Have any of you tried distance running? How did you prepare mentally for those long runs? I’d love to hear your experiences in the comments!
Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by Danielle Walquist Lynch