Running is a form of meditation in itself, but it can take years to get in that state when all you do is go with the flow, running freely, listening to the sound of your own footsteps. If you’re like me, and you haven’t yet reached that “blissful” state, you might want to know how implementing meditation before my run changed my own perspective, and with it, my whole relationship with running.
In the beginning, I wanted to be that person who really loved running; who needed it to “clear her head” and get her thoughts in place; who couldn’t imagine anything better than tying her shoelaces and hitting the road. I wanted it so hard…yet…I was the furthest from it.
I hated the way my legs hurt after each run, I hated knowing that once I’ve reached my destination I have to run all the way back, I couldn’t find a rhythm and pace my breathing, I couldn’t stand running with my water bottle, so I constantly debated whether I should run without it only to discover feeling like I was about to die out of thirst, none of my hair ties worked well enough to keep my hair from hitting me in the face in my stride, and I was obsessed with looking at my watch, waiting for it to finally be over. So, yeah, you could say I didn’t like running at all.
Slowly, over time, I started feeling better, looser, and finding a sense of ease in my runs. Although far from that “runner’s thrill,” I did start hoping I’d be able to reach it someday. The physical part was getting better, but I was still lacking the mental aspect. No matter how many days a week I got up, put on my running shoes, and bolted out the door, I still couldn’t wait to be done with it and get back home. I realized how now that my body wasn’t thinking I was punishing it anymore, I needed to change my own mindset if I wanted to continue with my running schedule and find some sort of progress.
I’ve been practicing yoga since I was 13 years old, and I learned how to be in the moment, let go of anything that doesn’t serve me and simply be there, on my mat. For some reason, I couldn’t seem to get into that mindset while running, and I decided to get into my own head and hack it by trying to meditate before my run. I discovered the ASICS Studio™ app and started with a simple 5 min breathing meditation from their “Be Here Now” collection after I’ve put on my running clothes and just before I was about to get out of my house, and I found myself feeling better in the first few minutes, just to go back to feeling miserable. The feeling of zen wasn’t holding me long enough, and I was determined to find ways to extend it.
I signed back on to the app and added a few more minutes to my meditation, really trying to prepare myself for the long, endurance-demanding workout ahead of me, but I was still only able to keep it for a little while, 10-15 min max. That’s when I realized I had to change my approach to meditating, and instead of thinking about it as something I needed to do to endure my run, I started thinking about it as something that will enhance my run, improve my stride, relax my brain, and help me get the best and most out of my training.
That is the moment everything changed. I stopped trying to hype myself up for a run and “get in the zone” by using meditation as a tool to keep me from giving up, and instead, I used it to fuel my entire run, helping me get out of my head when it gets too hard. By implementing the right meditation concept, using the great ASICS Studio™ app, and acknowledging everything that was happening throughout every part of my training, I was able to eliminate negative thoughts and bring motivation and positivity in, pushing me further and longer than I ever did before. This resulted in faster times, longer runs, better physical sensations, improved recovery time, and a general respect and love for running.
If you’re asking if I’ve found the thrill, I don’t think I have yet. I’ve experienced moments of “weightless running” and peaceful stillness, but I don’t think I can call them “thrilling.” Nevertheless, I do believe that if I keep up with this practice, I WILL find it someday… cause it’s all in the mind, and our mind is incredibly powerful.