Running meditation is a way of combining both meditation and running, allowing you to reap the benefits of both disciplines.
Running meditation helps you to reconnect with your body and be present in the now.
Maybe you’ve experienced running meditation before without knowing it.
Maybe you’ve had that feeling when you’re out on a long run where everything just clicks.
Breath, body, and mind are all working together, and running seems almost effortless.
In this article, we are going to dive into . . .
- What exactly running meditation is,
- 14 simple top tips to help you reach that zen mode,
- and finally, some running meditation podcast recommendations to listen to as you run.
Curious about how you can tap into that zen mode whenever you want?
Then keep reading!
What is Meditation?
Meditation is a practice that centres you in the now.It’s a skill that involves training your awareness, and it can take many forms.
The similarities between running and meditation
Have you ever heard anyone talk about how running for them is a sort of meditation?
Well, running and meditation actually have a lot in common.
They are both repetitive practices, and the more you work on them, the easier they become, and the better you become at mastering them.
Running and meditation are both similar in the sense that they help you connect to your body, they give your mind space to wander, and they are both relaxing practices (but that definitely doesn’t include speed work!).
What is Running Meditation?
Running meditation is centering your mind in your body, which in turn dissolves distractions, freeing you into the present moment.
Running meditation can result in a sense of calmness and relaxation, or a heightened focus, giving you the ability to really see everything clearly.
How to Meditate While Running
Sounds pretty good right? The good news is that anyone can do it.
Here are 14 top tips that will help you to tap into the ever-evasive present moment.
1. Do a quick pre-run meditation.
Before you head out on your run, a good way to set yourself up for running meditation success is to take the time to set the tone with a quick meditation.
Try not to be intimidated by the word ‘meditation’, just think of it as taking some deep breaths.
You’re going to want to do this when you’re completely ready to head out on your run, shoes on and all.
Here’s a simple simple five-step guide:
- Notice and relax your body as much as possible.
- Tune into your breath. Notice where you can feel your breath, be that in your stomach rising and falling, or the air rushing in and out of your nostrils.
- Breathe fully. Fill and empty your lungs deeply but don’t force it, keep it natural.
- Be kind to your wandering mind. You will have thoughts! Don’t beat yourself up for not having an empty mind. Notice them without judgement and keep coming back to the breath.
- Stay here for 5 minutes. If this seems too much, start with just two minutes and work your way up by a minute each time. If you want to do more than 5 minutes, go ahead!
2. Set yourself an intention before you start.
After your quick meditation, set yourself an intention.
An intention is a consciously declared guiding principle. Setting an intention holds you accountable and it is something that you can keep coming back to.
When your mind begins to wonder as you run, your intention is something that you can use. By repeating your intention to yourself you can refocus your mind on the present.
Here are some examples of intentions that you could set:
- I am running relaxed.
- I am running with an open mind.
- I am running strong.
- (or any intention you like!)
As you may have noticed, the intentions above are written in the present tense. Instead of ‘I will run relaxed’, we shift the narrative to ‘I am running relaxed’.
Running meditation isn’t some future goal that you are trying to achieve, you have all the tools within yourself to be present.
Instead of thinking of running meditation as something to do, reframe it as simply being.
3. Run by yourself.
Running meditation is certainly easier when your distractions are minimised. Therefore it is probably not the greatest idea to set out on a run with your running buddy.
4. Run outside.
It is harder to get into a state of flow when you’re running on a treadmill.
An easier way of tapping into it is to head out your front door.
If you have access to green space, be that a park, woods, beach, or trail, even better. If not, simply breathing in the fresh air and running around the streets will do just fine.
5. Run slow.
When you meditate while running you don’t want to be stressing about your speed. Instead, run at an easy, comfortable pace.
6. Don’t listen to music.
Music can be lots of fun while running, but to truly connect to yourself, minimising distractions is key.
7. Don’t look at your watch.
Or even better, leave your watch at home if you’re brave enough.
The last thing you want to be doing is stressing about your stats.
If you do bring your watch you’ll probably glance down at it and be shocked to find how slow you’re going. Well, that’s the whole point! Just ditch your watch at home to avoid the stat game.
8. Focus on your breath.
This is a common meditative tool, and for good reason.
The breath is anchored in the present moment and it is constant.
Your breath is also a mental signpost. You can often tell if you or someone else is stressed or relaxed by the way they are breathing.
When you meditate, you can take the reigns and allow yourself to breathe in a relaxed way.
9. Notice your mental reaction
If it’s your first time meditating, or even if it’s not, your mind might have a lot to say about it.
It is incredibly common for your mind to fight against meditation. This might look like an internal dialogue that says ‘I am so bad at this!’, or maybe, ‘this is silly!’.
Notice these thoughts and try not to internalise them, judge them, or try to fight them. Just notice them.
Once you non-judgementally become aware of your thoughts, you become present. As strange it might be to wrap your head around- you are not your thoughts.
10. Notice the sound of your feet striking the ground.
Much the same way as many Buddhists use chant to settle their mind into meditation, or like those who swear by meditating to the sound of a metronome, you can harness the sound of your footfall to get into your running meditation.
Listening to your foot strike can help to ground you in the moment and tune in to your internal rhythm.
Marathon Runner Paula Radcliffe is famously a fan of counting to get in the zone and bring her focus back to the goal when the going got tough.
But unlike what we are trying to do, she used this technique to ignore the sensations in her body, rather than get in touch with them!
11. Listen to your body.
Too often we block out what our body is trying to tell us. Have you ever persistently ignored a niggle until it became an injury?
Try to zoom in on what your body is telling you. Do you need to take a sip of water? Or maybe slow down? Tune in to its queues.
An added bonus of tuning into your body is the way in which it can help you to improve your running form. You might notice your head is craning forward, or your feet are thumping down too hard on the ground.
In turn, listening to your body and correcting your running form can help to reduce your risk of injury.
12. Have a look around.
Indulge yourself in your surroundings.
One of the great things about running meditation is being able to fully immerse yourself in wherever you are. You might begin to notice things that you never had before, even if you’ve chosen a regular route.
13. Run with a sense of gratitude.
Remember that you chose to head out and run. And remember that you like to run for fun. You have a body that lets you do it, a space to run in, and that’s a wonderful thing to be grateful for.
Running Meditation isn’t something that you need to drill into yourself like an army sergeant, it should be a happy and gentle practice, so be gentle with yourself.
Running Meditation Podcasts
If you don’t think you’re ready to attempt running meditation by yourself, first of all – you are. But if you want to, then you can listen to a running meditation podcast to help guide you through this new practice.
Here are our hand-picked favourites:
- Headspace Meditation for Running– Headspace, top of their game when it comes to guided meditation, currently have 15 guided meditations for running.
- Insight Timer Running Meditation– this one helps you see the world as you run through each of the five senses.
- Nike Run Club– They developed various guided running meditations in conjunction with headspace, and they’re great.