What’s one thing you can do when you first walk out the door to ensure a more mindful run?
Work to sync your breath with your stride. Warming up is the best time to make this mind/body connection. And it takes just 5 minutes. Start by walking at a nice gentle pace. Then focus on the breath, making sure you breathe in through the nose…and preferably out through the nose as well (something we work on in the Mindful Running Training Program with more advanced breathing techniques).
Now use the breath as a metronome, and get in rhythm with your steps…perhaps it’s inhale, step, step, step (take 1 step during the inhale too–so 4 steps total) and exhale, step, step, step (4 steps total on the exhale).
Key note: there’s no right or wrong sequence or numbers of steps per breath here. All we’re trying to do is get your breath connected to your step.
Something magical will happen as you do this. You’ll stop thinking very much about anything else other than your breath and your steps. Make sure you watch where you’re going and adjust your breath accordingly as you start to go faster. No matter what, keep breathing in through the nose.
Why am I emphasizing breathing through the nose? For one thing, nose breathing is more relaxing on your body. The less tension in your body, the less chance you have of injury. Second, nose breathing over mouth breathing does a better job of warming up your cardio system and a well functioning cardio system means better oxygen delivery to your muscles. When you breathe through your nose, turbinates (think of them as tiny turbines) inside your nose help send air all the way down to the bottom of your lungs. Nose breathing in essence promotes deep breathing, while mouth breathing results in shallow breathing. (There are many many more reasons why you should practice nose breathing through the day, but I’ll leave that fun topic for another day.)
Personally, I start with this exercise and then work into more advanced breathing and step-work for at least the first 20-30 minutes of my runs. Overtime, this exercise will become second nature, but for now just 5 minutes to start will help put you in the zone, get you “running in the now,” and keep you relaxed for your entire run. Inhale, step, step, step. Exhale, step, step, step. Have fun with this, and enjoy the rhythm of your breath!
This is Michael Sandler saying Be Mindful, Have Fun, and Run Free!