One of the benefits I found years ago when I started running was that in the midst of running, all my worldly problems disappeared for those 30 or 40 minutes. Even though running was strenuous, it cleared my mind. A few years ago, after I recovered from a 6 month running injury, I asked my family to join with me as we started to train for a 5k run together.
Throughout the training, my wife started having the same reaction I did, the running was actually a good stress buster for her. She realized during the training that all her work related issues were placed on the shelf for that thirty or forty minutes and she was feeling good. While she never really had a self-esteem issue, she was proud that she was in the best shape of her life.
I have struggled through some running injuries, age related injuries and a cervical disc herniation. About two years ago at the apex of my injuries, I totally shut down my running. As a result of stopping running, I could feel my stress levels rising, my mental state was off and my self-esteem dropped. At that point I needed to redirect my energies and started attending some Buddhism and meditation classes. My mind needed to be refocused.
Having recovered from many of my injuries, I started with some light weights, I added longer walks and bicycle riding. When I was ready, I used the walks as opportunities to run. I use to run 7 out of 14 days but now I have limited my runs to twice a week to give my body more time to recover. On the days I don’t run, I may play tennis, Stretch, walk, lift weights and I have recently added Yoga to the list of activities.
Other than *not* over training, the best advice (with my personal spin) is the advice I offer to you below:
Breathe! Concentrate on your breath and how hard you are breathing. If you can’t speak like you are having a conversation, slow down your pace. Sometimes I huff and puff , other times I find myself breathing out more than I am breathing in, when that happens I take that as a sign I may be running too fast and not breathing properly. I use this as an opportunity to focus on what I need to: Breathe in, Breathe out and slow down the pace until my breathing is normal again.
Relax! Have you ever noticed when you run, your shoulders seem to tense up and your shoulders seem to go up to your ears? or are you clenching your fists as you run, these habits are common with runners. Have you ever watched a Baseball game and see, prior to throwing a pitch, the pitcher will purposely bring his shrug his shoulders towards his ears and then let them drop back down? The pitcher is checking to make sure he is not tense. Runners should do this too! I start looking at this every few minutes as I run. Just be aware of it if you tense up your shoulders. At first I use to purposely lower my shoulders and shake my arms during the run. Sometimes I lift my arms up and down rhythmically during the run just to stay loose.
Right Mind! I know a few people who simply hate to run but find that they HAVE to. “Hate” is not coming from a positive mind and running doesn’t need to cause you to suffer. Get yourself in the right mind! Be positive about running, the challenges you face and about the end result
Clear Your Mind! Forget work, forget the household chores, forget your busy schedule! Replace it with breathing and relaxing. Look at that beautiful tree, one person I know enjoys looking at houses (Hi Robyn!). Concentrate on your breathing and concentrate on keeping those shoulders relaxed, listen to some music.
I find if I can balance everything, I can run longer and finish feeling refreshed. I still get tired from the work-out but not in pain from a bunch of tensed up muscles. Find the right balance inside you, the balance of Body, Speed and Mind 🙂