What do we mean by mindful fitness? How about running with greater awareness, more mental presence and focus?
In my last newsletter I wrote a piece on running mindfully 'on purpose. ' Read the full text here on my blog.
According to Jon Kabat-Zinn...
"mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way;
in the present moment,
Have you ever been running, say in a race or a challenging run, and suddenly realised you can't remember Runnjng the last mile because your mind was elsewhere? That's an example of mindlessness. Mindfulness can help us be fully focussed in the present moment where we are, whatever we are doing. Wouldn't it be great if our running really helped us leave unhelpful thoughts and the stress of our busy lives behind.
How do we enhance and develop this 'being present?'
I'm going to suggest that the 'form intervals' advocated in the chi running book are a great way to do this. Form intervals involve running for 1 minute periods of time during which you focus your mind and body entirely on one of the Chi Running technique focuses. This might be, for example, lengthening from the crown of your head. See if you can maintain your attention closely for the whole of that 60 second period. If one minute is too long for you on a particular day, shorten the period of focus. If you find your mind wandering just accept that, because it will happen, and bring it back to the form focus.
After the period of focus, allow your mind to wander wherever it will. Allow a set period of time, whatever works for you, and then focus again. I suggest working towards 1 min on 1 min off as an aim, but allow more time between to start with. If you have attended a course with me you will have been given a list of the chi running focuses. They are also helpfully organised in pairs in the Chi Running and Chi Marathon books. When you are well practised you will be able to work on a pair of focuses together.
The second way I suggest would help be more 'in the present moment' is to learn to body scan. This involves body sensing any tension or imbalance in your body. Work from the feet up to the head and listen carefully. Try going for a run and doing a body scan every 10 minutes. There is a great script for this in the chi running app. There is also more detail on how to body scan in the Chi Running book (you can buy a copy at my workshops or on www.chirunning.uk) A great way to learn to body scan if you can make it to the Yorkshire area is on an 'Introduction to mindfulness course.' If you attend my Trail and Chi Running weekend in August, this workshop is included in the weekend on Saturday morning.
You may also want to read my blog on Running With The Mind of Meditation which has more information on this approach to running.
There are more thoughts on running mindfully on my blog here. Just use the tags to have a search for different topics.