One of the best things you can do for your body is to simply go for a run. It doesn’t matter how fast run, far you go, sweat, or even how hard you work; simply going for a run can be the difference between a bad day and a good day for many people. Why is this, though? Chances are, if you talk to runners, inevitably they’ll start talking about this nebulous mind body connection in running. Obviously, our minds control everything that we do in life.
Our brains are the epicenter of our nervous system, after all. But what do runners talk about when they talk about the mind body connection in running?
I’ve been a runner for most of my life, and nearly all of my adult life. To me, the mind body connection includes the following:
Running Can Be A Way To Unplug From Our Hyperconnected World
For many runners, running is a huge form of stress relief, an outlet from the cacophony of everyday life and doldrums.
From the time we awaken to the time we go to bed, many of us are often hyper-plugged-in. We’re constantly on our phones, checking our thousands of social media accounts, interacting with our colleagues, peers, and families, getting directions, driving, taking pictures, you name it.
For many of us, taking the time to run each day is the only time that we’re not uber-connected. Granted, if you want to, you could do something silly like live-stream your run, but most runners choose not to.
In fact, aside from some pictures if you’re running somewhere especially scenic, you may be completely disconnected while you’re running. Intentionally taking time to disconnect can do a wonder for our mental health, and running can help facilitate this as well.
Running Can Be Supremely Relaxing and Cathartic
There isn’t really a whole lot to the process of running, and truth be told, most of us have been doing it our whole lives, having learned it at a very young age.
Unlike many other sports, running doesn’t necessitate years of specialized lessons and instructions, nor does it require expensive equipment. Provided you have the interest in running (and the cleared health that’d allow you to do it in the first place), you’re good to go.
Many people find the cathartic, repetitive, and predictable nature of running to be supremely relaxing. They may choose to let their minds wander when they’re running or to simply take in their surroundings as they approach them.
This, together with the aforementioned unplugging, can be huge for your mental health and overall well-being.
Running Can Help You Strengthen Your Mental Toughness
If you enjoy reading sports literature or sports psychology, you probably already noticed that sports psych lit about mental toughness or mental conditioning is hugely popular right now. Books like Matt Fitzgerald’s How Bad Do You Want It? are taking on sacred text-like status for runners and athletes everywhere.
When you run, every time you lace up, you’ll have many opportunities to make decisions about your exercise routine: how far you want to run, how fast a pace you want to maintain, and when the going gets tough – as it undoubtedly will – if you’ll quit or keep trying.
Runners often say that running, especially the long distance stuff, is more a mental sport than anything, and this is what they are referring to.
Physically speaking, most anyone can train to run super long distances; what sets people apart is whether they can mentally get themselves trained and conditioned to a space that is as ready to fight as they are physically.
As we become adults, without much exception, we don’t get the opportunity to show our true colors — what we’re made of — in terms of our physical pursuits, but running gives us this avenue. Just like any other muscle, the more you work your “mental muscle,” so to speak, the tougher and stronger it will get over time.
Fortunately, having a strong “mental muscle” has transferable effects to other areas of your life as well. As you learn how to dig deep in your training, you will learn how to ride out and persist during some of the emotionally or physically-trying times in your life, in other realms.
Running Can Teach You To Be Your Biggest and Loudest Cheerleader & Advocate
It may sound silly, but think about how you speak to yourself.
When you see yourself in the mirror, do you immediately lament your big nose? How about your chubby belly? Or your flat chest? Or something else of yours that you deem inadequate or inferior?
How about when you’re running and doing a hard workout? Does your stream of consciousness go to ideas like I’m so slow. I’ll never be able to realize my goals. Or I’m not a real runner, why do I even do this stuff, or other, similarly-self-defeating chatter?
Running illuminates to us how important it is that we talk to ourselves like we would to our very best friend: encouragingly, supportively, lovingly, and cheerfully.
Replace your negative self-talk in the mirror with positive commentary. Remark about how strong you look. Or about how well and healthy you feel, and how happy you are to have another chance at life today.
When you’re running, acknowledge what a long way you’ve come since you first began running. Consider how lucky you are to be able to do what you do for fun, simply because you want to. And not because someone is forcing you to or because it’s a means of income for you and your family.
The mind body connection in running is hugely important. You may be surprised to find how quickly and dramatically the tables can turn in your favor when you replace your negative bantering with one more positive and encouraging.
Like strengthening your mental toughness, changing your self-talk will have transferable, positive effects on other, non-running areas of your life, as well.
The Mind Body Connection In Running
The mind body connection in running is varied and deep. But there’s not a doubt in this runner’s mind that the connection plays a critical role in runners’ lives. Even simply changing the way we talk to ourselves, running or not, can be a huge game-changer.
Try it on for size and I bet you’ll be surprised at your findings.
About the Guest Contributor:
Hiker, follower of Christ and a record lover. Producing at the nexus of conceptualism to answer problems with honest solutions. Acting at the sweet spot between modernism and purpose to craft experiences in real life.
I hope you found this article to be interesting and informative.
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