Mindful running: Why movement is medicine

Running is a great activity for helping us balance our mental health. Conditions such as depression, anxiety and stress often benefit from physical activity as part of any management strategy.

William Pullen has developed a kind of psychotherapy called Dynamic Running. He is a qualified Psychotherapist, registered with the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP).  Here he gives us his top 10 tips for mindful running.

Most of us know that movement is healing – a medicine not just for the body but also for the mind and soul. We know this in our bones and in our hearts. Movement is instinctive and written deep into our DNA. How about an exercise that combines running with mindfulness?

Mindfulness running is great for bringing people into the living moment and out of their heads. So much of our time is spent worrying about the future or regretting the past. It can make running more fun as it shows you both how to get more relaxation out of it but also how to really connect with your environment. Birds, trees, grass, flowers, people, clouds – there’s so much to see, smell, touch and listen to.

This wonderful practise can help you tap into the calm place deep inside of you and shed some of the daily grind and anxiety that comes with this over-stimulated world of ours. It’s best to opt for a familiar route at first so you don’t have to worry about getting lost. Distance and speed are optional but most people prefer to relax and find their flow rather than pushing themselves.


Guide to mindful running:

1.      Once you are on the move, find a comfortable pace. This may be a different pace on different days, depending on your mood.

2.      Take a moment or two to become mindful of the weather and your surroundings. Be conscious of the colours, smells and shapes around you.

3.      Once you have a little momentum, remind yourself of your intention to run mindfully.

4.      When you are ready, choose a foot, whichever feels more comfortable, and count each time it hits the ground. Remember only one foot, and the same one each time.

5.      Count ten steps, beginning once more at one when you have done so. Keep this going.

6.      When invasive or unhelpful thoughts come, just acknowledge they have come and then let them go before returning to your mindful running.

7.      If the thoughts return, then once more let them go. It may take some time for you to get familiar with mindful running and there will be days it is harder than others.

8.      If the thoughts are saying you cannot go on any longer, ask yourself if they spring from your mind or your body. If they come from your mind they are just thoughts and not the truth, let them pass on by.

9.      When you find yourself in the kind of zone where the world disappears and it is just you and your steps, then you are in your flow.

10.  If you want to mix things up, you can try counting your breaths instead of your steps. Be mindful of the fullness of the breath as you do so. Enjoy the sensation of filling and emptying your lungs.

If you are interested in mindful running read our review of William’s book Run for Your Life – Mindful Running for a Happy Life https://www.runmummyrun.co.uk/reviews/mindful-running-happy-life-william-pullen/

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