Let’s face it, running isn’t always easy - we put lots of strain on our bodies and minds. On the best days, it’s a joyful aerobic passtime, but sometimes those miles are a major grind. Meditation is one of the best things a runner can do to take every aspect of their game to the next level.
The practice of mindfulness has even been shown to “reduce blood pressure...anxiety. depression, and insomnia.”(source) So, it helps you perform; it helps you recover; it makes you happier; need we say more?
Recently, the practice of mindfulness has exploded in popularity. In 2012, Only 4% of Americans had ever tried meditating, but now over 14% of Americans report having tried it at least once. These numbers are even higher in the fitness minded communities that us runners motor around in. We’ve also seen meditation become part of a few elite runners' pre race routines. It’s a tremendous way to set your mind up to perform optimally, whatever challenge you’re about to face.
So, OK, you’re sold on adding this whole meditation thing to your fit, runner lifestyle. There are so many meditation apps and books. We’ve tried em all, and we think that what kind of runner you are will help us figure out which meditation app to try.
Here’s the dating game. Stop when it sounds like you…then take a deep breath ????
You love soft trails, mountain vistas, and granola as a post run snack. You’ve got to try Calm. When you open the app, you immediately feel as though you’ve been transported to the National Park of your choosing. You can pick a naturescape background (and corresponding soundscape) that best fits your mood. The teacher who leads many of their meditations is a woman named Tamara Levit. The sound of her voice reminds me of a stream flowing gently in a peaceful forest. Their sleep stories, read by the famous likes of Matthew Mccognaay, will put you to sleep even when you’ve got a big race in the morning.
You run in the city, your running wardrobe is 90% black, and everyone in your running club has tattoos. You’ve got to try Headspace. This is the cool meditation app - very on trend. Their founder, Andy Puddicombe, studied sports science in school before practicing as a Buddhist monk in Asia. The app caters well to athletes and even has some mindful running sessions you can try. It’s easier to open up the app and commit to investing in yourself when that experience feels fun. They’ve succeeded in making every aspect of meditation extremely cool, and we’re all about it.
You’re a data junky. You love the technical aspects of running like heart rate monitoring or gate analysis. You make all your decisions with an eye to your watch. You should try 10% Happier. They describe themselves as “Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics” and will convince even the most cynical realist to invest in the practice of mindfulness. Their curriculum emphasizes expert teachers, simplicity, and research backed arguments for adopting consistent practice. As runners we are constantly living the examined life and make our decisions based on evidence: pace, duration, split time, mileage. If that sounds like you, 10% is the app that will get you hooked on meditation. Your brain will thank you.
What about you; what's your favorite meditation app and how do you incorporate mindfulness into your running? Let us know in the comments below!