How to Become a Better Runner

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Become a Better RunnerBy doing this simple technique while you run, you’ll learn how to release tension, move efficiently, pace yourself wisely, and keep your body hydrated and fueled. From The Chi Marathon: The Breakthrough Natural Running Program for a Pain-Free Half Marathon and Marathon by Danny Dreyer and Katherine Dreyer.

Being mindful means knowing what your body needs in any given moment and how to respond to various internal and external demands as they present themselves. It’s being able to make subtle adjustments in your running form from moment to moment while keeping in mind the entirety of the run.

The skill most key to accomplishing this is Body Sensing. Body Sensing is a mindful awareness of your physical, emotional, and energetic state of being in any given moment. When you realize you are carrying tension in your shoulders, you can begin to consciously relax and let the tension go. When you realize you are overstriding, you can learn to shorten your gait, allowing your feet to land softly under you instead of out in front of you with a braking effect.

The beauty of Body Sensing is how much even the most challenged runners improve with just a few hours of paying attention to their body in a new way. While training for a marathon, you’ll have ample time to check in with your body, do regular Body Scans, and get to know how your body best functions. You can do a Body Scan anytime, even right now. Close your eyes, drop your focus to your feet, and slowly scan up your whole body as if your mind were an MRI scanner. Notice anything and everything you can: where there is tension, how your body is positioned, how your weight is distributed. Can you feel any places that are tense? Stop and take five deep breaths. We’re told to do that all the time, but how often do you actually stop and consciously breathe? Five deep breaths takes only a few seconds and will help focus your mind and feel your body. Pay attention to the thoughts, feelings, and sensations that arise as you “listen” to your body. These messages are worth paying attention to. You don’t have to do anything about any of your findings at this stage. Just notice and learn, or make any adjustments that make you more comfortable.

Body Sensing involves taking an active interest in the state of your physical being in the moment, “listening” to your senses to determine if you are functioning optimally and whether you need to make any adjustments. What will help the energy to flow in your body? Some cool water, a deep breath, a stretch? Only you can feel your body and what it needs. No doctor, running coach, or any other human being has the honor of feeling and knowing what your body is telling you. It is a realm that, to me, is totally fascinating because it is what we experience every moment of our lives.

When you get good at Body Sensing you’ll discover it is the small adjustments that make a big difference in how you run, how you eat, and how you go through each day. By making those small, incremental choices, you not only affect the course of your workouts but also build the skills and confidence to make the bigger choices when you need to.

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