I’m currently training for a half marathon. I often let my mind wander when I run as, let’s face it, running is boring and thinking is a good distraction. However, at some point on the longer runs I will start to suffer and no matter how hard I try not to think about my painful (insert any body part) I will:
a) Curse my age/ lack of time to train properly/ mental weakness / parents for passing on bad genes / anyone who runs past me
b) Convince myself I need to stop to prevent irreversible damage
c) Plan my recovery/training regime/race strategy to prevent irreversible damage
d) Repeat a-c
With a good year of mindfulness practise in the bag I thought it was time to apply mindfulness to my (self-induced) suffering. Instead of running through the old thought patterns (see a-c above) I brought my attention to my painful right hamstring in this case. Yes it ached, but without the drama of a-c, it really didn’t ache that much. It was actually a relief to get out of my head and see the sensations for what they were…….just sensations. I kept running while I did this and guess what? The ache got better. I managed to run farther than I have in a long time and ENJOYED it. And that irreversible damage? Didn’t happen.
Mindfulness is being widely adopted in sports to improve focus and reduce the negative effects extreme pressure has on the performance of athletes. Turns out it helps us little people too by making sport more enjoyable ………and less painful.