“If you are solely focused on getting through your workouts, try meditation – You will find the love you lost for the sport once again.”
There is no greater sport than running. It has taught me that I can do most anything if I am willing to put my head down and push through.
Running is an exercise in perseverance and building on small victories, that over time, equates to one massive success.Click to Tweet
However, every lifestyle endeavour has peaks and valleys. There are countless periods, whether during a training cycle, or running for fitness, when you ask, “Now, why in the hell am I doing this?” Over time, we learn to respond to self-doubt and the questions rising out of the thick tar of our subconscious. However, what if you have lost your love for running altogether?
Burnout is easily identifiable. Start by examining your approach to your next run. If you primarily focus on completing the task, and this is your focus for every run (not the occasional foreboding on a dark and damp day), you are experiencing burnout. Burnout is a pit that many are unable to pull out of. Is there a solution?
Okay! We have established your loss of love for running. You have completely forgotten how amazing running makes you feel. You are feeling depressed and arguments between you and your significant other (or cat) are on the rise. Your partner (or cat) sometimes even suggests, “Oh, are you going for a run? That will make you feel better!” You never receive this well, and your retort is rarely a productive form of speech.
It is time for the big guns, pulling out all the stops to get this fixed. You look pensively to the East. Yup, that is correct, the solution to your troubles is not in what you will do, but how you decide to do it – it is time to learn about meditation and mindfulness.
The practice of meditation in the West became popular in the 90’s, and continues to grow. It is now an integrated theme in holistic approaches to mental health and substance misuse treatment, and in some cases replacing psychotherapy all together.
You do not need to run out and buy a meditation cushion, wooden Buddha statue, or an incense holder to start meditating. Nor do you need to purchase expensive iTunes subscription services such as Headspace, to incorporate meditative practice into your day. Meditation is absolutely free! Even better, it can be practiced during your morning commute, as a part of your regular yoga practice, or while out or a run.
Meditation For Acceptance – Mindfulness for Peace
Meditation is primarily associated with Buddhism. It is the practice of sitting quietly with your thoughts and emotional experiences, without judgement or intent to alter them. It informs you about the content of your experiences, thus, adding clarity. We are able to see the “junk” tossing around in our mind, and by doing so, can decrease the utilization of that junk in our day-to-day life that does not serve us.
It is also important to consider mindfulness, a close companion of meditation. Mindfulness is the practice of acknowledging the in-the-moment senses experienced. Focused mindfulness sessions is often described as “grounding” and brings a sense of calm to a cluttered head space.
Where meditation is the practice of seeing the self and thoughts without judgment, mindfulness is the practice of acknowledging each moment as unique, worthy, and precious. Practice in both, moves intra-personal mountains.
Integration and Practice
I suggest you incorporate meditation and mindfulness into running, whether for fitness or training. Meditation and mindfulness are the only techniques I have found effective in pulling myself out of dark periods of burnout. Forcing yourself back out on the road every day, delays “burnout recovery.” Ending burnout requires intention and practice to find your love of the sport once again.
The Burnout Cure – Utilizing Meditation and Mindfulness
I suggest using the following meditation and mindfulness techniques. You will not be disappointed!
- Pre-Run Mindfulness Session: Use the time before you run to absorb yourself into the experience of setting out your gear, and putting on your gear with focus (underwear, shorts, shirt, heart rate strap, etc.). Avoid rushing out the door. Stay focused on each action of your pre-run routine.
- Senses Focused Training Session: Remain mindful of your senses as you step out the door, and how your body feels mile after mile. Accept the senses as they are. When your mind wonders, pull it back – Observe the scent in the air, the skyline, or even your tired legs. Be in the moment.
- Running Judgment Free Zone: While running, you will notice thoughts, dozens of thoughts that pass in front of your conscious mind. You might tell yourself, “Damn, my legs feel like lead today – Oh, that guy just passed me – A real athlete would not struggle with this easy workout.” Observe each thought, let it pass, then smile. It is just junk that does not define you. Jump back to #2!
- Post Run Thought Inventory: Meditation carries on as you step back inside, searching for that first restful glass of water. Notice your mind now. Has it shifted? Observe lingering doubts, without judgment, with a focus on what you just accomplished!
You will notice that I did not suggest taking time off the road as a cure for burnout. Actually, taking time off the road when you are physically capable, will solidify a much longer vacation from the sport, and likely a permanent one.
Using meditation and mindfulness as a runner, is both a solution and prevention. Respect that you are having a difficult time, don’t get down on yourself, and find your soul again in the sport. Running truly changes lives. It waiting every day as your friend and teacher.