February 12, 2023

Conscious Running

Lately, I have picked up running again more than climbing due to my elbow injuries. I can´t climb anymore, at least for the moment. Too bad, but there is more to life than that.

Indeed, running, swimming and fitness are my sports for now. I´m especially into running again. And not just running, but conscious running. And what is conscious running and how can you do it too?

Conscious running to me is being aware of your body, your breath, and the environment around you. It is comparable to slow running, the difference is that you do not necessarily have to run slow, just slower in order to enjoy it and nature more.

But how? Feel.

Do not look at your watch too often for that, as uphill and downhill can intervene with your heartbeat. Instead, feel what your breath is doing: can you still think, talk, maybe even sing along? This means your heart will beat lower due to the lower pace, but you do not have to stick to that per se because it is about being able to enjoy the run and environment as much as possible. In this way, you can also endure much more and longer runs. Simultaneously, your sensitivity for injuries will decrease as you just enjoy running in nature. 

In general, slow/conscious running is healthier than competition running. In fact, research has shown that this type of running is excellent for physical as well as mental health. It is good for your cardiovascular, muscle and brain systems. It reduces the risk of premature mortality (longer lifs span) (Miller, N. 2020), and ´Slow jogging practiced three hours a week for half a year, increases the number of brain cells of people exercising´ (Miller, J.B., 2019).

It is about running from Eco: healthy ego towards yourself, and in relation to your surroundings, rather than Ego: fast pace, trying to win, from yourself, others, or even the surroundings you are in. My own road towards Eco / conscious sports was tough literally and figuratively, but I get it now: it is about focusing on the experience, rather than the outcome. For more tips on Ego to Eco in sports, check out the 7 Principles of Ego2Eco Sports.

For instance, today I went running in the Kennemerduinen: the dunes near Haarlem. We have a lake there with animals (birds, wild horses, and buffalo´s) and occasionally you will see them (see picture above). Not today though. Therefore, I just went for the trees, plants, sand and overall feeling of freedom in nature/the wild. In addition, I usually run with headphones, but when I run consciously and in the dunes I put that off and run according to my heart, breath and legs.

When you do not focus on your pace or heartbeat, but just run by feeling and flow, you enjoy running more, and the surroundings simultaneously. 

So, immerse yourself in nature, slow down, and enjoy the scenery.

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Lavinia Warnars