If you’ve ever turned to workout to erase the day’s stressful effects, you know how powerful and cleansing this routine is.
A good workout makes us less anxious, calmer, and happier.
But that comes after a workout. What if you could experience a little calm and happiness before you even begin?
You can with mindfulness, an ability to become focused and present.
1| Mindfulness inoculates you from stress and increases mental toughness.
In one study, Marines who took mindfulness training showed more resilience to stress. And, it didn’t stop there – they continued to develop inner strength to handle future stressors.
For athletes, mindfulness helps you cope with the physical stressors and the inevitable ups and downs of your training plan.
2| It keeps you safe. Whether you’re cycling, swimming, or running, mindfulness centers on awareness and attention and it’s especially important when you’re sharing the road with vehicles, navigating a slippery trail, or sighting in open-water.
Mindfulness requires you pay attention to your body, thoughts, and emotions. It helps you pinpoint what’s working and what isn’t. And it tells you when to push the pace and when to pull back.
It is, above all, about awareness. The modern world sometimes makes this difficult, with its constant distractions, pressures, demands and expectations.
The bike gives us so many other, different things to focus on. How the legs are feeling, the texture of the road, changes in temperature, an approaching vehicle, a wild creature briefly glimpsed, a new sound from the transmission, a tight bend on a steep descent – all bring us back to the immediate moment.
And when we’re in that present, mindful state, all else fades into the background.”
Mindfulness and athletes who use this practice
Ultra marathoner and seven-time Western States 100 winner Scott Jurek uses mindfulness to monitor how his body responds to food.
Jurek says a plant-based diet has contributed to faster recovery times and better endurance.
But he isn’t the only athlete who uses mindfulness.
Mindfulness and Athletes: The Training Plan
Here’s what to do:
1| Before your workout or race, take a minute to do a quick body check. Anything tight? If so, perform some dynamic stretches to loosen your muscles.
2| Set your intention for the your workout or race. What do you want to accomplish? What’s the purpose and goal of this workout or race?
3| During your workout or race, pay attention to your form. Do you feel any tension? Make sure to lighten your grip on your handlebars, loosen your arm swing, or relax into the water.
4| Find yourself distracted? Choose one thing to focus upon – your cadence, stride, or anything simple that works for you.
5| After your workout, take a moment to breathe, cool down, and let your heart rate settle.
Mindfulness magnifies the benefits you experience from your fitness routine by keeping you relaxed before, during, and after your workout.
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Want more information on mindfulness and athletes? Check out the titles below:
Mindfulness in the Military, American Journal of Psychiatry