Guest Post: You Must Work Your Mind AND Body

To finish out your last week, I have a few guest posters who want to share their knowledge and experiences with you!  I know you’ll find greater running success because of it! Up first, is Haylee about the importance of balance and meditation for the runner!

Meet Haylee

Hi, my name is Haylee, I am a Nutritionist from Vermont. I went to the University of Vermont for my B.S in Nutrition, moved to San Diego last fall and have completely fallen in love with it here.

I enjoy team sports, hiking, and reading. I am now enrolled in a Reiki Master certification program.

I began practicing daily meditation about a month ago and have come to realize how important it really is to incorporate into my life on a consistent basis. I have always been a runner and had a very “on-the-go” lifestyle. I loved the stress of being extremely productive and looking at my jam-packed day as a successful one.

I never really took the time to care for myself or listen to my body. I eventually came down with a variety of food allergies, many of which were from food I was consuming on a daily basis. I soon became depressed and was no longer myself.

Since I have moved to San Diego in search of a “new lifestyle” I’ve picked up meditation and become a completely new person. I am much more level-minded with less ups and downs. It feels incredible.

Why Meditate?

People often turn away from meditation because they think they have to sit still for an extended period of time without thinking. However, meditation is simply being aware of your body and mind in the present moment. It is extremely important to start with being mindful of your thoughts and feelings; learn how to simply be in your body and in the present moment by working on your breathing.

If you can master calming and understanding your emotions in different situations, then you’ll find that it is much more important than simply sitting still for 10 minutes a day.

  • Practice being mindful on your breath when you are sitting, doing the dishes, driving, at work, running, etc. Notice the length of your breath and consciously say to yourself “I’m breathing in a long breath, I’m breathing out a long breath.”

For instance while running say, “I am running outside,” or “I am running on a treadmill” and notice your body while running. Feel your feet on the ground, the sun on your face, wind or rain on your body. This will bring you into the present moment and your body will be able to communicate with you much more easily.

Basic breathing exercise:

1. Stand or sit erect, with a straight spine.
2. Inhale steadily through the nostrils, filling the lower part of your lungs first. Your abdomen will push out.
3. Fill the middle part of the lungs, pushing out the lower ribs, breastbone and chest.
4. Fill the next highest part of the lungs, expanding and lifting the upper chest, and the upper six or seven pairs of ribs.
5. Draw the abdomen in slightly, to fill the highest part of the lungs.
6. Retain the breath for several seconds. This will allow maximum contact with the alveolar surfaces and result in optimal intake of oxygen.
7. Exhale slowly, holding the chest in a firm position, drawing the abdomen slightly inward and upward. When the air is completely exhaled, relax the chest and abdomen.

The complete breath should be taken in one smooth, continuous motion, taking 2 seconds to inhale and a little longer to exhale. It might help to do this in front of a mirror with your hands on your abdomen so you can see and feel the breath.

Your breath should be light, even, and flowing like a thin stream of water passing through the sand, so quiet that the person next to you cannot hear it.

Benefits of the complete breath:

• Increased calmness
• Reduction of toxins
• Reduction of physical tension
• Enhanced oxygenation of the blood
• Increased consciousness of unconscious acts

Meditation, mindfulness and breath work are complimentary to running and bring balance to the system. It is very important to not only work on the body, but also the mind, creating an understanding of one’s spirit.

Running tends to increase natural stress and adrenaline in the body, leading to fluctuations in energy and mood. Have you ever experienced a “runner’s high” then feel depressed or become more moody when you don’t run?

The body naturally wants to be in balance, so after experiencing a high, it will create a low to bring back homeostasis.

  • After an intense exercise session, I would recommend spending 5-10 minutes laying or sitting and just breathing.
  • Try to calm your mind by focusing on your breath, relax all of your muscles and allow your body to recover.

This will prevent your system from crashing and you will feel more “whole” after your regime.

Meditation allows us to recognize these changes in emotion and how to properly breathe it out, reducing unnecessary excess stress.  Just by belly breathing, you can change so much about how you deal with a situation that you generally don’t have patience for.

“Any action done with awareness is meditation. Meditation means to be fully aware of our actions, thoughts, feelings and emotions. Another name of meditation is passive awareness.”

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2 responses to “Guest Post: You Must Work Your Mind AND Body

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