Learning a step by step mindful running program is the most reliable way to become a mindful runner. In spinorunning.com we call this periodic sequencing, which means particular mind/body running exercises are best done in a specific order. This is important because a person won’t receive, the maximum benefit from using mind/body training when the order of application is not followed

Initially the mind/body has to experience a level of relaxation, and this is accomplished through meditation and by progressive relaxation exercises after running.  Sequentially the next steps are to begin small increments of mental application into your running. We use a technique called ‘soft eyes’ (a way of looking within and out at the same time) and visualize, for instance, being pulled towards an object or thinking of a large hand coming out of the sky that pushes you along. Following the run, use a technique called ‘wipe away”. This is best accomplished by wiping the imagery away by counting across your eyes from 5 to one. This exercise allows the mind to know the difference between being “in” and “out” of the visualization, and a sense of how this feels in your mind/body.

Once you have a relative observation of your mind/body connection it is time to move into more complex mental exercises such as guided imagery and visualization. These are done in two ways; either delivered to the user with gaps that are filled in by the user or as a story line directly provided. These can be internal or external, seeing from inside yourself or imagining being observed from outside and moving towards a camera or such. For instance, there are some visualizations such as picturing in your mind’s eye a particular distance and speed, that you wish to run. Different internal vs external images are for particular genders. Research has shown that women prefer external imagery as internal tends to make a women self-conscious

Eventually the most significant imagery for most is event rehearsal. This is a guided imagery in which a whole race is visualized from beginning to the end. It can actually be done at the beginning of the day so as not to have any undue stress leading up to a significant event.  For an important event, it should be done for several day, as many as 10 days before the event. I have done this exercise with many of my cross country teams that went on to win national championships, and it is so effective that runners have reported that the finish went exactly as visualized and it was astonishing to them.