Tuesday, 18 August 2015

On 15:08 by Victoria Stanham in ,    2 comments
Post originally published at www.joy4running.wordpress.com

Written by Victoria Stanham
Most of my non-running friends’ response to “Why don’t you run?” is something along the lines of, “I love the idea of running… I just hate the actual running itself.”
If we are all born with the necessary hardware and software for the task... why is running pleasurable only to a gifted few? Does it have to be this way? Can something be done about it?
I believe it can... and I have this great idea to share with you.
Just for clarity's sake, I’m not going to teach you how to go “from couch to 5k”, nor give advice on what shoes to buy, nor what training plan to follow, nor what to eat before a run. All these topics have already been exhaustively covered in other running-related blogs out there.
My focus here is not so much on the “externals” of running as in the “internals”. What you’ll get from me is ideas on how to manage your breath, body and mind so that they stop fighting each other and start cooperating during your runs.
What for?
Sheer running-bliss. No more, no less.
So what’s my running-mojo all about?
1.     Awareness and Use of Breath. Enjoyment of running is almost equivalent to your enjoyment of breathing. Do you enjoy breathing? Do you like how you breathe? Do you enjoy breathing even when your heart-rate speeds up? Or does it suddenly get all painful and out of control?
2.     Awareness and Use of Mental Processes.Out of control breath equals out of control mind… and vice-versa. Where does your mind wander off to when you run? Is this what your train of thought looks like? Most exhaustion is rooted in the out-of-control wandering mind; once you learn to bring it home to rest, more energy becomes available to you.
3.     Awareness and Use of Body Mechanics. The body is the resting place for both breath and mind. But, if pain and strain also reside there, you can’t blame breath and mind to try and go wandering somewhere else. To master the biomechanics of running, body awareness has to come first and excess effort must be let go.
Every complaint I’ve ever heard about running from would-be runners can be traced back to the downward spiral of a poor breathing pattern, fuelling an out-of-control mind, which engenders poor body-mechanics, which in turn hinders the breath, which exacerbates the mind, which tenses the body... ad infinitum.
The saddest part is we are not even aware that this is going on, we’re only aware of the discomfort and pain it causes to a specific part of us. So before you decide to tinker with your breathing pattern or your body-mechanics: STOP! You can’t change what you don’t know is there.
My first tip is this: Invest in heightening your awareness of body, mind and breath. Above all, become aware of how these 3 aspects are intimately related.
In future posts I’ll share some of the exercises that have helped me enhance my own awareness of these three areas and their interrelatedness. If you don't want to miss them, just register your email to receive notifications of new posts directly in your inbox.
Happy Running!


  1. Excellent post, especially about the breathing. I find that if I lose control of my breathing then a kind of panic sets in. Which means it's time to slow down.

    1. You are right on Robin. The out-of control breathing sets all the panic alarms going in the brain and the body. There is a precise physiological explanation for this, but I would need to dig out my physiology books to give you the exact data. After I recognized that reaction while running, I started to become aware of it when not running, and just becoming stressed about some personal issue: same panic reaction, though not as evident from the outside. Best part is the same principles applied to subdue that reaction too!