Running as Meditation

Why you should ditch the headphones during your runs and meditate instead

Fern Martin
Ascent Publication
Published in
5 min readJan 10, 2020

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Meditation is widely accepted as having huge well-being benefits. The practice of meditating is shown to reduce stress and improve emotional regulation. Ask any runner and they will tell you that runner’s high is real. The benefits of running, or other cardiovascular exercises, has a huge impact on mood as well as general health and well-being. It makes perfect sense to double up and get the benefits of both at once, right?

I only started running about 5 months ago. When I started, I needed my headphones on with the exact right songs to energize me and help me keep going. I never thought I could ever run without music in my ears. It was only as I was signing up for my first trail race a few weeks later that I realized I will have to. When running on trails, especially single track trails, it’s not safe or nice to block out the surrounding environment. There are certain things I may need to hear; someone may need to pass me on the trail, a mountain bike might be behind me, or maybe there is a snaking hissing a warning at me. There may also just simply be another runner passing who will give me some encouragement, and I wouldn’t want to miss out on that!

So I realized I would need to start doing some training without my headphones. At that point, I still found running incredibly hard. The only way I could keep running without music is by taking things one step at the time and set small goals once I felt I was giving up. I would think to myself, ok just keep running another 20 steps. I kept doing that, just another 20 steps and realized that counting the steps was helping me get there. This is when I first realized that running was becoming meditative for me. Counting put me in the moment and made me focus only on the next step.

I felt empowered by the fact that I could run without the support of my music, I was self-energizing now and it felt good!

After a few weeks, I found that I no longer needed to count my steps. Instead, I was either taking in my environment or doing an internal check to see how my body was feeling. If I started to get the just walk for a bit thought, I would check in with my body. How is my breathing? It’s under control, it’s steady, it’s…

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Fern Martin
Ascent Publication

I’m a Software Engineer with a fashion degree and living with Bipolar Disorder. I write about technology, running, and mental health.