5 ways to distract your mind while running

Running is good for you! It produces endorphins, relieves stress and helps you maintain a healthy lifestyle.

For me, the hardest part of running is deciding that I’m going to. Getting off my couch, putting on my tennis shoes and getting outside.

After that, the hardest part is to keep it going.

It’s hard to keep running when the only thing on your mind is ALL. THE. RUNNING.

Instead of your racing heart, your tired feet or your stressed lungs (it’s great for you, I swear!), use these methods to distract your mind.


“Close your eyes, and count to 10” – It’s a cliché, but it’s true. Research conducted at the University of Wisconsin-Madison concluded that counting your breaths is a great way to practice mindfulness.

It’s hard to let your mind wander or worry about future stressors when you’re thinking about which number comes next.

Find the ratio between your counting and your pace. Maybe counting to 10 is the equivalent of 1/10 of a  mile.

This knowledge allows you to track your progress while distracting your mind.

Plan your day (or your week, or your year)

Start thinking about what you’re going to do after this workout, and let your mind go from there.

Plan your activities this week. Plan the vacation you want to take this summer.

To take it a step further, make sure your plan includes SMART goals.

“When I finish this mile, I’m going to go inside and shower. After that, I am going to go to the grocery store. At the grocery store, I am going to get what I need to make pasta for dinner…”

Make a mental to-do list

Think about things you need to accomplish today or this week. Think about your to-do list.

You can go as far as listing things you need to do this month.

Plan, plan, plan until you’re ready to act

“Finish that assignment. Pick up more dog food. Order my prescription…”

Describe something or someone

Maybe you’re describing what you see in front of you: the trees, the paved road, the houses.

If you’re on a treadmill: the machines, the people, the walls.

Maybe you’re forming a description of a loved one: the color of their eyes, the size of their hands, the texture of their hair.

“This road has seven houses on it. They are all a shade of beige. My favorite one is the two-story home at the end of the road with the blue front door.”

Practice diffused thinking

Let your mind wander.

Notice something in front of you that reminds you of something else. Let that something else lead you to remember another thing.

Make connections randomly

“That tree reminds me of the one outside the house I lived in as a kid. We loved the swings that Grandpa hung on that tree until they broke. When I have kids, I want them to have a big tree swing. Maybe I should take my little cousins to the park soon to play on the swings, they love that…”

No matter what you’re thinking of, enjoy the moment. This is YOU time, not for anyone else.

Just you, your tennis shoes, and your (hopefully wandering) mind.

by Marie Davis


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