A fit mind for runners: Five wellbeing rituals to get you to the finish line
Running is as much a mental game as it’s a physical one, particularly when you’re starting out for the first time. It takes determination, self-motivation and drive, so in addition to your physical training routine, it’s important you take steps to keep your overall wellness in check.
Health and Wellbeing Queensland Chief Executive, Dr Robyn Littlewood, shares her advice for maintaining wellbeing while training.
- Increase sleep
When it comes to taking care of our minds, sleep is key. Active adults should be aiming for 7 to 9 hours a night. Striking the right balance of training, rest and sleep can improve your performance, support your wellbeing and even improve your social skills.
The best way to ensure a good sleep is to stick to your sleep schedule and ease into your sleep time as it approaches. Set up your sleep area by removing electronic devices, minimising light and sound, and keeping your bedroom cool. Aim to start getting ready for sleep 30 minutes before bed. Above all else, always wake up at the same time in the morning.
- Reduce screen time
Screen time can be a drain on our wellbeing and the blue light emitted by devices such as TVs, phones, computers and video games can confuse our body clock, disrupt our melatonin levels and over stimulate our brain.
Try switching off your screens or even move them out of your room altogether even just 30 minutes before bedtime will go a long way to supporting your pre-bed routine.
- Make rest days about rest!
Once a love for running really takes hold, it can be addictive. They don’t call it a runner’s high for nothing! But it’s really important to ensure your body is getting enough rest, so that it can recover and perform even better at your next training session.
When you’re on a rest day, it can be tempting to head out for a short run or walk or replace your rest with some other exercise. Resist that temptation and kick up your feet! When your body is ready and rested, you’ll be surprised by how much better you’ll perform.
- Prioritise social connections
Whether you’re a solo runner, stoically jogging lonely miles, or part of a running group, it’s important for your wellbeing to maintain social connections while you’re in training. Not only does it boost your mood, but it has been demonstrated that exercise is socially contagious and a great motivator.
It’s important to maintain social ties, so reach out and share your running updates with your friends and family, or head out on a run with a partner.
- Practice mindfulness
Practicing mindfulness can calm your mind and ground yourself after an intense run. Even just 10 minutes of mindfulness through meditation, listening to music, focused breathing or personal writing, can help reduce stress and anxiety.