How to Make Your Run a Meditation in Motion

Leave the smartphone at home and hit the trails, road, or sand with nothing to focus on but putting one foot in front of the other, taking one breath after the next—your whole body in communion with nature and movement. Try these techniques to turn your run into a meditation in motion.

Synchronize the breath with your footfalls. This is a great anchor for the mind. Try inhaling for four steps and exhaling for four steps; as other thoughts start to come into your mind, bring your attention back to the breath and the footfalls.

Count your steps. Pick a number—say eight—and count up to eight with eight footfalls, and down from eight with eight more footfalls. As you focus on counting, the mind will naturally land in a meditative state and begin to let go of whatever unfinished business you left behind when you laced up.

Use the five senses. Bring your attention to the sense of sight—noticing the colors of the landscape, maybe looking for all the shades of green or blue you can find. Activate the sense of hearing: Listen for the farthest sound, then the closest sound, then all the sounds in between. Feel the wind or sun on your skin; tune in to the scents in the air.

Finish a sentence. Try completing a sentence like “I am aware of ...” or “I notice …” For instance: “I notice a tree that is blooming; I notice a child playing; I notice I am sweating; I notice my heartbeat…” You might notice the same things repeatedly—that’s okay!

Meditation is not the cessation of thoughts, but simply noticing and being present with them as they arise and then fall away. Every run is a chance to be in communion with yourself and your surroundings.

Sarajean Rudman received a bachelor’s in health and wellness and sports management, and a master’s in integrative clinical nutrition. She has more than a decade of experience in personal training and group fitness.

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