Application to Running
My Personal Strategies
There are four main things that I am mindful of in order to gauge my body's response to training: subjective heaviness of legs, motivation to get out the door, how winded I am when I climb stairs, and the speed of my first mile.
1. Subjective heaviness of legs. This one is hard to put into words, but this much I know: if I'm barely able to keep both feet off the ground at the same time, then I'm better off resting than putting in miles that day. Running at that point is only going to break me down further. Tired legs are fine. Having a visceral reaction to the suggestion of high-knees is not.
2. Motivation to get out the door. My daily drive to get out the door for a run ranges from "can't wait to beat all those suckers in the Inner Harbor" to "let's get this over with so I can eat." If it's taking me more than 20 minutes to get dressed and out the door for a run, I know something is off. I know myself, and I know that I'm not a slacker. If I'm having a really hard time motivating myself to go running, then I know my body needs rest more than activity. I'm better off taking the day off or cross-training. Your own personal barometer for motivation level will vary. Know yourself, know what your body is trying to tell you.
3. How winded I am when I climb stairs. I am always attuned to my body's response to stairs. When I'm fit and tapered, I take them two at a time without giving it a second thought. If I'm anemic or overtrained I may pause between flights. This is useful feedback from my body.
4. The speed of my first mile. I always end up going the same pace at the end of my maintenance runs, but how many miles it takes me to settle into that pace is a different story. My first mile is almost always the slowest, usually ~20 seconds slower than my average. Perhaps this is partially an artifact of my GPS watch, but it doesn't really matter since it seems to be reliable. If my first mile is more than 30-40 seconds slower than my average, I might make adjustments to my training to ensure that I'm getting enough rest. Again, it's all about finding your own baseline and observing deviations.
These are some of my personal strategies for achieving mindful running. I hope to share more as they come to mind and hope others share theirs with me. While it is kind of a nebulous, squishy concept, mindfulness does make a lot of sense.