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Let’s talk about running cautiously, mindfully, and positively. Why is this so important? A positive mental attitude can make a big difference training in winter with challenges such as cold, wind, snow, ice, sleet, and slippery dangerous conditions for runners. We have to try to look on the bright side of some dark situations to not lose hope and to keep our positive momentum going. As someone who has slipped and fallen and been injured recently due to icy conditions, I hope to be able to prevent some injuries by writing about this.

What does it mean to run mindfully? We should have a heightened sense of awareness for dangerous conditions/any hazard that could cause us to slip and fall. Just as when we are driving, being aware of any potential hazards to prevent an accident, we must have this type of caution when we are running as well. We need to be able to see where our feet will land. So if that means we need to wear a headlamp, then do it. If you are wearing reflective gear, shoes, and/or Yaktrax, the headlamp will further illuminate your feet/legs/body so that others can see you easily.

What else can cause us to slip and fall? Branches, debris, garbage, rocks, and the one we all forget about, irregular pitches/gaps in the sidewalk (I try to memorize all the sidewalk spots, some have been marked by neighbors/the city with pink spray paint).

We can take adequate precautions to prevent many injuries running in snow and ice outside: one is to run inside and/or cross-train instead. Personally, I prefer to wear Yaktrax on my shoes when I run to prevent injuries. Why? Yaktrax has solid spikes on the top, good spring coils on the heel, and impressively reflective velcro for the top front part of your shoes. Yaktrax are worth the extra money. The imitators/knockoffs only serve as temporary rubber bands/slingshots which can be displaced by any weed or plant you encounter, causing you to slip, fall, and possibly be injured.

Try to periodically ask yourself: are the weather conditions still safe to run outside? If not, shorten your workout and run inside and/or cross-train or just move those miles you missed to a different day. Or skip them entirely if you feel you need more rest. It’s important to listen to our bodies when they tell us to rest.

So how can we engage to be more present, more mindful when we run? Try to find things in nature that draw your attention. For example, is the sun shining visibly? If so, celebrate! It’s a rare winter occurrence sometimes. Is the snow melting? Celebrate that, running in slush is easier than running on ice. Look for amazing cloud patterns, starlight, the moon. Find animals on your path, including deer, foxes, quail, dogs, cats, birds, and other animals common in your area. Try to identify which animals left which tracks when you run. Or try to identify which running shoes runners ran in whose tracks are visible in the snow or sand. Try to imagine where those animals and/or runners ran/walked and what their stories are. Use your imagination! It’s a creative experience, running in nature. It fills our soul with peace, serenity, joy, and happiness. Running bliss: it’s real! Those endorphins give us a mood-boosting energy burst. Use those bursts wisely. Then run again.

Other ideas for running mindfully: connect with objects like flags on a golf course (see below for pictures from the 18th hole of Wilderness Ridge in Lincoln). You can play capture the flag! (Virtually not actually. You can snap a photo with the flags if you like.) If you see something amazing on your run that will make someone smile or happy, snap a photo of it and share it on Twitter, Instagram, and the like. Make a running kaleidoscope with your best pictures of the day or experience to share with others.

Why is running mindfully so important? Because it helps us restore our sense of self, increases our energy, and empowers us to live with a greater, stronger sense of meaning and purpose. It relaxes us. When conditions are more favorable for running, we can connect with trees, scenery, and nature more directly and perhaps not focused on obstacles such as snow and ice as much. If we are running mindfully, we can create an enhanced running groove that is aligned with our personal flow state where we are running effortlessly with a quiet, peaceful mind that can capture creative ideas and thoughts as they occur.

Don’t force your runs so much in the winter. In winter, we must be more flexible for our own personal safety.

When you run, find your flow, capture and harness it, and utilize it to your advantage.

Wishing you mindfully soul-satisfying and positive runs with caution for the conditions,
Jeremy (RunningGrooveShark)