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Mindful : February 2018
Reporter Mackenzie Havey’s beat is competi- tive sports, with a focus on running. She’s also a competitive runner herself, and a USA Track & Field- certified coach. The access she has to the influencers in the running world, whose stories and thoughts pepper this easy-to-read and useful book, is impressive. And perhaps it’s not surprising that so many of them, from international Olympians and “ultra marathon man” Dean Karnazes to profes- sors of sports psychology and the engineers who design running shoes, credit mindfulness in large part for their enduring love for the sport. We go inside the minds of athletes like Timothy Olson, who in 2012 at mile 80 of the 100-mile West- ern States Endurance Run shifted into mindfulness: “I focused on each step and every breath even if they were a little worn. I arrived at the point in the race that I live for, the simple moments when you’ve reached down to your core and all you can do is keep running.” He won. While most of the anec- dotes come from profes- sional athletes, they serve as inspiration, not the mes- sage. Havey fully believes that mindfulness can benefit any level of runner, from beginning joggers, to someone training for their first 10K, all the way up through the elite field. She came to mindfulness as a way to manage stress. She studied Mindfulness- Based Stress Reduction and began applying it to her runs. The result? Her stress disappeared, she stopped getting injured, and she actually began to enjoy run- ning more. “Perhaps best of all, many of the calming and focusing effects of my mindful running practice spilled over into the rest of my life,” she writes. “I don’t get so easily pulled in to my own neurotic misad- ventures, ruminating about the past or obsessing about the future. Most runs I’m able to simply focus on my breathing and the rhythm of stride and accept the fact that there will be moments of discomfort and suffering. This has made me a happier and healthier runner, but also a more switched-on human being in general.” Havey also provides a research-backed argument for the “symbiotic pairing” of mindfulness and aerobic exercise, and in particular, running. Rounding out the reporting and anecdotes are how-to mindfulness practices, such as a body scan and how to engage your senses, as well as tips for improving both your performance and your enjoyment of the sport. ● MINDFUL RUNNING How Meditative Running Can Improve Performance and Make You a Happier, More Fulfilled Person Mackenzie L. Havey • Bloomsbury February 2018 mindful 81