You could argue that this method of tracking our progress is motivating, helping us to see how far that we’ve come and pushing us to do better next time, or to at least beat our neighbors. However, the competitive nature of running (whether competing against ourselves or others) can add unnecessary stress to your exercise routine. Non-attachment, though, offers a solution.
Non-attachment is a mindfulness practice that encourages us to simply let go. Letting go of the outcome of the run, of being controlled by your emotions, and leaving you with a clearer mind and the potential to find more joy during your training.
Setting goals is not discouraged, but with non-attachment, you will be able to know these goals, strive for them, and simultaneously not be emotionally downtrodden should they not be met.
How to practice non-attachment when running:
Don’t Track Your Progress - we’re not saying you have to throw the FitBit you just received for Christmas away, but perhaps don’t wear it for every run. Instead of adjusting your pace according to the progress report that the computerized voice shares with you, listen to your body.
Leave the Headphones at Home - listening to your body can be hard to do if you can’t even hear your thoughts. When we listen to music while running it encourages us to match the pace of songs, rather than our body’s natural rhythm.
Tell No-one - it can be against most of our natural instincts to not share with the world that we’ve completed some exercise, but this act alone can be a powerful way to remove some of the attached stress that can come with the running territory. When you run for yourself and not for the act of beating a personal best or completing more miles than a friend, you’ll likely find that you have more fun with your runs and even make better progress.
Perhaps you have made a goal to run a marathon, or compete in a 10k, that doesn’t mean non-attachment isn’t for you - in fact, it probably means that you may need non-attachment more than most. Removing the most stressful aspects of the training will help you to perform better, and may result in you exceeding your goals.
Next time you head out for a run, try not turning your tracking app on and see how you feel afterward.