“Running is the greatest metaphor for life, because you get out of it what you put into it.”
- Oprah Winfrey
As the weather warms, running season begins. Exercise is a great way to shake off the daily stress of life, but whether you’re tackling a couch-to-5K or a full marathon, physical and mental stress can affect your performance in more ways than you think. We’re sharing our de-stressing tips to help you make the most of your exercise, and feel your very best for the big race.
Start a regular routine
Regular exercise is one of the best ways to relieve stress, so if you’re going to start running, best make it a recurring diary entry. Studies show that running is a great long-term mood stabilizer and stress reliever, and those who carry out a consistent running routine throughout their week are less reactive to daily stress.
According to research from the International Journal of Stress Management, those who exercise experience less anxiety and show a reduced heart rate and blood pressure when faced with a stressful situation.
Meditate to focus
Long sessions of exercise, such as running a marathon, require just as much mental focus as they do physical preparation, that’s why professional athletes invest in their mindset training to achieve success.
An effective way to train your brain alongside your muscles is to start a regular meditation practice alongside your exercise. Meditation can help improve a runner’s endurance, breathing technique, concentration, and ultimately stress management. Spend just 5 minutes clearing your mind before a run to focus on what you want to achieve.
Eat to optimise performance
Eating the right foods before a run not only helps to prepare your body for the task ahead, it ensures that your mind and body are working in sync to achieve the overall goal. A sluggish, tired or sore body will quickly tell your mind that you want to quit early, but eating to encourage optimum performance can help avoid this.
Things like protein and carb-rich meals the day before your marathon will help you store the nutrition you need to make it through the big race.
Make use of motivational music
It’s incredible how much music can affect our motivation, especially while running, simply by finding the genre we like, the lyrics that speak to us, the beat that helps regulate our pace and the general ‘feel’ that can boost our energy levels.
Before and during your run, make use of music playlists that can help you to de-stress and focus your energy. Check out apps like Spotify and YouTube for ready-made running playlists designed to keep your energy up and your mind focused throughout your race.
Hydrate before you run
It’s easy to underestimate how much hydration we need before any exercise, let alone before an intense session like a marathon run. Getting enough hydration before you even begin is so important, and experts recommend drinking somewhere between 16 and 24 ounces of water a few hours before a run, followed by around 4 ounces every 15 minutes during.
Nothing will increase your stress more than if you suddenly feel dehydrated on mile 1 of a 26.2 mile run, so be sure to drink enough before you start.
Stop. Inhale. Sprint.
It’s no surprise that one of the best things we’ve found for relaxing, both before and after a run, is essential oils. The de-stressing and energising properties of the essential oils we use in our award-winning products make them an ideal part of your pre-run ritual. Essential oils can affect the body either by absorption through the skin, or by inhalation, and we blend the perfect combination of oils for whatever your mind and body need:
Zesty notes of Lemon Myrtle, Spearmint and Aniseed in our Be Happy balm help boost your positivity and energy while tackling a long run.
Calming Lavender, Chamomile and Palmarosa in our Sleep Well balm encourage a good night’s rest before a big race.
A crisp blend of Rosemary Leaf, Clary Sage, and Spearmint in our Focus balm help you concentrate and channel your energy.
- Floral scents of Jasmine and Mimosa, as well as the grounding Cedarwood base in our De-Stress balm help relax and calm you before and after exercise.
Find what works for you
Everyone’s exercise experience is personal and unique, and while one person might meditate and stretch before running to rid themselves of stress, others might find that jumping up and down to a loud rock song puts them in the zone. The above suggestions are a great way to begin if you have never considered how to de-stress before a race, but don’t be afraid to experiment!
Try out what foods, muscle stretches, music playlists, essential oils, and other pre-race rituals work for you by keeping a journal, so you can rule out what doesn’t work and pinpoint what does.
If you want to discover the best de-stressing methods that work for you, check out our blog on designing your personal de-stress ritual.