Wednesday, January 21, 2015

UCSD Center for Mindfulness mPEAK program

Improving Athletic Performance through Mindfulness - 

UCSD's mPEAK Program

by Kathleen Lisson

meditation class for athletes
Shoes AND a meditation cushion - the new tools of running?

I am very fortunate to live in San Diego - I am able to attend the first public session of the UCSD Center for Mindfulness mPEAK program.

Our facilitators are Pete Kirchmer of Mindfulness Based Health, Lucas LeardMann and Lori Haase. My fellow students include an Ironman triathlete, a sports coach, a BMX cyclist, a physical therapist, a baseball player in a local Senior / Masters league, a surfer and several yoga enthusiasts. Some of us have practiced meditation before, and it is quite new for others.

The program is modeled closely to one that helped the USA Olympic BMX cycling team. According to the UCnet article 'Mindfulness training program may help Olympic athletes reach peak performance,' "the first group of athletes to complete a mindfulness training program developed at UC San Diego won first, second and third place at the 2014 USA Cycling Elite BMX National Championships."

The eight week program meets on Tuesday nights for two and a half hours, and participants are encouraged to meditate for an hour every day. During the meetings we experience meditation and different mental and movement exercises designed to let us explore the effects of mindfulness on physical performance. Instead of a classroom environment complete with lecture and handouts, our meetings focus on each participant experiencing mindfulness in new ways and gathering knowlege from those experiences.

I look forward to posting my reactions to the class on my blog. I want to give myself a few weeks to let the training sink in and reveal its benefits. If you would like a taste of what the daily meditation practice is like, here is a link to the audio files for our body scan meditation as well as other guided meditations: Guided Audio Files to Practice Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction.

I would like to thank Alex Hutchinson of Sweat Science for writing the Runner's World article 'Mindfulness for Athletes' that piqued my interest in the mPEAK program. Follow Alex on Twitter here:

I will admit, I signed up for the class wanting to know what those BMX athletes learned to improve their performance. I am now far more interested in the effects of mindfulness training in my own athletic performance!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Should I Start Running?

Tips for Future Runners - How to Find Out if You Will Like Running

The Finish Line is a great place to find out if you are inspired by running

by Kathleen Lisson

So, you want to be a runner.

Maybe you want to start running to improve your fitness, support a charity or spend time with a loved one. 

Before you invest time and money, what is one quick way to know if you are 'a real runner?'

My tip for exploring whether taking up running would be an inspiring choice is to volunteer at a local race. Before committing to lacing up your own running shoes, find the website of your local running club - the San Diego Track Club is here in San Diego - and inquire about volunteer opportunities. 

Many local 5K races benefit charities and serving as a guide along the course or helping athletes at the finish line will give prospective runners a front row seat to the different ways that running makes a difference in people's lives. 

  • The first few finishers are competing at their top form and pouring their hearts out to put on a good performance. 
  • The middle of the pack runners are striving to achieve personal goals and balancing the love of running with busy lives. 
  • Some of the most heartwarming stories are at the back of the pack - runners finishing their first races with friends to cheer them on and non-athletes who have taken on the challenge of training to support a charity or honor a loved one. 

Experiencing the passion of other runners can inspire potential athletes to take on the rewarding challenge of training for their own race. 

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