The mind and body need to work together in sport, says Graham Doke

Graham Doke is founder of the Anamaya app – a revolutionary new meditation programme founded on 20 years of rigorous scientific research and featuring more than 350 meditations, exploring 11 different focus areas including sport.

During his time working in the health and wellbeing sector, he has been fortunate enough to work with some top runners, including gold medallists at Commonwealth level and a number of world record-holders. In the ultra-running world, he has helped prepare runners for legendary races, including the Tour de Geants, Ultra Tour de Mont Blanc, Western States, Sakura Michi and Coast to Kosci.

Doke is a strong believer that the mind is central, critical and essential to a runner’s success. A runner who wishes to perform at their peak must have a focused determination and an unwavering eye on the goal. Distractions can and will detract from performance. The body can run, as it is designed to. But to test your body’s absolute limits in running requires training. This is also true of the mind. The mind can think, but the ability to think in a disciplined manner requires training.

The founder of the app says: “You spend so much time training your body – you put in the hard hours, make the sacrifices and take the pain. This requires single-mindedness and dedication, determination and discipline. When you are competing, you push your body hard and go beyond the pain. You will hold your goal in mind and go after what you know is attainable without letting any obstacle stop you.”

Doke is a strong believer that the mind is central, critical and essential to a runner’s success

As single-mindedness, dedication, determination and discipline are all attributes of the mind, it is clear that success comes as much from the mind as it does from the body. So why do runners often fail to participate in mind training?

Doke explains: “In my experience, the problem lies with the fact that at first glance, the runner and the meditator may appear at opposite extremes. One pounds the pavement or hops the rocks on a trail for mile after mile, while the other sits and makes a study of doing nothing. However, it’s important to remember that first appearances are deceiving. The runners that I have worked with successfully are those that realise that their minds play an important role in their success. They understand that the mind is not only important to the recordbreakers, the medal-winners – but it is also important to anyone who wishes to succeed to their peak.

“The definition of an elite athlete is anyone who gives their best on the day – whether their best is a podium or a record, or a place in the pack, having pushed themselves to their own targets and done it well. Many people ask me ‘but, what do they think about?’ Now, there are lots of techniques and lots of visualisations to help, but the bottom line is it is not all that important what you think about. The two rules are: no negative thoughts, and whatever you think about, concentrate on it. Make it ‘your’ thought. This is focus and the essence of meditation for a runner – thoughts that are as focused and disciplined as the running.”

If you’re looking to mentally prepare for an upcoming race or challenge, you could begin training your mind and learn the art of meditation using the guided meditations on the Anamaya app. Meditation is great for relaxing after training, or for calming the nerves and gathering focus prior to competition.

Running may seem far from meditation, but meditation is a key to top performance.

» Read more about the app and download it free at anamaya.co