Newsday – May 24, 2005 – John Hanc – Heading out for some exercise? Try leaving the headsets behind for a change. You’ll be safer, and you can still get in a great workout. Here are some tips that can help you tune in during your workout without turning on the iPod:

Be sensible: Use all your senses … not just hearing. “Visually, a runner or walker can focus on their surroundings,” says sports psychologist Jack Bowman of Port Jefferson Station. A beautiful day in spring can be a sensual feast. Feel the cool breeze; listen to the waves of the ocean or the chirping of birds. Don’t stop, but do smell those roses.

Exercise your mind: “Review what is working well in your life and what you would like to change,” says sports psychologist Dr. John F. Murray of West Palm Beach, Fla. “Be specific and set goals. Come up with new ideas and refine them. Invent something. Solve one or two problems.” And if all that is giving you a headache, he says, “just unwind, enjoy the process and get your body in tune with nature.”

Tune in to your own channel: Technical race director David Katz has met a lot of elite runners in his years working at the Long Island and New York City marathons. He’s learned something about mental endurance. “The really good runners tune into themselves,” Katz said. That is, instead of “disassociating” themselves from the activity through music or other distractions, they monitor their bodies during performance, tuning into the rhythm of their own breathing, heart-rate, foot strike. You can do the same no matter what your activity or proficiency.

Dr. John F. Murray is a sports psychologist and clinical psychologist providing sports psychology and counseling services based in Palm Beach, Florida.