Monday, July 5, 2010

Just Breathe...

Other than having legs (or prosthetics) the most important thing about running is Breathing

This is the Main reason why people think running is difficult. It's nothing to do with your legs. You walk miles each day. It is all about your Breath which is why you feel tired and fatigued when you run. 

How hard is it to breathe? We do it all the time without even trying. But it isn't that simple. 

During day to day breathing, we don't breathe with the full capacity of our lungs, (more like 2/3s).  
So while we run, we need to train our bodies to take deep, full breaths so our body can have the maximum about of oxygen to fuel our body. It takes a bit of getting used to and will feel very unnatural at first. 

Everyday, there is increasingly more research regarding VO2 max
  • The maximum capacity your body can transport and utilize oxygen during exercise. 
  • V - volume per time, O2 - oxygen, max - maximum
Your ability to improve your VO2 max can greatly improve your level of physical fitness. 

*How to Control Your Breathing*
  1. Take deep full breaths, (expand your lungs and your belly) while you breath. (tips on belly breathing)
  2. Cadence - 
    1. Breath in through your nose slowly as you count your steps, aim for 3 steps in, (some people argue nose vrs mouth - I prefer Nose because it's almost impossible to Suck in air through your nose)
    2. Breath out through your mouth slowly (3 steps out). (you can control the opening of your mouth to make sure you breath out slowly)
    3. You may only be able to start with breathing, 2-2, (2 steps in and 2 steps out), its ok, as time progresses your VO2 max will improve, aim to increase to 3-3, 4-4, etc. 
  3. Don't hold your breath. Often times we breath in quickly when we take our first step and then HOLD our breath for step 2&3, Then we quickly PUSH all the air out at step 4, and then HOLD our breaths during step 5&6. 
    1. You waste more energy doing this. Since the lungs have to work A lot harder to Suck in and Push out the air so quickly. You want to have a very fluid motion of your body and lungs, where the body has a constant supply for fresh oxygen (by breathing in slowly). 
  4. If your gasping for air every step, you're pushing your body too fast or to hard. Slow down, and relax. You can take quicker, smaller strides, and still cover the same distance in the same amount of time, without exhausting yourself. Your rhythmic breathing should be very quiet, gentle and smooth. 

When I first started training, for years, I couldn't push past the 5 mile mark, I was gasping and sucking in air, breathing hard, in and out through my mouth. People running next to me always stopped to ask if I was OK, because my breathing sounded like I was having an asthma attack. That was how I always ran, and "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" mentality. I was WRONG. 

Cycling is what really helped me control my breath. My Spin instructor would say, "Breath in, Breath out", If I didn't, I would pass out during Spinning Class. I took this new technique to the road and saw how quickly my running improved! It was SO EASY to push past 5 miles onto 10, 15, 20+ miles. It sounds silly or impossible, but it isn't, This is SO do-able.

Once you control your breath, everything else is just mechanical. Your body will run, and you wont even feel it going. 

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