16 June 2015


Long-distance running ability may be signal of desirable male genes, said Runner's World recently, which is of historical interest only to me - perhaps, in a small way, I demonstrate that the thesis is correct: at least I don't disprove it. The same source (reading it is a great substitute for running!) explained to me that one's breathing pattern can have a significant influence on running injuries, a matter of much more than historical interest to me. In fact I am sure I have read this before, tried with little success to apply it once in a Parkrun and then forgotten about it again. The technique, which also involves the use of the diaphragm for breathing in a manner rather alien to most runners, who rely (too much) on chest muscles, requires one to breathe in for three steps and out for two, so that the breathing cycle does not coincide every time with putting one's weight on the same foot. It spreads the load, which seems to me to make sense: the points in the cycle of breathing when one changes from in to out or the other way round places a significant load on the body especially when you're running (and therefore breathing) hard.

Three in and two out also means you're taking in a lot more oxygen than you would if you were less organised and did two in and two out, which I think is my default setting. I've already found that I felt stronger and less tired when using the new technique. So today I set out deliberately and carefully to train myself to breathe out of sequence. I've done it for a few laps of the playing field, although I found my concentration was fairly easily broken (nothing new there), but I thought it would be real progress if I could do it for my regular nearly seven mile loop.

In fact, for anyone looking for technical tips (as if this is the place for that, or I'm the person to ask!) I find it much easier to count one-two, one-two-three than the other way round, for some reason. So I start by breathing out. I also try counting in foreign languages, and then it's more useful to count in fives especially because it's around 4 that my counting in German or Russian always goes awry - but trying to fit in the three syllables of четыре when I get to "four" makes it all fall apart. Try to do no more than one daft thing at a time.

Moreover, it was a lovely day. When we set out (about 0815) it was still cool: by the time we were halfway round it was heating up and I was regretting not having sunglasses. I didn't want to push the pace, because there is nothing worse than picking up after a hiatus and finding it impossible to descend stairs afterwards, but the pace will come with time. Runner's World also recently offered some useful advice on lessons from running for one's working life: there were five, and I think I can remember a couple - one being the importance of learning endurance, which is what I was doing today, and another being about setting goals, which is something else I think I have done today. In addition, that is, to the hopelessly unrealistic goal of a sub-20 5K later this year, which despite the hopeless unrealism I am going to try my best to achieve.

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