Tuesday, August 5, 2014
"The nose is for breathing, the mouth is for eating."
So still no word on Christina, better known as The Athletarian, but I am confident that something might come out of this. Why am I confident?? Okay, so maybe I just mean extremely hopeful. It would be so awesome to interview her, but if that doesn't work out then I shall not be discouraged!
I just want to comment on how awesome swimming has been for my cross-training efforts. Of the three triathlon sports, swimming was by far my least favorite, but I have to think that biking has taken that position when it comes to training. Every time I go back to swimming in a pool I am reminded of the pleasure of working on cardio while working out other muscles and not constantly pounding muscles and joints like I do when I run (although I never think of running like this!).
It is so important to do other types of exercises to strengthen other muscles that are not used during your activity of choice. If you can't or don't like to swim, try biking or playing some tennis, perhaps. And don't forget to perform strength training no matter the sport or activity you engage in. Strength training is vital for bone health and improves overall fitness.
So I told Val about a couple weeks ago that I wanted to return medium runs at quicker paces back into my running regimen. Back when I was training for Tesla Hertz 50 mile ultra, I had back-to-back long runs and every Tuesday or Wednesday was a 9-12 mile run at a decent pace---and I loved these runs. So given that all of the salads, blueberries, tart cherry juice concentrate have me feeling almost completely recovered, I decided to run one of the runs today.
I got in 9 miles with miles 1 & 9 as cool-down and warm-up miles. The 7 miles were probably at an average of 7:05 pace which wasn't necessarily easy to do given the fact that it was approx. 86 degrees outside and my body is technically still recovering from the Montour 6 hour race 10 days ago. But I have to give some credit to what I could call a successful run to something I think I have gotten pretty good at after two years of focusing on it: my breathing.
The start of this 2 year time period I mentioned is marked by my reading of Scott Jurek's Eat & Run. In this book, on page 108 to be exact, the legendary ultrarunner recalls what a yogi said in a class he attended: "the nose is for breathing, the mouth is for eating."
Ever since I read this sentence, I haven't been able to shake its message. I immediately began training my body to get used to breathing in through my nose. Given that it's very important for ultrarunners to master the art of eating and breathing at the same time, I was also forced to really hone on this skill, but I'd like to think that I would have honed this skill had I not pursued ultramarathon running.
The conversation around breathing is convoluted with terms such as 3-2 pattern or 2-1 pattern which refers to inhaling and exhaling when your foot on a particular side of the body is landing. Truthfully, I didn't have the patience to read through all the articles and try to understand them quite frankly because I believe that breathing nasally adjusts your breathing to a more appropriate and slower rate which allows you to run easy-moderate runs easier and longer.
I'm not expert, though. And I still catch myself breathing through my mouth when my pace picks up or when I look focus on my run. It is important to be able to catch yourself and refocus your energies to your running economy. For me, and for today, that included refocusing my breathing back to nasal breathing. I immediately felt the difference. My body became re-centered and I felt a small resurgence of energy which began to wane as I began to breathe through my mouth.
Think I'm full of it? Well, I don't. Try nasal breathing for yourself. Start by focusing on 2 options:
1) Breathe in through your nose, out through your mouth OR
2) Breathe in AND out solely through your nose.
Do one of these on an easy to moderate run and see if you feel any improvement in your energy levels. My bet is that you do because when you breathe efficiently, you allow more oxygen to get pumped to your muscles which sustains their ability to keep up the performance. Efficient breathing is also linked to improved brain activity so you're now thinking more clearly and more aware of your surroundings when you are breathing efficiently versus when you are not.
When you have been doing this for a couple weeks, perhaps you are ready to try nasal breathing on a slightly harder run. When your heart rate is at a very high level it becomes necessary to breathe in more quickly which usually involves breathing in and out solely through the mouth, but you can train your body/muscles to be satisfied with the amount of oxygen from at least 80% effort of nasal breathing (occasional deep breaths through the mouth).
So, just try it! I hope this little bit of advice helps out. Please feel free to Google and read through credible articles on breathing.
I will not be posting articles/sources in this post because this information was largely a compounding of various articles/conversations that I've come across over the years as well as my personal experience trying to perfect my breathing to allow me to complete ultras one day to much faster mile repeats on another day.
Last thing before I post:
This is happening. This weekend. The Seed .
If you are free or in the NYC area, please check this out! Oh and Scott Jurek will be there so maybe you can ask him personally about this whole breathing nonsense!
From their website: The Seed invites the vegan-curious, vegan-skeptical, and vegan choir to explore what we have to offer today. You’ll gain understanding of the endless benefits of a compassionate, healthful, and earth-conscious existence of the vegan & plant-based lifestyle.
That's all for tonight!
Happy Running...or whatever else you prefer to do!