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The optimal breathing rhythm or rate while running hard is a 2:2 ratio, meaning we inhale for 2 steps and exhale for 2 steps (inhale as you take a step on both your left foot and right foot, then exhale as you take a step on each foot). You may feel like you could take 3-4 steps per each breath on an easy run, that is normal. This rhythm is best used when breathing is elevated during workouts and races. It is good to practice this, however, during easy runs as well as workouts so that when you get to race day, your breathing rate feels more natural and you have a way to control it if you feel overwhelmed. In a race, typically the first 1/2-2/3 of the race can be in a 2:2 ratio, but don’t force it towards the end of the race if you need to take more breaths.
But Coach, how do I breathe properly? First, breathe deeply into your belly. As you inhale think of pushing out your belly button and filling your belly up like a balloon. You should feel air fill up your belly, then expand up into your rib cage, sternum, and back. As you exhale pull in your belly as if you were connecting your belly button to your spine.
1. Lay on your back on a comfortable surface, close your eyes, place one hand 2 inches below your belly button and your other hand on your sternum. Breath down into your belly/gut and try to push up your hand 2 inches below your belly button. Then continue breathing in and try to expand your rib cage and fill the area underneath your other hand. Deeply exhale after this.
2. The cat-cow yoga pose can help mobilize your spine and expand your rib cage and thoracic cavity as you dome your back and breathe deeply into it. Focus on breathing into the space between your shoulder blades when you are in the cat position.
3. Tick-Tocks (not the app!). Stand up, feet close together, with your arms raised above your head and hands clasped and palms facing the sky. Be sure your biceps are close to your ears. Inhale through your nose and lean your arms and upper body to the right side (push your hips to the left). Hold for 1-2 seconds. Exhale and come back to neutral with your hands still clasped above your head. Inhale through your nose and lean to the left side (push your hips to the right). Come back to neutral, then repeat 8-10 times each side. Focus on breathing into your rib cage and expanding your intercostal muscles.
Coach Jack Daniels has done much research on the most efficient number of steps to take each minute and has come up with the gold standard of 180 steps. Everyone has their own unique starting point, and you can figure out what your number is by counting how many steps you take with your right foot over the course of one minute and multiply by 2. Do this on a flat, even surface. Let's say you take 85 steps with your right foot, that is 170 steps total. To increase step count, try shortening your stride on your runs (very slightly). You want to feel like you are stepping lightly and rolling over the ground, as if the ground were covered in egg shells and you don't want to break them! Practice cadence today and during the workout this week. *The song "I'm Still Standing" by Elton John is played at 178 beats per minute, nearly 180. The song Arcadia 180bpm is played at exactly 180 beats per minute. Practice keeping the beat to a song for 1 minute at a time.
It can be challenging to get in training during the holiday season, but do your best to get out the door or on your machine and do something. If you have 15 minutes to run, run for 15 minutes :). If you miss a run, don't stress about it, it's completely ok to skip or shift around the runs every so often so long as training is consistent in general.
My previous coach used to say out of 100 days of training, often 25 days will be great, 25 days will be poor, and 50 days will be ordinary. So if you're running 3 days a week for 16 weeks like in this plan, 12 of your runs may be great, 12 may be poor (I know thats a lot, and thats ok in the grand scheme!) and 24 will be ordinary. Keep this in mind and give yourself permission to adjust training and be OK with it...just not every single week.
1. Exposure to ice baths and cold showers can reduce inflammation which is great for recovery, but can inhibit adaptations for strength and hypertrophy if you are trying to build muscle. Do not ice bath within 6 hours of strength training for hypertrophy. Ice bath or cold shower after endurance training can improve the mitochondrial aspects of endurance exercise (mitochondrial density and respiration). Waiting 6-24 hours between workouts is helpful.
2. Parasympathetic down regulation: After a training session, take 5-20 minutes to sit or lay down with your eyes closed and practice slow, pure nasal breathing, focusing specifically on a long exhale. Zone out! Do this before hopping into your car and going to work :). This accelerates recovery and helps you get back into other forms of work and focus more quickly.
3. Hot epsom salt baths also promote recovery through improved circulation, detoxification and more malleable body tissue that you can self massage while in the bath. Ideally do this 2 hours before bed to allow yourself to cool down before going to sleep.
4. Foam roll or self massage after you run or before you go to bed - foam rolling your back and neck before you go to bed may help you relax.
5. Roll out feet, calves, hip flexors, psoas, glute medius, back muscles, and hard to reach areas like your piriformis with tennis, lacrosse and/or or golf ball.
6. Stay hydrated with water and electrolytes. I use SOS Hydration electrolytes, formulated by doctors and the fastest hydration product on the market.
For the long run this weekend, it's important to bring nutrition and hydration along with you and practice taking these in as you will on race day, if you choose to.
1. Fueling and hydrating during long runs will help you recover significantly faster than had you not consumed anything. I know, you wish I had told you week 1!
2. A general rule for nutrition: consume 100-300 calories per hour (example: consume one 100 calorie packet of Gu, Maurten, Spring Energy or other nutrition every 30, 40 or 60 minutes depending on your needs). Experiment to see what works best.
3. A general rule for hydration: Drink water every 15-20 minutes if you're exercising for more than 1 hour or if conditions are hot, humid, etc. To calculate how much water to drink every 15-20 minutes, divide your body weight (in pounds) by 30. For example: if you weight 150 lbs., divide 150 by 30 and you get 5. So drink 5 ounces of water every 15-20 minutes. It works quite well, but experiment with this as well to see what works best and depending on weather conditions.
The RunSedona courses are at 4,500ft of elevation, which typically impacts our race pace, breathing rate, hydration levels, and how we feel in the later stages of the race.
1. If you are traveling up from sea level, add about 4-5 seconds per mile to your pace on race day, if you are keeping track of pace.
2. It's worth noting, the first 0.5 miles of the course are downhill and then uphill for about 1 mile, so that uphill mile should be even slower than the extra 4-5 seconds. In general, for all of the races, it will be helpful to run the first 1.5 miles conservatively and then maintain or speed up. The nice thing is this means there is a 1 mile *downhill* in the final 1.5 miles of the race. The last 0.5 mile is slightly uphill. Regardless of how many hills you have or have not been able to run during training, the repetition workouts, interval workouts and pace-shifting workouts we have run have prepared you for them! You are ready!