Imagine this scenario….You wake up on a warm, sunny morning and roll out of bed to go for your second run of the week. Your legs feel fine as you go to get changed into your favourite running gear. You pour a glass of water and take a couple of minutes to wake up your body as your watch finds its GPS signal. What a beautiful morning for a run!
You start running nice and slowly at first as your legs come to life after their restful snooze. You head out and glide effortlessly along the path, together with other runners performing their morning ritual.
As you run, your mind is relaxed and you think about how far you have come in the last couple of months from the heavy breathing, heavy legs and frustration of not being able to run this exact same route without stopping. Now, your breathing is controlled, your footsteps are light, you feel strong, relaxed and as if you could run like this all day.
You pass another runner going in the same direction, which gives you a real sense of satisfaction. It doesn’t seem like five minutes ago that you were the one puffing away at the back, always being overtaken.
Before you know it, you are pleasantly surprised to find yourself almost back at home and you have plenty of energy left, so you finish with a little sprint down the road to the front of your house. You smile as you look down at your watch and your smile widens as you realise that you have done your regular 5km loop even quicker than you did it three weeks ago. A personal best- what a great way to start the day!
Tell me that wouldn’t be a great start to the day!? I believe that this type of ideal run is possible for each and every one of us, but that journey to effortless running, starts with our breathing. Lack of breath is one of the first things that stops recreational runners from making progress. When we run, our heart rate goes up as does the rate at which we breathe. For beginner runners in particular, this increased heart rate and ‘panting’ can be a very scary feeling. It feels like you are losing control.
This frustratingly, not only stops our run on that day but also stops the momentum in our training. It all feels pretty pointless and seems impossible to move past. It doesn’t have to be that way. There is a solution and it is a simple one. Slow down.
Slowing down is amazing. When I give the runners that I coach, permission to slow down, suddenly things change. They become more in control, they are able to talk and they are able to run further, with way less effort. It’s pretty simple, either you are in control of your breathing or it is in control of you. Slow down, get it under control and start making progress towards that ideal morning run in the sun. At this stage of your running journey, the best thing that you can do is spend time running, no matter how slow that is. That time on your feet and moving forwards will build your confidence and allows you to feel as though you can complete the distance, whether it is 1km, 5km or 10km. The speed and distance will come, but you need to be able to breathe in order to run.
If you want to test yourself on your next run, try talking to a friend as you run. If your breathing is too heavy and fast to talk, then you need to slow down and regain control.
I hope this has been useful and I can’t wait to hear how you are getting on with your preparations for the MDA Run for Strength on February 19th. As always, feel free to email me and ask me coaching questions, I read every email and am happy to help you out!
Recreational Running Coach
Go Run Australia