The magic of breathing was revealed to me a mere month ago. Hitherto, my pull-ups and chin-ups were combined with an unconscious attempt to blow my head off my shoulders by straining during each rep. Then, breathing out proved to be the key relief valve and has helped me improve my abilities on the bar. So too does it improve running. Who knew, right?
Despite my scant running routine of three to four miles for each of the last nine weeks, there has been a clear improvement in speed over the last month. The corollary is obvious. Having remembered the benefit of synchronized breathing while exercising has benefited my performance. My pace over three miles on the Buckeye Trail has dropped by two minutes per mile.
My regimen still consists of timed runs, turning around after 20 minutes (for now). Last night's run on the Buckeye Trail (where else?) started on a steep, stepped incline, gaining 130 feet in less than 0.4 of a mile. During this section, my breathing was strictly two steps in, two steps out.
Once the trail leveled out some, though it continued to climb another 130 feet for the next mile or so, my breathing slowed to three steps in, three steps out (sometimes four). The first half is literally all uphill, and I don't mean "literally" in its newfangled definition, but its literal sense.
The second half definitely helped my overall pace, but breathing right got me to a farther point than in recent runs. Whereas my two previous 40-minute runs were each 2.95 miles, yesterday's run was 3.08. SO MUCH FARTHER!
But when you're dealing with set time limits, those small increments show big results. Hence, two runs ago, my pace was 14:54 per mile, and yesterday's was 12:36.
Moral of the story? Breathe, people.