The biggest dilemma in running is, you try to run faster but your lungs always let you down. Running is a cardiovascular exercise, if you can improve on your breathing and how to get more oxygen into your lungs you are guaranteed to run faster.
Runners World January 2009 Issue had a great article on how you can improve on how you get more oxygen into your lungs by doing a couple of simple exercises.
To quote from the article “Just as we strength-train our hamstrings and calves to improve our ability to power over hills, we can tone the muscles used for breathing. “Exercise improves the conditioning of the diaphragm, the muscle that separates the chest from the abdomen, and the intercostal muscles, which lie between the ribs and enable you to inhale and exhale,” says Everett Murphy, M.D., a runner and pulmonologist at Olathe Medical Center in Olathe, Kansas. “When you take a breath, 80 percent of the work is done by the diaphragm. If you strengthen your diaphragm, you may improve your endurance and be less likely to become fatigued.”
Any exercise that works on your core area such as sit ups will improve the muscles around the diaphragm.
Best breathing method : The mouth or the nose?
The experts interviewed for the article swore by the mouth, the wider is your mouth open while running the better your breathing. I once tried running with my mouth shut and I swear it was horrible.
The chest breathing or the belly breathing.
I was a little bit surprised to learn belly breathing is the recommended method of breathing for runners. When you chest breathe, your shoulders get tense and move up and down. That’s wasted energy-energy you should conserve for running.
My sister she is always asking me what are the best exercise she can do to get a flat stomach. I have recommended my favourite exercise, running but she refused, she wanted an exercise she can do indoors.
I researched around the internet and these were what I found
1. Good old sit ups
2. Bicycle exercise
3. Exercise Ball Crunch
4. Full vertical crunch
5. Plank on elbows and trunk, it won’t trim your tummy but it will give you a strong tummy
Other tips for a flat stomach
1. A good diet, cut on those calories
2. Stay hydrated.
In my Inbox today morning I found the story of Albert Gordon. The twice oldest london marathon runner died in New York aged 107. Now that’s a long time to be alive.
More amazing fact about these veteran of London marathon. At 105, he was still working four days a week at Deltec Asset Management! He made calls to prospective clients well into his 90’s.
According to the New York times story Albert started marathon running in his 80’s.
Albert Gordon Secret To Long life
- Dedication to physical fitness that meant marathon running.
- He took one puff of a cigarette in his life.
- Didn’t salt his food.
- Limited his alcohol intake to a glass of Champagne a year.
- If you can walk? walk. He sometimes walked from the airport to the office.
The biggest question for many runners is how to run faster. We are obsessed with speed, some how we think, if I run faster I will be happier with myself.
A perfect example of a runner who improved her time by one hour is a 81 year old runner.
In 2007 Joy Johnson ran ING New York city Marathon and finished in a time of 7 hours. Not happy with her time, she cranked up on her training and at 2008 NYC marathon she cut her time to 6 hours.
These times might not be impressive to some but it’s good to note Ms. Joy Johnson is a silver haired 81 year old lady, who has refused to grow old.
Talking to a Wallstreet Journal reporter she explained how she amazingly cut her time in one hour in just under one year of training.
Ms. Johnson Marathon Training Plan
- She trained for months, she didn’t say how many but I assume the plural months means many months.
- Through out the summer she ran 50 – 55 miles each week instead of her previous 30 – 35 miles.
- She ran hills. In Paul Tergat’s autobiography his coach says, if a runner stops running hills, he will sooner or later lose his strength.
- While most of us use a track field to do our speed work this lady decided to make use of the grand stand by running up and down the stadium steps. How innovative is that??
- She ran one serious tune up event before NYC marathon. Four weeks before NYC marathon, Ms. Johnson finished the Twin Cities Marathon in six hours, six minutes and 48 seconds. That was for confidence building.
How to increase your speed
It’s clear from Lady Johnson’s training that, if you increase your weekly mileage, change your training methods (stop running flat surface and start running hills) and increase the time spent training you will be guaranteed to improve your times.
Lastly, I loved this sunny lady motto “I want to die running. That’s my goal.
A brief stretching session done regularly will help improve your performance and reduce your risk of injury.
Daily Running Tips For How to stretch safely and avoid injury
- The total routine need not last for more than 15 minutes.
- Stretch according to need, depending on soreness, tightness or the upcoming workout.
- Warm-up for at least 5 minutes with light jogging
- Perform stretches in a controlled and smooth manner.
- Hold each stretch for at least 15-25 seconds
- and the most important thing about stretching, don’t strain, bounce or force a stretch.
Phil Kheogan is the host of my favourite TV show, The Amazing race, I just read that Phil is embarking on a 40 day, 3500 mile bike ride across USA to promote the reality show and help raise money and awareness for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Thats brilliant!!
What food is Phil eating to fuel his “Amazing race”
A 5,000-calorie-per-day diet featuring an afternoon treat he calls a “Philiminator” Shake (a special energy concoction combining whey protein, soy milk, flax seed and peanut butter)
What bike is Phil riding
Phil will be swapping between the Specialized Transition and the Specialized Roubaix. Two classic bikes.
Phil Bike Training Plan :
His coach has emphasised the need of rest to boast performance. On the official website he is quoted saying he made sure Phil trained hard but also he had adequate time for recovery so that he bounced back each week feeling stronger. I call that : Train Hard : Rest and Be strong.
I won’t pray for him to have an easy bike ride but I will pray for him to be strong!!
All action at phil rides across usa.
If speed and performance are not a concern, and you run for fitness, not to compete, avoid Running Watches with all the bells and whistles. Instead, select a CASUAL RUNNING STOP WATCH with these basic features:
- Water resistant (not for swimming but for rainy days!!)
- Scratch resistant
- Illuminated display (for clarity)
- Chronograph (stop watch)
A casual running watch is cheap and is not as expensive as the GPS watches (watches with global positioning system) out there.
A casual running watch will only tell you what time you took from start to finish while the advanced GPS watches can tell you, your pace, calories burned, and distance covered.
So, what are your plans for your 95th birthday? I thought about that question after reading the life story of 95 year old athlete Leland Mcphie.
At last weekend US masters indoor championship Leland Mcphie competing in the weight toss,threw a 35-pound mass nearly 22 feet. It wasn’t a record, but it was good enough to win his age group.
That age group? 95 years and older. His is a story of 78 years athletic career.
According to a story of Leland Mcphie in the San diego tribune,
- Born in Salt Lake City in March 1914, the oldest of nine children
- a self-taught pole vaulter at Colton Union High School from 1929 to 1933.
- At San Bernardino Valley College in 1935, using a bamboo pole, he set a vault record (12-10) that endured until 1961.
- In 1973 he began playing tennis.
- In 1994 he discovered the track out of curiosity. Dressed in tennis clothes and shoes, he tackled the 50-meter dash – and won his first race.
Mcphie training plan
He trains five days a week, he’s either toning muscles on the weight machines at the YMCA or practicing throws and jumps.
“He does a crossword puzzle each day,” McPhie’s granddaughter, Rochelle Michaels, told the Trib. “He has continued to exercise all his life. He has a strong spirit. He’s amazingly inspirational.”
When Nike+Ipod kit was introduced, Time magazine described it as the most elegant of high tech runner’s aids.
How The Nike+Ipod Kit works
The Nike+iPod Sport Kit links an in-shoe transmitter to an iPod Nano-connected receiver, so that all the facts and figures of a workout can be tracked and reviewed.
The kit relays activity from a shoe-based transmitter to a receiver dongle that plugs into the iPod Nano docking connector. (The unit is compatible, at present, with only the Nano versions of the iPod.)
Things that the Nike+Ipod Kit tracks for you
A sensor, transmitting at 2.4 GHz, detects a runner’s cadence, and a set of calibrating procedures makes a range of estimates–including time tracking, distance run, pace and calories burned–available in the iPod.
If you want some real-time feedback, a spoken alert can indicate milestones, such as lap splits or mileage, during the course of a workout. Basically, the Nano now plays host to a virtual trainer. Once your run is done, you can plug in to download the results to iTunes, where you can review performance history. By synchronizing the data on a companion Nike Web site, runners can set objectives and monitor their progress.
What is the weight of the transmitter? very very light, it won’t slow your run.
What are the cause of leg cramps?
Most experts attribute cramps in the calf or other leg muscles to dehydration or fatigue. If you get a cramp, massage the area, and resume running at a slower pace.
If you watched the 2008 Beijing women’s Olympics you might have seen Paula Radcliffe stopping, I guess twice or thrice to stretch and massage her legs. So don’t be afraid to make a stop to give yourself a first aid.
How to prevent leg cramps
To help prevent cramps, drink 250ml of fluid an hour before a run and slow your pace or take more frequent walk breaks from the start of your run.
The best way to prevent leg cramps is experience. The more distance you run in training the stronger your body gets. When your body is strong it takes longer before you get fatigued.
To beat fatigue keep training consistently.