2013 became The Year Brittanie Quit Running. (I got into other things.) 2014 is now becoming the year Brittanie Tries to Get Back Into Running. I miss it so, so much, because running is one of the things that makes me feel most at home in my body and my brain. When I’m running regularly and I skip a day or two I get CRANKY. I love being sweaty and I love that worn-out exhausted feeling in my chest and legs that only running can give me.
When I first started running 10+ years ago, I HATED it. I did it “for fitness” and it took a couple of years before that transitioned to the feelings I write about above. One of the things that helped me most as a beginning runner was a book called The Complete Book Of Running For Women.
Another thing that helped was my first experience with runner’s high. I think runner’s high is different for everyone, but here’s what it’s like for me: a sort of trance, and a cloudy-headed feeling not unlike that way I feel after meditation. A lot of the times, I can actually feel runner’s high starting to set in. It happens when my pace and my breathing become perfectly in sync, allowing me to detach from my body for a while. When I get runner’s high, I’ll often look at my watch afterwards and what will have felt like five minutes has actually turned into a three-mile run.
Part of what helps me get into runner’s high is a tip I read in the Complete Book of Running, regarding what swimmers call bilateral breathing. The book advocates breathing at a ratio of 3:2 — that is, inhaling for three steps and exhaling for two steps. This type of breathing has numerous benefits:
During running, you hit the ground with the greatest force at the beginning of exhalation. If you inhale and exhale on an even number of footsteps — 2:2 for example — you will end up always striking the ground with the same foot at the beginning of each exhale. This means one side of your body will experience greater impact stress during running than the other. Experts believe this is one of the reasons runners often develop injuries on the same side of the body each time.
Bilateral breathing also has a greater value for me. Counting my breath allows me to focus on it. Just like meditation. And when my mind is focused on breathing correctly, it’s harder for my ego to engage in negative talk with me. Counting my breath means I’m not focusing on how tired my legs are, or how I just want to walk for a little bit, or how sweaty and hot I am. And that’s why bilateral breathing is my favorite running tip.
Speaking of which… it’s now September, which means race training starts at the end of the month.