Endurance performance is driven by our aerobic energy system - Meaning “with oxygen”. At aerobic levels we have adequate supply of oxygen to the working muscles.
When running at pace e.g in a race, the bulk of your performance is going to depend on
how well you can hold pace at your “Aerobic threshold”.
Aerobic threshold = This is the edge of where you either maintain the supply of oxygen to
supply the working muscles OR you loose that and tip over into anaerobic - meaning
Anaerobic > 85% Heart rate OR simply 8.5/ 10 perceived effort, is painful and
From experience the way to maintain AEROBIC is through breath awareness and by that I mean we can deepen our breath and increase the volume of oxygen spread through the body.
I learned the art of breathing through yoga practice. I stumbled across the connection to
running whilst running my first marathon distance. I was trying to stay calm under pressure
and it occurred to me to invest in my yoga breathing. Since then I have applied it in training
The benefits of breath control:
- Allows you to keep up required oxygen requirements
- It calms you by way of becoming present with a controllable focus. Panic / tension uses up more energy, restrict oxygen intake and will send you over the edge.
‘Don’t cut your neck off’ - Thats a little thing I think of usually when riding or running a hill.
The body wants to shut things down and tense up. Keep air flowing down the pipes and
whilst requiring a higher level of focus, it remains to be physically and mentally sustainable.
Other applications for breath awareness include
Pre race/ Training effort - Bringing the mind to the present and away from fears/
distractions. Engages the breathing mechanics and ensures that pathways are open and
the blood oxygen levels will begin to increase.
Recovery/Relaxation/Meditation - Forms a simple way to engage in a recovery activity.
Focus on the breath and deepening it can help engage the parasympathetic nervous
system (calming) which allows for restoration and regeneration of the internal system
including the brain and its feel good hormones.
5 very small phases - Go through as many cycles on each phase as you need to absorb
the learning. Remember the key to this is calm so feel no pressure. Just practice;)
Lay flat on your back in a quiet uninterrupted space. Notice your breathing without
changing anything. Notice where oxygen reaches. Your throat, chest?
Remember breathing is autonomous for the human body - Meaning it will happen without
We are going to enhance the breathing pattern but please note that the in breath should
happen when you feel the need to take breath in. e.g let the beginning of a new breath
happen in a relaxed stat rather than rushing into a new breath
We will take our breaths through the nose.
Your initial breath comes in lets take a little more oxygen in. Allow you chest to expand a
Now slowly let the exhale occur.
When the body is ready to breathe again feel the breath come in again and this time lets
take that enhanced inhale a little further and really allow the chest to rise. Feel your ribs
expand a little.
Slowly exhale (through your nose) and wait for the next breath to begin again.
This in breath we allow in to come in just like the last but this time lets pause for 2 seconds
at the completion of the inhale. As you pause allow the breath to sink a little further down
you body - mid way between the bottom of your ribs and navel. Exhale slowly as normal.
Repeat the cycles as per phase 4 keeping to a count of 3 seconds.
3 second inhale
3 second breath retention
3 second exhale
Allow the next cycle to happen when the body desires it rather then immediately at the end
of the count of 3.
I suggest daily practice of this initially. Once basically comprehended you could do this
anywhere convenient and eyes may remain open.
- Sitting at your desk
- In your car - as passenger or at traffic lights
- At home
- In the shower/bath
The next step will be to take this into action during physical activity.