One of the commenters on the first part of why I tried nasal breathing (read it here) said she did it to make sure she ran her easy runs easy. This is even sort of ties into the actual topic this week — my thoughts on rest days — I write about that a lot! Yes, I’m a big fan of rest days. They’re important to let all your hard work be assimilated by your body.
Run your easy runs easy
Okay, that was a bit of a reach. This post is not so much about rest days, but it is about whether or not you’re running too hard on your easy runs. You probably are. Most runners do. Because if the secret to running faster is to, well, run faster — the more the better, right?
Nooooo! You will quickly find that breathing in and out only through your nose will quickly let you know when you’re running too hard. You’ll probably want to start breathing through your mouth — a sure sign that you’re pushing too hard.
This article here explains how to slowly master nasal breathing and some of the benefits
By dramatically increasing the amount and intensity of work you’re able to do while nose breathing, you will reconfigure both your body and your brain to change what they think your endurance, power, and speed thresholds are. You won’t be tiring out secondary respiratory muscles (lats, intercostals and obliques) that fatigue quickly and start to signal the brain that you’re almost out of puff! You’ll be able to keep going faster for longer without tiring, and will avoid utter crashes and collapses that we see when people allow their breathing patterns to go haywire during a race or intense workout.
Matt Frazier, of No Meat Athlete, has another great post on nasal breathing here. The book he mentions is one that I have read. My experience with nasal breathing was just different from his — my heart rate could still get up relatively high, by which I presume that I was still just running too fast while trying to unlearn mouth breathing.
Even if fewer breaths, lower heart rate, and less perceived exertion didn’t translate into performance gains — and as far as I’m concerned, the jury is still out — it’s a worthwhile experiment for anyone interested in meditation, relaxation, and spending more time in the mysterious, elusive Zone.
It all comes back to can you tell if you’re running easy rather “easily” by tuning into your breath — whether you’re nose breathing or mouth breathing. It’s not the only way to tell if you’re truly running easy, but it’s a good tool to have. You always have it with you.
Reading these articles makes me feel that maybe I didn’t really ease into nasal breathing as much as I should have. Or maybe I threw in the towel too early, and really just needed to go back to basics. I’m still not sure I want to revisit it, but I want what Matt has! That feeling of ease, while breathing through your nose, even while running hard, but most especially while running easy.
Whether nasal breathing has intrigued you or not, the advice to run your easy runs easy is always important. Your body works hard for you and it deserves to be taken care of. — Chocolaterunsjudy
Do you care if you’re running easy or hard for easy runs?
Has running easy runs too hard ever led to problems for you?
What are some signs that you need a rest day?
This week I am also joining up with the new Runners’ Roundup linkup.