By Lauren T.
Forward by Drew M.
One of the great things about working with the vibrant JRC community is getting to know each runner as a person. A few weeks ago I ran into one of our customers who is an avid member at Orangetheory Fitness in Willow Grove. When I first met her she was just starting to get serious about Orangetheory and since she has grown into one heck of an athlete. I had heard that she was competing in Spartan Races but I didn't realize I was speaking with a top 25 racer in the world. What impressed me more however was her backstory:
"To give you back story of my fitness/athletic history I have grown up always being active, starting to play sports at the age of five. A three-sport high school athlete turned into a Division II NCAA Field Hockey Athlete at Shippensburg University studying Exercise Science. During my time there I played in four NCAA final four tournaments and won one National Championship, winning 77 games and only losing 10 games in my entire career. This career was not all perfection, it was more of a battle. My freshman year I was diagnosed with Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, which is impingement of the Brachial Plexus to the Ulnar side. This impingement was due to a broken collar bone in high school, for three years during college I spent extensive time doing physical therapy to only end up on a surgical table after my junior year. I learned to play autonomously with a numb hand, but the constant tremors in my hand and lack of pulse recognition had to end. During surgery I lost 2.5 liters of blood, but thankfully due to my health I was able to walk away from this surgery successfully. In a month I was back on the field and playing, but the blood loss took longer to recovery from than the actual incision.
After college, I promised myself that I would not allow myself to be the former athlete that turned into a couch potato. I continued working out but missed the competitive feel and working out with my teammates. This brings Orangetheory Fitness into my life, where I met wonderful people whom pushed me to be a better version of myself every day. This workout has made me a better athlete and pushed me to build my confidence. A fellow member continually asked me to join him for Spartan racing, but due to what I thought was my lack of upper body strength and limitation with lingering numbness and quick fatigue in my shoulders, I was hesitate. After a year of him bugging me, I finally gave in. Now in my first year of Spartan racing I will complete Four Trifectas (Sprint, Super and Beast/Ultra). Outside of that I have had amazing success podiuming in these races and finishing within the top 10 each race. I have also completed an Ultra Beast which consisted of 31.5 miles, 68 obstacles, over 12,000 ft of elevation gain. This was my fourth Spartan race to date, where I achieved my first podium placing 3rd in my age group and 6th overall. I have qualified for all major championships; North American Championships, World Championships in Tahoe, CA, and World Ultra Championships in Sweden. During North American Championships I finished as the 6th best female in my age group and 41st overall female amongst the qualified females from USA, Canada, and Mexico. I am currently ranked 23rd in my age group in the World Series Ranking. My 2019 season is not over yet, as I have 5 remaining obstacle races and two trail races."
Lauren's story is that of breaking through barriers. Each time she has faced a hurdle in her career she has found a way to get past it without giving up or making excuses. Even now as she sees success in a new avenue of her career she finds ways to reinvent herself to overcome the obstacles in her path. Lauren's impressive story certainly inspires me and I hope you find inspiration too. No matter what life throws at you there is always a way to keep moving forward.
On behalf of JRC I'd like to wish Lauren the best of luck with the rest the season and Championships!
By Calvin W.
One of the early challenges I remember when I first started running is figuring out how to breathe. It all felt so ragged until I got to that point in a given running effort when my breath rate finally matched my pace. Until it didn’t again as I got further into the run. Until it did again as I progressed even further.
I came to realize that the first period of smoothness came when it took 3 footsteps to inhale and another 3 to exhale. That happened relatively early in a run not long after I got started. But that never lasted long as my body moved to the next level of effort. That’s when my breath rate and running cadence became asynchronous and ragged again. The next level of synchrony happened when I settled into the next higher level of effort when my breathing pattern became 2 steps to inhale and 2 to exhale. Once I reached that level, which fortunately lasted the majority of a running episode, I was comfortable and my breathing rhythmic.
There are terms for the phenomenon of breathing rate matching the footsteps—rhythmic or cadence breathing—and it’s the kind of issue that running authorities address. Conducting an internet keyword search on ‘breathing pattern running’ returns several popular running authorities who do just that: Runner’s World and RunConnect among others.
Reading through some of their pages, you can find information about even patterns like 3:3 and 2:2. Runner’s World (Exactly How to Breathe When You Run So You Can Go Faster and Longer) also talks about 4:4. The author even talks about odd-pattern breathing rhythms like 4:3 and 3:2.
I first heard about odd-pattern breathing in conjunction with the assertion that your body relaxes when you exhale which leaves the runner susceptible to injury when you consistently land on the same foot. Odd-pattern breathing alternates which foot you land on when your body is most relaxed. It’s an assertion that hasn’t been borne out in research. Here’s an article that talks about the practice and the research: How Should I Breathe When I Run?
What no one seems to talk about is transitioning. They talk about finding the right breathing pattern for yourself for different running efforts. But who of us maintains the same level of effort throughout a run? Even starting a given run, it takes a few minutes to warm up. And if you’re a long distance runner like I am, I don’t warm up for 3-5 miles. That’s a lot of minutes of irregular breathing.
I started experimenting with odd-pattern rhythmic breathing for my own reasons. During that period, I found that 3:2 breathing worked for a lot of my running: inhale across 3 footfalls, exhale across 2. It takes some getting used to, but like any habit, once you get used to it, it becomes second nature.
Still, as I asserted, no one maintains consistent effort level through a given running episode, and I still experienced irregular and awkward breathing across the transition to 2:1.
Then it hit me. What about combining both even-pattern and odd-pattern rhythmic breathing across a run? Here’s where I’ve landed.
I start out with 3:3 breathing as soon as I settle into a steady pace at the beginning of a run. That happens so quickly these days that I barely get going before that’s the pattern that I notice myself using. Then as my effort level increases, I switch to 3:2 breathing. As my pace picks up faster and my energy demand increases, I then switch to 2:2 breathing. Finally, for the fastest and most aggressive running I do, typically toward the end of a run, I switch to 2:1 and finally 1:1 breathing.
That might seem like a lot of transitioning—and no question it made for a lot of attentiveness when I first started figuring it out—but it’s become effortless.
In my next post, I’ll go into more detail about how breathing patterns and transitioning works for the different kinds of running I do.
-CtCloser (Calvinthe), "Negative split or positive splat"
Text: Calvin Wang, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0
The contents of this post represent the opinions and convictions of the author alone and not necessarily those of any associated entities. The author is not a medical professional and does not offer the included information as medical advice.
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