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What Can I Do 5 Minutes A Day To Get Faster?

by Jane Milliff, MMSc, PT

No matter what I do, the Bolder Boulder kicks my butt. I did fine until I decided to really get serious (topic for another day) – that was when all my troubles began. One year, I ended up in the medical tent after staggering for the last 2 miles – low blood sugar. Then, I thought joining a training group was the answer. Apparently I made it into the stadium, but I don’t remember … and was taken directly to the medical tent. In fact, I don’t remember anything after running by McGuckins.

I gave up running the Bolder Boulder after that, but now I have new information that has me thinking about trying again. (Yes, you can say glutton for punishment).

5 minutes a day of additional training will lead me to a Bolder Boulder victory – which now means staying out of the medical tent! I recently learned the secret to lowering my times without any elaborate changes in my running program. I know it sounds too good to be true, but it’s about training smarter.

What’s the secret?

Train your breathing muscles. The breathing muscles are critical during a race. They account for approximately 16% of the total energy you use and they can be your limiter in any race. Just witness all the athletes, leaning on their arms after a race, trying to “catch their breath.” But until recently, no one thought you could actually train your breathing muscles to improve performance. Now, several studies have shown that breathing training, just 5 minutes per day for 6 weeks, can improve performance by as much as 5%.

Here’s why those muscles are so important:

When breathing muscles become fatigued, and they are less able to buffer the lactic acid, levels of metabolites increase in the muscles. The build-up of metabolites causes receptors in the respiratory muscles to signal the cardiovascular control center to register distress. Your brain registers distress, something any runner can remember as extremely uncomfortable. That sends a reflex to your legs to cut the blood flow – you are in crisis and your autonomic nervous system takes over to prevent you from “blowing up.” No matter how much you want to run faster, your body’s natural protection holds you back. Your legs get heavier and everything slows down.

When you train your breathing muscles – just 5 minutes a day- the increased stamina of those muscles allows you to work harder without sending the “MAY DAY” signal to your brain, so the blood flow to your legs is wide open and you race better and faster.

Join us for “Breathe Strong For Better Performance” a clinic at Fleet Feet on Thursday, April 26th at 7:15 pm.

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