How do you know you are running the perfect pace up hill, down hill or on the flat during every minute of every training run? Below is the pacing secret of elite runners.
A simple trick for your to try to ensure that you are in the “aerobic zone” (where most of your training should be) AND maintaining good running/jogging technique is to take 3-4 steps every breath in and 3-4 steps every breath out. This is called a breathing rhythm – in this case a 3-3 or 4-4 pattern depending on whether or not you are taking 3 or 4 steps every breath in AND another 3-4 steps every breath out. This may not make much sense until you try it. But once you try it you will be hooked.
In other words, if you breathing rate is too fast relative to your step rate – for example only 2 steps per breath in and 2 steps per breath out (i.e. a 2-2 rhythm), then you are either
a) Running too fast (outside your aerobic zone)
b) Over striding
c) In a race
I find that by monitoring this on up hills, down hills, and on the flat, I can run for 2-3 hours without a build-up of oxygen debt and still feel good at the end.
Another great benefit of this strategy is that it works effectively at the beginning and end of the runs when most mistakes happen. For example, at the beginning of your run, you often need to control your speed to maintain a 3-3 or 4-4 rate to avoid oxygen debt and early fatigue. In addition, at the end of your run when your technique tends to suffer, this same aerobic breathing rate (3-3 or 4-4 pattern) will force you to keep your leg turnover rate high and avoid over striding. If you are unable to control your breathing rhythm at 3-3 or 4-4 while jogging, this means it is time to take a walk break to catch your breath.
Good luck and enjoy YOUR perfect pace.
Aaron Case BSc DC
Active Release Techniques and Chiropractor