Another week of lockdown, and another week without races. Sunday should have been the second race in this year’s Grand Prix competition, the Rayleigh 10k, but it was not to be. And it’s not just our GP competition that’s been affected; the England Athletics’ decision that all activities must be suspended until the end of May at the earliest means that the first race in the ELVIS (East London FiVes Interclub Series) competition – the Dagenham ’88 5ish – and the first race in our Handicap competition are also postponed. We’ll have to wait and see which races can be reorganised and which will have to fall by the wayside. 

In the meantime, it’s been good to see that those who are not having to isolate are continuing with their training. I know a lot of us have signed up for the 12-day Strava NHS Active Challenge (, which starts on 7 April, and some of us have signed up for Miles for Mind, which takes place across May ( 

For those who are interested, the second week of the virtual running group training plan is here: Virtual running group training plan

Focus for the week – Breathing

It may sound obvious but breathing is important when running!  Making sure we get oxygen in and carbon dioxide out of our body efficiently will mean our muscles can keep on working better for longer and we get out of breath more slowly, so we can keep running for longer. The main points are:

  • Muscles start to ache when they don’t have enough oxygen and lactic acid builds up when energy stores are broken down anaerobically (i.e. without oxygen). Breathing better will stop you from getting out of breath and reduce stitches.
  • Breathing helps with pacing, when you’re breathing more consistently and in time with your strides you will fall into a better rhythm, which you should be able to maintain for longer.
  • Better breathing helps technique, when you get out of breath or get stitches your shoulders tense up and the diaphragm contracts; focusing on good breathing helps keep you tall and relaxed when things are getting harder, which translates into better performance.

Putting it into practice

  1. Before a run stand up straight and place one hand on your stomach, breath in through your mouth and nose deeply so that you can feel your stomach expanding. Hold the breath for a few seconds, then breath out through your mouth and nose pulling your stomach in and shaking your shoulders loose. Do this 5 times (like the exercise the doctor advised in the clip posted on the BRR WhatsApp). 
  2. On your longer runs and warm ups focus on your position and breathing with your stride to fall into a comfortable rhythm. On a steady run try breathing in for three steps and out for two steps, if that doesn’t work try in for two out for two, or in for three out for three.  When it gets tough switching to in for two and out for one or in for two out for two is better. Keep your head up and shoulders relaxed and back.
  3. Then on the tempo and intervals don’t get too hung up on the rhythm, but really focus on good posture and deep effective breathing through your stomach. If you do this I promise you you’ll feel more in relaxed, in control and they will feel easier. 

Give it a go – If nothing else, practising these exercises on your training runs will be a distraction!


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