Avoid overtraining with these 2 simple proven practices

Avoid overtraining with these 2 simple proven practices

Despite what you may think, the majority of your running should be fairly easy. Back in the 60s, the renowned running coach Arthur Lydiard revolutionised training with a method that featured lots of slow, comfortable running with modest amounts of speed work.

Whilst high-intensity exercise does help improve fitness, the quickest way to overtraining, pain and often injury is to do too much of it. As a rule of thumb consider a maximum of 20% of your training at a hard effort level but only of course if you are appropriated skilled and conditioned for this.

So the good news is at least 80% of your training should be at a comfortable effort level. This will not only improve fitness but also your general health and wellbeing. It’s also the smart way to improving your speed since you will be building a solid aerobic base on which to build.

Nasal Breathing

The easiest way to ensure that you stay at an easy effort level is to shut your mouth! Breathing in and also out through the nose only. It may take a little time to get used to and it will most probably slow you down to start but stick with it. You’ll soon reap the benefits.

When you get to the point where you feel you need to take a big breath through the mouth then slow down or walk but make sure you don’t open your mouth.

If you think this is going to be difficult it’s worth noting that a study at UWE Bristol1 found that ‘nasal breathing was possible at 85% of maximum workload suggesting that people are capable of nose breathing at much higher intensities than they would normally choose to do.’

Why? Nasal breathing ensures that you are running aerobically (with oxygen) and will keep your heart-rate in the aerobic training zone. When working aerobically you shouldn’t be out of breath!

Other benefits of nasal breathing include:

  • Filtering of bacteria and germs
  • Harnesses nasal nitric oxide which helps open up airways
  • Reduces the occurrence of exercise-induced asthma as research shows that oral breathing during exercise increases bronchospasm
  • Inspiratory muscle trainer – diaphragm, intercostals, and nasal dilator muscles get activated and strengthened
  • Better oxygen delivery to the cells by encouraging diaphragmatic breathing

Studies also show that after a training session an hours relaxation focusing on diaphragmatic breathing reduces oxidative stress2.

Heart Rate Training

Heart rate is a direct reflection of the body’s oxygen need. Therefore if you check your heart-rate whilst practicing nasal breathing you should see a correlation to the MAF method of heart-rate training since both are focusing on an easy aerobic pace.

Phil Maffetone3 stresses the importance of lower training intensities to avoid overtraining syndrome and offers a simple calculation to find your easy aerobic heart rate:
Subtract your age from 180.

Modify this number by selecting the best fit of the following:

  1. If you are recovering from a major illness, surgery or on any regular medication, subtract 10
  2. If you have not exercised before, or have been injured, regressing in your running, often get colds, or you have allergies, subtract 5
  3. If you have been exercising for up to two years with no real problems and have not had colds or flu more than once or twice a year, subtract 0
  4. If you have been exercising for more than two years without any problems, making progress in competition without injury, add 5

For example, if you are 30 years old and fit into category B: 180 – 30 = 150, and
150 – 5 = 145.

This is the maximum easy-pace aerobic heart rate. For efficient base building, you should train at or just below this level throughout your base-building period.

If you are over 65 or 16 and under further individualisation will be needed.

Check out this google sheets heart rate calculator that I’ve compiled combining MAF, HR zones, ChiRunning gears, and nasal breathing. https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1fZStOKV4ytk95cec3_KDgFvuYzlenFQ7gQ2869MNLiI

Summary

  • 80/20 training – minimum 80% of training at an easy effort level
  • Avoid the ‘grey zone’ where every training session is at a ‘somewhat hard’ effort level
  • Take time to focus on total nasal breathing in everyday life and well as when you are training
  • Use heart rate as biofeedback and focus first on body sending

References

1 ‘The Effects of Nasal Breathing on Exercise Tolerance – Research Repository’. Accessed 22 February 2019. http://eprints.uwe.ac.uk/7545/.

Martarelli, Daniele, Mario Cocchioni, Stefania Scuri, and Pierluigi Pompei. ‘Diaphragmatic Breathing Reduces Exercise-Induced Oxidative Stress’. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine: ECAM 2011 (2011): 932430. https://doi.org/10.1093/ecam/nep169.

3 Maffetone, Philip B., and Paul B. Laursen. ‘Athletes: Fit but Unhealthy?’ Sports Medicine – Open 2, no. 1 (26 May 2016): 24. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40798-016-0048-x.

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Top tips from top running coaches!

Top tips from top running coaches!

Picture: Hannah Kirkman, senior coach South West of England.

The main thing I’ve learned over my years as a runner and a coach is that running doesn’t always have to be hard work! Check out some top tips from three of our top instructors.

Emer O’Brien teaches ChiRunning and Pilates in Co. Kilkenny, Ireland and quite rightly highlights the fact that running should be fun in her top tips!

  • Take the pressure off your legs by focusing on lengthening the spine and reaching the crown of your head for the sky.
  • Focus on building up the distance at an easy pace, pace is not your priority at this stage, running continuously is your first goal.
  • Gradual progress is key, don’t overthink it, breath, relax and run
  • Your priority is to stay injury-free so increase the distance gradually
  • Remember to have fun! 

Hannah Kirkman is our senior coach in the South West of England. Hannah is a highly-experienced runner and coach and is also a specialist personal trainer and restorative exercise specialist. 

  • Going straight from 0-60 and 60-0 is hard on the body and mind. Always invest time in warming up and cooling down
  • Think of your rest days as an important part of your training – it’s when the magic happens

Hannah also wrote an excellent blog post on a similar theme http://blueskyrunning.co.uk/6-things-beginning-running

Nick Constantine is our senior coach in the North West of England and Scotland. He also hosts regular retreats across Europe. Nick has been an avid yogi for over 20 years and also teaches yoga alongside ChiRunning which is an excellent combination. Here’s Nick’s sage advice:

  • Focus on rhythm not speed. Use the tips of your elbows as timers. Tap the 180 beat with the elbows. Keep your focus away from tapping out the beat with your feet. Concentrate on running over not on the ground. 
  • Practice balancing on one leg, there are lots of variations from pistol squat to yoga asana but just balance on one leg. Note the differences between each side. Remember running is a balancing act. 
  • Hum your favourite tune! If you can hum you are breathing just fine.
  • ‘Spend time on my feet’ was the best advice I received from a very good female marathon runner. Many runners drive, sit etc and then only move when running. If you want to complete a marathon in 4 hours try walking for 4 hours. How do you feel? 

Lots of great advice there. Pick one or two ideas at a time to take out on a run with you and let us know how you get on. 

Remember that running with the right mindset an eye on good technique offers numerous health benefits, both a physically and mentally.

Keep smiling!

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You’ll receive regular emails of ideas, articles and opportunities related to health and fitness – along with access to a private Facebook group where you can benefit from the accountability, support, knowledge and experience of like-minded people. We hope you find it a useful and inspiring place to be – we do!

Learning to let go

Learning to let go

Heck, writing this blog has just stopped me in my tracks, ‘what does Chi Running mean to me? how has it influenced my life?’ was the topic I wanted to share. And for a second I thought I’d write ‘my 10k time PB is 10 minutes faster, my 5k time is 3 minutes faster, my half marathon time is down by 12 minutes’, but actually it is so much more. I’ve let ‘it’, the journey of Chi Running, develop over time, unlike most other things in my life which I tend to rush and want now, I kind of knew in the depths of my mind, the body and mind don’t change overnight, when finding Chi Running during my midst of injury I felt confident that this will be a journey, an interesting self-analysis.

I have been practicing Chi Running since I attended Jon Burdon’s workshop in 2014 and I have been teaching since the summer of 2016. Originally my practice was linked to my year of injury, shin splints and tight calves forcing me to walk on my toes, I knew my body needed to learn new habits, I knew running wasn’t painful, I knew I didn’t need new trainers. There was something screaming at me to listen, from the inside. It took, with my patience, some mental adjustments. To stop, to reassess, to allow myself to run only half a mile then three-quarters, to make a mental note of how my body felt (and forget about what was happening at work or my weekend plans), to truly pay attention to me.

[perfectpullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]You can do yoga too, engage your core, align from the crown of your head, use the forces of gravity but if your mind is not self-accepting, throwing you digs throughout the day, throughout your run, your energy will not flow.[/perfectpullquote]I race competitively and my life is surrounded by running – books, social posts, a large group of friends, a race calendar, a training calendar, dinners, Park

I race competitively and my life is surrounded by running – books, social posts, a large group of friends, a race calendar, a training calendar, dinners, Park Run and coffee – the injury allowed me to justify dipping out of the running, I felt less guilty and other runners understood. But now I wish I had made the conscious effort to practice Chi Running before the injury took hold because I knew deep down my body could be more efficient – I knew after longer runs I didn’t need to wake up the next day unable to walk. All the lovely new clients I meet now who tell me this is the sole reason they are attending my workshops – to concentrate on me – just fills me with pride. Because social pressure can be tough, and our own self-pressure can be harsher. To explain to other runners that I was training to be a Chi Running instructor received some blank looks, the occasional smirk or dismiss, lots of explanation and also much appreciated support. For some of these reasons I kept it on the low, I wanted to ‘be the change’ and not force other runners to look at their technique. I am so passionate about looking after your body, inside and out, and so my journey continued…

By no means have I ‘nailed’ Chi Running, it really is a lifelong journey, and why would we ever want the ‘me time’ to end. I have, hand on heart, embedded the practice into every run I complete, I love having my mindful hints and tips stashed in my back pocket. Not all of my runs feel amazing, what I am learning now is my body has adapted and is slowly learning and it is changing how it moves me around life, but my mind is what holds me back.

[perfectpullquote align=”left” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]What Chi Running has helped me to see, is how the mind and body can work together, we take it for granted but actually, our mind is telling us stories, stories which are not true, and our body responds to this.[/perfectpullquote]

I saw Chi Running as a physical technique, something quite tangible that you would see results from on your Garmin. So that was true, my performance has improved, my body recovers quicker. But what I didn’t expect was how it would lead me to learn so much more about myself. You can do yoga too, engage your core, align from the crown of your head, use the forces of gravity but if your mind is not self-accepting, throwing you digs throughout the day, throughout your run, your energy will not flow. Instead, you will create a blocker, mentally and physically. What Chi Running has helped me to see, is how the mind and body can work together, we take it for granted but actually, our mind is telling us stories, stories which are not true, and our body responds to this. Body sensing and gradual progression in a holistic sense – like every day, in everything we do – being kind to ourselves, internally, nutritionally, externally with rest and recovery, moving our bodies an inch at a time – this really generates a slow long-term lasting change within us. A positive calm mind, a positive relaxed aligned body. Inclusively strong.

So my Chi Running journey has begun, but only just, I’m going to continue to adapt my body, gently and generously, enjoying that freedom from the inside out, and being kind to myself, body sensing from head to toe, being positive and letting that energy flow; all of this gradually while working towards my running goals. I’d say Chi Running has allowed me to ‘be the change’ – learning to let go, mind and body, working simultaneously.


Kelly Knight

Kelly Knight

Kelly teaches Chi Running in the Midlands. For more details and to check out her upcoming workshops and guided trail runs click here to visit Kelly’s profile page.

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