Nothing like a good bitching session to cleanse the soul and clear the mind. In a world that’s becoming obsessed with the art of wellness – the benefits of a good bitch and moan is liable to be forgotten. People prefer to keep it a guilty secret, we all enjoy a good bitching session. Some will argue that accepting a negative situation and working through it to explore its positive dimensions is the best approach. But this is clearly nonsense, bitching is so much better and now its official. At its best bitching can be funny and even essential as a cathartic release when aspects of life like work, parenthood, marriage, debts and kids become annoying and overwhelming.
A run with a friend is a great opportunity for a good rant. Some might think that bitching is the domain of women but us men are more than competent at having a good moan and whinge. There are different types of bitching – the bonding bitch fuelled by mutual hate, the righteous bitching driven by indignation and smugness or even the jealous bitching inspired by envy. But in order to be able to bitch on the run, you have to be able to talk and run at the same time and this demands good control of your breathing. Breathing increases rapidly at the onset of running, at a rate proportional to the running speed (Yoshida & Fukuba, 1992). All runners experience shortness of breath, it’s supposed to happen. Rhythmic breathing patterns can help control shortness of breath, reduce fatigue, make running more comfortable, it may even reduce injury risk but most importantly it will allow you to chat like you are sitting comfortably in “Stitch N’Bitch” class (Daley et al., 2013).
Unfortunately runners of all levels can fall into faulty breathing patterns that may hinder running performance. Novice runners characteristically have no pattern to their breathing – they have no rhythm, while experienced runners synchronize their breathing with their stride making them more effective and efficient (Phillips & Jin, 2013). The most common pattern among experienced runners is breathing in for two steps and out for two steps (2:2) as this can maximize the intake of oxygen. But it has been theorised that this pattern may predispose runners to injuries due to the fact that the footstrike coincides with the start of exhalation. This means that exhalation begins every time the left foot hits the ground, the left side of the body will constantly be exposed to impact at a point of vulnerability (exhalation) potentially predisposing this side of the body to more injuries. For this reason it may be worth adopting an odd numbered pattern – a 3:2 pattern on easy runs and a 2:1 pattern when running faster (Bramble & Carrier, 1983). Rhythmic breathing patterns are most efficiently facilitated by learning to breathe using the diaphragm. The diaphragm is a muscle and like all muscles it and can be trained and strengthened. Using the diaphragm to its full potential allows the lungs to expand and inhale more oxygen, making it more available to working muscles and improving endurance (McConnell, 2012). Many runners underuse their diaphragm, relying on their chest muscles (the intercostals), taking shorter shallow breaths and therefore taking in less oxygen. The intercostals muscles are smaller and fatigue more quickly than the diaphragm.
Runners often struggle with breathing. Wheezing, panting, going hell for leather, the breathing can be shallow, rapid and loud. Making an effort to change your breathing pattern may make you a better runner but more importantly it will allow you do have a good bitch.
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