Bitching on the Run

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.

bitching on the runA 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.



Bramble DM & Carrier DR. (1983). Running and breathing in mammals. Science 219, 251-256.


Cory JM, Schaeffer MR, Wilkie SS, Ramsook AH, Puyat JH, Arbour B, Basran R, Lam M, Les C, MacDonald B, Jensen D & Guenette JA. (2015). Sex differences in the intensity and qualitative dimensions of exertional dyspnea in physically active young adults. J Appl Physiol (1985) 119, 998-1006.


Daley MA, Bramble DM & Carrier DR. (2013). Impact loading and locomotor-respiratory coordination significantly influence breathing dynamics in running humans. PLoS One 8, e70752.


McConnell AK. (2012). CrossTalk opposing view: respiratory muscle training does improve exercise tolerance. J Physiol 590, 3397-3398; discussion 3399-3400.


McKenzie DC. (2012). Respiratory physiology: adaptations to high-level exercise. Br J Sports Med 46, 381-384.


Phillips B & Jin Y. (2013). Effect of adaptive paced cardiolocomotor synchronization during running: a preliminary study. J Sports Sci Med 12, 381-387.


Richter DW. (1982). Generation and maintenance of the respiratory rhythm. J Exp Biol 100, 93-107.







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I qualified with an Honours degree in Physiotherapy from Trinity College Dublin in 2004. Since graduating I have worked in St. James Hospital Dublin and have worked in all the areas of speciality within the hospital including cardiorespiratory, orthopaedics, rheumatology, care of the elderly, neurology, burns and plastic surgery among others . I have also completed a post graduate certificate in acupuncture in UCD 2009. The Physiotherapy Department in SJH has strong links with Trinity College Dublin (TCD) and I have supervised undergraduate and postgraduate physiotherapy students on practice placements and also delivered lectures on the undergraduate academic programme in TCD. I have a keen interest in all sports and currently plays with Cill Dara RFC 1st team squad, and Milltown GAA. I have previously worked as Physiotherapist to Co. Carlow Senior GAA Team, Milltown GAA, Leinster Junior Rugby Team and Cill Dara RFC. I am an experienced runner and competed in the Dublin City Marathon in 2002. I continue to participate in running events and multisport disciplines such as Gaelforce West, Gaelforce North and the Motivate Challenge. I have a particular interest in strength and conditioning. I utilise this knowledge of resistance training in the treatment of his clients. I am committed to continuous learning and development in order to ensure the optimal level of care is offered to my clients, and with this in mind I am currently undertaking a certification in Strength and Conditioning (CSCS) with the NSCA.

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