Darth Vader

Friday 14th July 2010
First run today for about a month. Slow and kept short at 45 mins. Find that running level has dropped a lot.

Saturday 15th July 2010
Not feeling great so just go for a short hard bike ride and a bit of research into “breathing”. In fact legs are hurting quite badly from the running yesterday – the “DOMS”. One week ago I climbed the Versant du Soleil in 35:07 mins and today I wanted to see how fast I could climb it with purely “nasal” breathing. The theory is that breathing through the nose increases levels of CO2, NO and O2 in the blood and creates a better oxygenation of the whole body. This is achieved not by breathing more deeply but by breathing more slowly and less deeply and by the diaphragm. It is a bit hard to get used to because of the habit of hyperventilating being so ingrained. The result was interesting in that the climb took 33:44 mins – when to be honest I expected it to be slower. Average heart rate was practically identical for both efforts.

To help to slow down exhalation you can make a sort of grunt of groaning sound at the back of the throat, with the mouth closed – which sounds a bit like Darth Vader.

Sunday 16th July 2010
Have even worse DOMS today. Decide to go for a short training session again. Climb the Versant du Soleil using nasal breathing and pushing a higher gear. Found it mentally much tougher to hold it together. Not used to the pain level of pushing the higher gear – I guess this is the drawback of using low gears and working on high cadence and aerobic fitness most of the season. It’s clear to me now that the best way to improve climbing speed is to get more power into the pedals. Tour de France climbing specialists use a gear ratio of 53/39 to 11/23 even on the steepest climbs. The ones who are not specialists might have a rear sprocket up to 25 or 26. I’m climbing mostly on 34 front and 28 rear. That’s good for developing higher cadence rates and surviving longer distances, but it’s not really developing muscle power. The result of using the third sprocket (23) instead of second (26) was that the climb was 30 seconds faster. It was hard to deal with the leg pain and the mild discomfort of nasal breathing both together, but that was also due to the nose feeling slightly obstructed. Will have to start washing the nasal passages with salt water – as is recommended. This means pouring water in one nasal passage and letting it run out of the other.

One thing I notice when really pushing hard and nasal breathing is that there is a tingling feeling sometimes passes through the body – a feeling that does not occur with oral breathing. There is no light headedness or anything negative. If you have to take a break and allow two or three breaths by the mouth it might relieve the slight feeling of need for more air, but immediately there is a sort of negative feeling goes through the body – hard to describe. The nasal breathing feels so good that you just want to return to it as soon as possible. It takes a bit of getting used to the feeling that there is not enough air – but that feeling appears to be a bit of an illusion reinforced through habit.

Monday 17th July 2010
Went for a 10km run today and confirmed that my running has gone right back to square one. Very Slow!!! Legs hurt and everything laborious. Felt the old plantar fasciitis for a few minutes under the right foot but that fortunately completely disappeared quite quickly. Focussed on running technique and nasal breathing. The nasal breathing was effortless as the legs were not able to propel me at a level capable of taxing my respiratory capacities in the slightest.

Started to swim a bit more seriously today. Strung together 10 lengths of the 50m pool and managed to pretty much hold the technique together. Added two lengths a much higher speed and everything felt better with the extra speed, plus there wasn’t the usual accompanying breathlessness so something must be right. Tried to breathe out through the nose under the water. Having to concentrate to keep the elbows up both in and out of the water. No shoulder injuries even with the harder effort. Previous attempts to swim harder have injured the right shoulder – but this time the movement of the arm from the shoulder feels much stronger and safer. Feel like real progress is being made in the pool.

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