HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR BREATHING AND MINDFULNESS ON A RUN

FOR A PREVIOUS EDITION OF TRAIL RUNNING, WE CAUGHT UP WITH COACH AND FORMER GB INTERNATIONAL MARTIN YELLING


by Trail Running |
HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR BREATHING AND MINDFULNESS ON A RUN

A decade ago, Martin Yelling – a Trail Running cover star in 2010 – was at the start of a new journey. He had been a pretty successful athlete, whose list of achievements included a sub 10-hour Ironman triathlon in Hawaii at the world champs, a sub 30-minute 10k and, of course, a love of trail. He and his wife Liz, a double Olympian in the marathon had just moved to the south coast and ran every day along the amazing coastal footpaths that the area offers. Living the trail running dream had now become a reality.

Today, the co-founder of Marathon Talk – the super-successful podcast devoted to running – organiser of countless races and running holidays in the Alps and still very much a lover of all things off-road, Martin spends much of his time coaching.

And perhaps now, more than at any other time, it’s that understanding of how we all improve both mentally and physically when it comes to successful running that’s more relevant than ever. With recent world events restricting our movement like never before, this is the time to concentrate on the small things, like learning new breathing techniques to help you move more easily and smoothly on your run.

“Right now, much of what we’ve all been experiencing is learning how to really improve your running, be that just starting out or if you’ve been a runner for a while adding to what you’ve done in the past,” says Martin, speaking to us during the coronavirus lockdown. He adds that right about now, that becomes a matter of learning balance.

“Suddenly runners, thanks to a better routine, are all doing more,” Martin explains. “So right now it’s about having the confidence to learn to do a bit less!”

By that he means more than ever it’s about understanding what your heart rate monitor or Garmin is telling you. A beat or two higher in the morning is probably telling you to back off, you’re a bit tired and not go for that hard run as your mind or diary is telling you.

“It’s about teaching yourself how to keep your sensible head on,” he laughs.

Top of that list is Martin’s take on mindfulness when you’re out running the trails. “Think if you were told to describe the experience of eating a raisin’ is his way of explaining how we can all learn to breathe better on a run. It’s all about the detail and allowing it to happen. Don’t be disturbed about what is happening; just allow it to occur. “

It’s an interesting technique that perhaps some more experienced runners have learned to do without realising. You can’t force something; if you’re tired, well then, you’re tired, so back off, slow down and take it easy.

“We certainly have the ability to notice things, but less so the ability to respond. That’s what takes a bit of time to learn,” he adds.

In short, he’s saying it’s not wrong to slow down; your body and mind are telling you to do that for a variety of good reasons.

But, he concludes, the best way for all of this to work is to be attentive over a number of runs and respond accordingly. One-off, perhaps being tired isn’t an issue, but over a week, why not go out of your way to learn what the data you’ve collected on your watch or app is telling you personally?

It makes a difference! Stay strong and have fun learning just what running is all about.

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