Note: During my run 5 weeks ago, I broke my iPod Nano … again (See weeks 13 through 16). I decided not to fix it or purchase the iTouch. Instead, I’ll wait till this September for the latest generation of Apple iPod to be released until I can run with music again and log my exact time, pace, and mileage. Also, my data for my run this Monday is extra unreliable due to the untended technical glitches the treadmill machines on my gym experienced repeatedly.
How to be more productive: First of all, I learned that you have to be honest with yourself about how you define the word productivity. For me, it’s not so much the quantity of results you end up with by the end of the day; it’s how much you’ve worked out your problem-solving throughout the day in order to work efficiently. While the idea of scheduling a whole day dedicated to work may seem attractive, numerous research shows that squeezing in just a little bit of physical activity can significantly increase work productivity. You reap what you sow, so throw some seeds for your mental and physical health as it is proven to conduce a more wholesome result.
– Image courtesy of Vain and Vapid via Tumblr
The secret to a smooth running cadence lies in your attention to your own breaths. Why you should practice rhythmic breathing: Now that I’ve ran for more than five years, I focus more on injury prevention rather than finding ways to get fitter or speedier (although those things are still attractive to me). According to Budd Coates, M. S., and Claire Kowalchik on their book, Running on Air: The Revolutionary Way to Run Better by Breathing Smarter, if your exhalation coincides with every time your foot hits the ground, you are impacting up to three times your body weight of running stress, causing energy inefficiency throughout the run and can possibly lead to injury. “This is because when you exhale, your diaphragm and the muscles associated with the diaphragm relax, creating less stability in your core. Less stability at the time of greatest impact makes a perfect storm for injury,” explains the authors. “Rhythmic breathing, on the other hand, coordinates footstrike with inhalation and exhalation in an odd/even pattern so that you will land alternately on your right and left foot at the beginning of every exhalation. This way, the impact stress of running will be shared equally across both sides of your body.”
For energy efficiency’s sake in your running and to maximize stress release after a long day at work, always opt for belly breathing – or what physiologists call diaphragmatic breathing – rather than chest breathing. When I just discovered belly breathing, I started to notice all around me so many people go about holding their breaths, looking as if they keep so much stuff on their chest that I fear they’ll suffocate once something bad in their lives happen. Hey, I used to be one of those stressed-out people too.
This simple breath work, also practiced in other areas of physical discipline such as yoga, meditation, and martial arts, gives you a sense of centeredness, connecting the mind, body, and spirit into one. The even rhythm allows you to put in steady effort (instead of going to the extremes) during long runs so you want exhaust yourself or die of boredom. It is recommended for you to practice belly breathing in your daily life, not just in running, for all-around wellbeing. Learn more about belly breathing on the book’s compact excerpt here, courtesy of Runner’s World.
Take a deep breath. Now remember: Focus on progress, not just the results. Keep yourself accountable in doing so. I may not have an iPod nano to know my pace as for now like I usually do, but I don’t want to pressure myself to buy a new one hastily just to get the complete data of my runs. Without pace, I still have times to count on (find out why distances on the treadmill is not reliable).
Here’s to making your milestones:
Inhale, exhale. Cheers :)