These days, running is a very common activity seen in public parks and other areas, particularly in the morning or evening. Additionally, there are a lot more running events than ever before, where runners have the opportunity to test their speed and endurance against their peers. There are also a variety of techniques that runners must continually be learning and studying.
“Running rhythm” is yet another running technique that all runners should pay attention to, regardless of their level or the time of day they run, as it will help them improve their efficiency, keep them from getting tired too quickly, reduce stress levels and help them feel light on their feet and able to keep moving without interruption.
Running rhythm is the control of your movements, so that they are consistent and in conjunction with all parts of the body. This includes striding methods and arm swing. Most importantly, as running rhythm is also associated with the respiratory system, it also includes a breathing pattern. If a runner can find a good rhythm that works for him or her, this will result in better running performance, faster speeds and greater endurance, enabling to run for longer periods of time. This is possible due to proper use of the lungs and diaphragm muscles working together in harmony with other body movements, allowing the runner to control energy usage while running, and thus resulting in greater relaxation and reduction of stress.
Running rhythm is considered to be an ability that is unique to each individual runner. The rhythm depends on the runner’s understanding of the own body and movements by learning what works best and is able to create the right rhythm, along with consistent and faithful practice.
Most people, when running, will naturally breathe with a 2-2 rhythm, meaning they inhale for two foot strikes and exhale for two foot strikes, according to the rhythm of their left-right foot strike. It works like this: inhale and when the right foot touches the ground, count 1, and when the left foot touches the ground, count 2. From there, exhale, counting 1 when the right foot touches the ground and counting 2 when the left foot touches the ground.
As you begin to fall into the rhythm, your breaths in and out will always fall on the right foot strike and you will count 2 every time the left foot strikes the ground. This 2-2 pattern means that your diaphragm will bear down on the same side every time; the right side, due to the impact of the foot strike coinciding with inhalation and exhalation on the right side only every time.
Therefore, in order to practice use of the diaphragm evenly on both sides, the 3-2 breathing pattern in conjunction with running rhythm was developed. This pattern involves lengthening the inhalation period to three foot strikes and then exhaling for two foot strikes. This can help prevent injuries arising from greater and repeated impact on one side of the body. This is because the diaphragm and other breathing muscles contract during inhalation and relax during exhalation. Runners can practice this breathing pattern as follows:
Continue alternating as described above, until a rhythm has been formed where you are inhaling and exhaling equally with both left and right foot strikes, thus distributing impact and stability to both sides of the body equally. When you first start out practicing this particular rhythm, it may seem a little difficult or require extra concentration. However, if you stick with it until the body has “memorized” the breathing pattern and rhythm, it will begin to come more naturally and you will run more comfortably, have a better stride, feel less tired and have a lot more endurance.
In addition to more professional methods of running rhythm, finding fun musical rhythms to run to can be a great way to help a runner find their own individual running rhythm. Not only that, but it can also make the run more enjoyable and less monotonous.
The use of music is a great and simple way to help create a repetitive rhythm and allow the body to get used to a particular speed. This means that if you are using slow music while running, the pace of your run will be slow as well. And if you want to run faster, just switch your playlist to something faster and more fun.
Finding your own running rhythm is an important factor in controlling your speed at a steady level. Not only that, but you can also increase both your speed and endurance in running if you continue to practice until you have developed a good method and rhythm. In addition to getting to know all the various running techniques available, runners need to be well-acquainted with their own body and physical condition at the same time, as they continue to practice with determination and consistency.
M.D., Faculty of Medicine, Siriraj Hospital, Mahidol University, 2007.