Race Prep

It’s less than three weeks until my next race, the Downtown Dash 10K , on July 14, in nearby Burlington, Ontario. Contrary to my usual “no training” approach, I’ve started doing a few things to prepare, just so I’ll acquit myself honourably.

First of all, I’ve started incorporating short fartleks into my commutes to and from work. “Fartlek” is Swedish for “speed play,” and simply means doing short, unstructured intervals during a run. It really is like playing, if done properly. (I may be a recreational athlete, but I’m a lazy recreational athlete. I’ve done proper interval sets, and they’re darn hard work.)

Secondly, I’ve recently begun doing side leg lifts, in order to build strength in my glutes. (Thanks to fellow barefoot dailymiler Nickelass for the nudge to do this.) My glutes atrophied seriously during my rehab from breaking a femur some years ago. Fourteen months of physio got me back to functional status, but I was lazy about rebuilding my glutes. I’ve got lots of strength in my lower legs and my core. But I need more strength in my glutes if I want to go faster – and, in spite of all my protestations about being a happy slowpoke, sometimes I really would like to be quicker.

Third, I’m once again doing daily breathing exercises with my Sports Breather. It’s a simple, nifty, and inexpensive device that encourages and develops strong belly breathing. Think of it, if you will, as resistance training for the diaphragm. Using it on a daily basis (I do 15 minutes each day, immediately before a run if I can), makes for easier breathing when I’m running. That translates, quite naturally, into slightly quicker running.

None of these changes are going to make a huge difference in a race that’s less than three weeks away. They should, though, if I keep on doing them, make a difference in my following race, the Cactus 10K, on August 21 in Dundas, Ontario. It’ll be a good experiment. I’ve got a benchmark, two upcoming measuring points, and a couple of theories to test.


  1. Good stuff Alan. I’m interested in breathing from the diaphragm because several times while running I’ve found myself short of breath and not able to really breathe deeply like I want. Any tips?

    1. First of all, have a look at the Sports Breather link. It’s a good product. As I said in the post, it’s effective and inexpensive. Does what it says it’ll do, and quickly. Secondly, practice belly breathing, particularly just before you start a run, and just before you go to sleep. Using the Sports Breather will build your diaphragm strength,and make belly breathing more natural. Taking three or four deep belly breaths just before you start your run will relax you and trigger you to keep doing it. Slow belly breathing just before you go to sleep will make falling asleep quicker and easier. Let me know how it works out, OK?

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