Every breath you take, every muscle that aches…or maybe not

Catherine Jaschinski from Illuminate Consulting, is a Yoga and Mindfulness Teacher.  Her blog for Run Reigate examines the benefits of diaphragm breathing for runners.


Sorry if the headline of this article is a bad play on the Police song ‘Every breath you take’ but hopefully my verbal karaoke has got your attention.

About the only time we pay any attention to our breathing is when we are out of breath.  In running it’s usually on the home stretch of a long run and if we are unlucky it’s going up a hill as well. Does anyone remember that from last year’s Run Reigate Half-Marathon?

Our breathing is such a critical part of anything we do and yet we take it for granted.  In running it can play a number of important roles, one of them being a ‘barometer’ for how we are feeling during a run.  Sometimes when we run, our breathing is heavy, sluggish and a real struggle to draw into the body, other times it’s is light, smooth and up-lifting.  Paying attention to the nature of our breathing can guide us to how our body is handling this run and with this information we can decide how to ‘pace’ our run, i.e. whether to push through the tough patches or whether in this particular instance it may be better to ease up a bit.  Your breath can be a great tool to help inform this type of decision especially if you are the kind of person who tends to push your body to breaking point and get injuries.

Another great way you can use your breath is to improve your endurance and recovery.  Yes, that’s right.  Not only is the breath helping you to get up and down those hills, but also if you actively breathe using your diaphragm rather than your chest, you can improve your endurance and will be less likely to become fatigued.  Now wouldn’t that be nice – not to have such aches and pains after a long run.

The evidence for this comes from research from the Centre for Sports Medicine and Human Performance at Brunei University.  They measured fatigue levels of marathoner’s respiratory muscles and leg muscles and found a direct link between them – runners whose breathing was the most strained showed the most leg weakness.  They concluded that the harder the respiratory muscles had to work, the more the legs would struggle in a race.  So the key to preventing lung and leg fatigue is breathing more fully which is exactly what happens when you breathe using the diaphragm.

This is all very interesting but how on earth do I actively use my diaphragm to breathe when I don’t know where it is!  Your diaphragm is a big muscle that sits underneath your rib cage and is responsible for 80% of the effort involved in breathing.  If your tuck your fingers under your ribcage and gently push upward you will feel it there.

The easiest way to learn how to diaphragm or ‘belly breathe’ is to do the following….

  1. Lie on your back with your feet on the floor and knees bent
  2. As you breathe in allow / encourage your stomach to gently inflate and rise upwards (this movement gets your diaphragm working)
  3. As you exhale allow your stomach to deflate and lower downwards
  4. Practice this for 5-10 minutes and then you can try it standing for a few minutes

Once you’ve started to train the diaphragm breathing in a stationary position (lying or standing) you can try to use it while walking and then eventually bring it into your running.

This type of breathing is also very good to relax the body and mind so can be used outside of running to manage stress, build resilience and balance in other aspects of your life.

Just as we would train our hamstrings and quads to improve our leg strength we can improve our respiratory muscles for better breathing and ultimately better endurance.  

So when you next head out for a run, take a moment to notice your breath, use your diaphragm (at the start of the run at least) and thank it for helping you to enjoy those longer runs a little bit more.

Catherine Jaschinski

Yoga and Mindfulness Teacher

Illuminate Consulting Ltd

Mobile: 07801 045 905

Illuminate Colour on Clear copy

The next Yoga for Runners workshop will be on Wednesday 5th October 7.30 – 9.30pm in Reigate. Call Cath on mobile number 07801 045 905 or email if interested.

Sweethaven Computers

5 Ways Wearable Tech Can Enhance Your Workout

Run Reigate is delighted that Sweethaven have joined us as a new partner this year.  Check out their blog on wearable tech – including your chance to win a FREE Pulsense wristband.

Sweethaven Computers (1)

Technology is fast becoming an integral part of people’s fitness plans. Wearable fitness tech is constantly advancing to improve the quality of our training and results, enabling us to better create and meet both short-term and long-term fitness goals.

With so many features now available via wearable tech, which are the most useful for enhancing your workout? The technology team at Sweethaven has a few top tips…

Track Your Heart Rate

Of course your heart rate is going to go up during exercise! What many people don’t know is that heart rate can also be used to monitor dehydration; the symptoms of which are often overlooked by athletes during exercise. The wireless sensor tracking of heart rate can therefore be used to help you track when you need to be taking that extra sip of water.

Sleep Tracking

Tough workouts require solid sleep for muscle recovery! Use your wearable tech to track the number of hours and quality of sleep you’re getting to help make sure you’re giving your body the best opportunity for regeneration.

Target Tracker

All athletes know that progress is about goals. Use your wearable tech to set your targets and then track your progress towards achievement for positive reinforcement. Determine your daily goal and then see what your average result against it is. You can adjust your daily targets accordingly, just be sure that your goal positively impacts your fitness level – and that, over time, you see progress.

For the more competitive ones amongst us, buddy up with a training partner with similar goals to track who reaches their goal the quickest!

Calorie Counting

Because what’s more motivational than visibly eating away at the calories gained from that last pack of biscuits!

Discover all the Apps

With a whole world of apps now available, there will be a host of apps capable of accompanying and complimenting your wearable tech tracking. Apps for monitoring food intake, for example, can be a particularly beneficial when used alongside your fitness tracking to ensure you’re fuelling your body correctly. There are also apps out there that allow you to connect with online communities of fellow fitness enthusiasts for even more support and encouragement.

Sweethaven is proud to be supporting the Run Reigate half marathon this September. To celebrate this important calendar date, we’ll be giving away one FREE Pulsense wristband to one lucky runner. To be in with a chance of winning, enter your details via our website:

Sweethaven Computers

Genieve Poultney

5 achievable Half Marathon running tips from a non-pro

I am not a professional runner. Sure, I go to the gym and do a bit of military fitness every now and then, but I did the Half Marathon for the first time last year in 2:05 and beat my time this year by 15 minutes!

As a result, I wanted to share some of the things that keep me striving as a ‘normal’ person that runs.

Don’t expect any science or Olympian insights – just potential considerations for Runing Reigate in 2016:

Getting over the hump

Like with a 10k, or any long run, the first twenty minutes is the hardest. After that you should have found a pace you can settle into. That’s when I get the most joy out of running and it becomes a pleasure rather than a chore. Don’t give up before it gets good!

Helpful habits

Routine really helps my training. I like to stick to the days and times I run, for example. But essentially anything you can do to take the ‘thinking’ out of training and be psychologically prepared.

I drink water but also got into a habit of having a cup of coffee before a long run (if I was happy I was hydrated enough). It may not be the most advisable option but I felt like it gave me a smidgen more energy! It may even be a placebo! But this was just another thing that gets me feeling ready in body and mind.

Pace vs. duration

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I run at a slower pace on longer runs, there’s a natural correlation, and in turn it helps to balance out my heart rate BPM (beats per minute).

If my heart rate increased by more than ten BPM during training I would be inclined to slow down in order to ensure I was training within a healthy parameter.

It’s all common sense, but using a Fitbit or other running tracker (like the Strava app) makes you a health-aware runner who can look after yourself in good time, if the data shows you may need to.

Mix up your route

What will the route terrain be like on the day? You can’t predict the weather but you can get a feel for the land by trialling the course!

The route changed this year and there was a much steeper hill at the end (bosh hill). I would highly recommend running the course beforehand if you’ve not already to get a sense of the challenge ahead.

If it’s too far just take a more varied route once in a while so you know you can handle a change in terrain.

Comfort kit all the way!

I bought some adidas ultra-boost running shoes at this years’ Run Reigate post-race.

I wish I’d had them beforehand now, they are a dream. I’d liken it to feeling like you are running on marshmallows! They feel like they are really good for your knees too and the overall ergonomics of running.


My Half Marathon Running Diary 2015

For each run I had a goal in mind, something to aim towards, as a result I often exceeded it!

(On August 21st I was running with a friend – so this was more of a social than anything! Luckily she is a fitty and was happy with the pace I set.)

Date Kilometres Miles Pace Time Heart BPM
17th August 19.59 12.17 5”49 1:54:12 153
19th August 13.71 8.52 5”39 1:17:35 158
21st August 7.09 4.41 6”03 42:59 156
9th September 19.13 11.88 5”26 1:44:05 161


I still went to the gym and did military fitness in between runs, if I hadn’t I would have run more.

Mixing it up used different muscle groups though and made me feel stronger for when I did run.

So that’s it, from one non-pro runner to another. Maybe I’ll see you there next year!

Genevieve Poultney

(Part of the Jellyfish running team)

Jellyfish Running Team










Do you have any unusual running habits? We’d love to know…