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Cardiovascular Training


    Your heart is just a muscle like any other and if a little kid were to lift a 10 pound bag of rice, it would take all the strength of his little muscles, and his muscles would be working at full capacity to do the work, but an adult with large muscles who lifts 225 pounds regularly with his muscles would only use a small percentage of the muscles' total strength and would feel little strain lifting the same bag.

    In the heart's case, if I run for an hour regularly and my heart is working at its max then my heart muscle is big and strong, and when I am washing dishes, my heart will only be using a small percentage of its full capacity, and my heart rate will be low (around 60 in my case). If the most strenuous thing I do in my life is washing dishes (like many people) then when I wash dishes, my heart rate will be working at or near its full capacity, because that is all it is used to doing, and the heart rate will be high.

    So, you must train your heart (and lungs) through cardiovascular training and make your heart muscle bigger by steadily asking it to do more work for longer periods of time: i.e. walking, running, hiking, biking. It is generally believed that cardiovascular exercise should be done for at least 20 minutes to have benefits or more precisely, that your heart should be in the target rate for 20 minutes. The stronger it gets, the less of its full capacity it will use when you wash dishes, and the lower your resting heart rate will be.

    Good aerobic/cardiovascular exercise should put your heart rate in the 65-85% range of its max capacity. To figure the max capacity of your heart, subtract your age from 220 (for me that is 220 - 44 = 176) so my max heart rate is 176 (theoretically - because I am in good shape and biologically younger that 44, my max heart rate is somewhat higher and I regularly go over 176 while running). Then to find your workout heart range multiply your max by .65 or .85 and that will give you 65-85% respectively (for me, 114 = 65% and 149 = 85%). I try to keep my heart in the 65-80% range for burning fat and a little higher, 85%, to work my heart more.


Breathing pace versus footfall cadence

     People have a tendency to match their breathing pace while running to their footfalls. Indeed this is a good way to pace yourself, and works as a good yardstick for making improvements.
     Some sites, such as this Runner's World article, incorrectly list breathing rates as 3 to 3, 2 to 2, 2 to 1, or 1 to 1. This is an incorrect, and inexact, method of calculation.
     Yet other sites such as this Northwest Runner article, list a similar method they have made that method of counting breathing even more incorrect by applying different numbers to the same rates:

2-3 steps for each inhalation and 2-3 steps each exhalation when running at 180 steps per minute. This is referred to as a 2-2 or a 3-3 pattern of breathing

Is it a 2-2 or a 3-3? It cannot be both!

     This is the correct way:

Breathing pace: Count four steps starting with the left foot-strike (L = left foot and R = right foot): L1 R2 L3 R4, a 4 step count.
2/8 Normal breathing pace for long distance runs will be an exhale (or inhale depending on how you like to count - I will use the word exhale for simplicity) on every L1 (2/8 breathing - since it is 2 exhales for 8 steps)
3/8 Faster breathing pace will be an exhale on every L1 and R4 (3/8 since you exhale 3 times in 8 steps)
4/8 Fastest breathing pace will be up the an exhale with every L1 (4/8 since you will exhale 4 times in 8 steps)

     When applying fractions it is standard to utilize the smallest denominator, which in this case is 8, to calculate. We could reduce 2/8 to 1/4 and 4/8 to 1/2 but 3/8 cannot be reduced so the formulas would not be logical. Maintaining them with a common denominator of 8 is the only logical choice and simplifies the equation.

     The incorrect methods shown on the aforementioned pages have no relevant meaning to the footfalls or breaths. In 1 to 1, you have 1 breath for every step - logical. But then in the second, 2 to 1, there are not two breaths for every step but 2 breaths for every 3 steps. In the next figure, 2 to 2, there should be 2 breaths for every 2 steps but there are actually 2 breaths for every 4 steps. Confusing to say the least.