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The Benefits of Intramural Sports

September 16, 2021

Written by Kailey Bandara, Intramural Sports Manager

As a manager who has played and worked for Intramural Sports, I can say first-hand that there are many benefits to participating in Intramural Sports. Not only did it help create hundreds of memories with teammates and coworkers, but it was also the perfect starting point to getting involved on campus. Here are four of the major benefits of participating in Intramural Sports:

Meet New People

College is a time of transition. Getting plugged in can be a daunting task when navigating class schedules and settling into a new dorm or apartment. The person you sit next to in class can become your best friend, but sometimes it can be a lot harder than that to form friendships and meet new people. Speaking from a place of personal experience, joining an Intramural team opened the door to having opportunities every week to make memories in a fun and competitive environment. You can join a team with your hall or play the role of “General Manager” and add people to your team that you have met from other places on campus. Whichever route you choose by building a team or joining one, you will never know the fun and lifelong friendships you can build when you decide to participate in Intramural Sports.

Great Source of Exercise & Stress Relief

Through the craziness of classes and other responsibilities students might have during their time at Liberty, it can be difficult to get a healthy amount of exercise into their weekly routines. While going to the gym to workout is a good solution, doesn’t playing a game with friends twice a week sound more fun? Whether a student is running down the field to catch a touchdown pass or dribbling the ball down the court on a fast break, Intramural Sports provides a great source of exercise every week without even lifting a weight. In addition to exercise, participating in Intramural Sports is also a great way to manage stress and to give a student a quick break from their studies. Many students have used their weekly Intramural Sports games as a way to relieve the stress of school, life, or whatever else they are dealing with.

Work AND Play

One of the newer benefits to participating in Intramural Sports is that we now offer the students the opportunity to play in the sport that they work. This means that if a student is working for basketball as a referee, they can also create or join an Intramural basketball team and enjoy playing in the league. This means you can still get your work hours in AND relieve a little stress in the same night. This policy allows students to have the best of both worlds — to both compete and work in their favorite sport.

Free T-Shirt Opportunity

The general consensus about college students is that they are obsessed with opportunities for free t-shirts. Whether it is their attendance at a Liberty basketball game or staying until the fourth quarter at a football game, t-shirts are a huge motivating factor for college student’s participation. This remains the same for Intramural Sports. Many students have expressed their determination to win the championship in their league because of the bragging rights that wearing an Intramural Champion t-shirt brings.

Intramural Sports is a great contribution to a student’s college experience. Because of its influence on building friendships, promoting a healthy lifestyle, and providing a fun competitive environment, Intramural Sports has become a huge factor in what students look forward to every year. Have we convinced you to sign up? Visit Liberty.edu/IMS to learn more about Intramural Sports & register for the Fall Season!

Preparing for Your First Rock Wall Visit

August 20, 2021

Written by Kylie Tidmore, Rock Wall Monitor

In the two years that I have worked at the LaHaye Rock Wall, I have encountered countless people that “really want to come climb, but they are nervous or intimidated.” I have heard countless people say they wish they had taken advantage of the rock wall while they had the opportunity.

First of all, at the wall we love new climbers! Most people will agree that the best part of climbing is the community—and you being a part of that community will only make the experience better! If you’re nervous, use this blog to learn some basic rock wall lingo as well as some at home exercises you can do to prepare for your first rock wall visit.

Checking In

When you come to the rock wall, the first thing you will see is our silver desk, shining brightly with the sun’s reflection. We will be sitting behind it, smiling, and ready to welcome you in! You will have the option to climb on the bouldering wall, the grasshopper board, or the auto-belay tower.

We do have free shoe rentals as well, but a lot of climbers do bring their own shoes. If you find yourself wanting to pursue this sport, check out some great options for climbing shoes on REI’s website!

Bouldering and Hold Types

Bouldering is a shorter version of climbing. When bouldering, no ropes are used and the climber falls safely onto a padded surface when they are done. The bouldering wall, as well as the tower, is covered in brightly covered rocks that we call holds. If you were to walk around and try out these holds, you would notice that there are different shapes and grips required to use these.

Jug

The easiest hold is called a jug and is a deep pocket in a rock where you are able to hold on well.

Crimp

Another type is called a crimp, where the rock is a thin edge on the top and the climber may only be able to get their fingertips on the hold.

Pinch

Another type is called a pinch, where the climber has to literally pinch the hold to stay on. The last major hold we often use is a sloper, which looks like a ball, and the climber has to hold with an open palm.

Exercises to Get You Ready

Climbing uses a unique set of muscles other exercises typically do not utilize, including hand and finger strength. Going into climbing slowly and carefully, with adequate warmups, is crucial to avoid straining a weak muscle that has not been trained yet. Pushups are a popular exercise for climbers because they counteract the muscles used to pull the climber up the wall. Climbers also like using hangboards which are specifically designed for rock climbers to train and condition for climbing. During quarantine, I found myself hanging on door frames and bricks that stuck out from my house, as a makeshift hangboard. Doing these exercises builds up finger strength, but again should be done gradually. Another easy ‘diy’ is taking a block of wood and attaching a rock, or other weight to it, and seeing how long you can pinch it (mimicking a pinch or sloper hold). If you’re serious about training, check out this link from REI on creating your own hangboard at home!

See You Soon!

Now that you have become more familiar with how the LaHaye Rock Wall operates, I hope you will have the confidence to come and see us this semester! Again, we love welcoming new people and want to help you fall in love with climbing just like we have! Grab some friends who are up for a challenge and head to the wall. Want to experience a class first? Check out our Fall 2021 offerings here!

Using a Treadmill for a Great Workout

July 26, 2021

Written by Heather Salvia, Associate Director of Fitness & Programs

On those days when you can’t workout outside, a treadmill can be a great indoor exercise tool. If you have ever thought working out on a treadmill sounds boring, you aren’t alone, but here are a couple of engaging, versatile workouts with varying intensity to try on the treadmill next time you are stuck indoors.

The Walk-Run

This workout is good for someone who doesn’t love to run for long periods of time, or someone getting back into running. The alternating of walking/running will also break up the impact. Incline can be between 0-2 or more if desired.

  • Start off with a 1-mile warm-up – light jog around 4.5mph
  • At the 1-mile mark, boost up your speed (between 5.5-6.5mph) for ¾ of a mile
  • Turn the speed down to brisk walking pace and walk for ¼ mile
  • Repeat this interval (can increase speed during the run beyond 6.5 if fitness level allows) for between 20-45 minutes
  • Cool down with a 1-mile walk

Mile Repeats

This workout is good for anyone who is looking into increase their speed in running or just looking for an overall good workout. Incline can be between 0-2 or more if desired.

  • Start off with a 1-mile warm-up – light jog around 4-4.5mph or a comfortable pace
  • Walk for ¼ mile to prepare for the 1st-mile repeat
  • After ¼ mile turn up your speed to your desired pace and run as fast as you can sustain for 1-mile
  • Turn the speed down to walking and recover for 4 minutes
  • 2nd mile-repeat – run as fast as you can sustain for 1-mile, seeing if you can keep your same pace or beat it
  • Turn the speed down to walking and recover for 4 minutes
  • 3rd mile-repeat
  • Turn the speed down to walking and recover for 1-mile

Incline Sprints (Hop-on/Hop-off)

This workout is more advanced and for anyone looking to amp up their conditioning. In the beginning of the workout, take a few practice rounds to make sure you can grab the rails and safely step off the treadmill during rest periods.

  • Rounds: 10
  • Speed: 10 mph
  • Incline: 10%
  • Work Period: 10 seconds
  • Rest Period: 10 seconds

The treadmill can be a great tool for a variety of conditioning work – if you know how to use it! I hope this blog gave you some ideas and inspiration for your next treadmill workout.

Upgrade Your Exercise: Swimming for Fitness

March 19, 2021

Written by Morgan Segner, Aquatics Manager & Swim Instructor

Swimming has long been seen as one of the best full-body exercises and can strengthen almost all major muscle groups without the concern of injuries associated with high-impact workouts. It acts as a physical and neural exercise through breathing exercises and the use of sharpened focus. In this blog, we’ll review all of the positive roles learning to swim and swimming for fitness plays to your overall health.

Swimming as a Full Body Workout

Since swimming is a high endurance sport, it allows anyone choosing to swim for cardio purposes a way to burn off a great deal of calories. As a rule, swimmers burn around 3 calories/mile per total body weight.  So a 220lb swimmer would burn around 660 calories/mile depending on the intensity. Swimming as a cardio workout compared to running is usually judged at a 4:1 ratio—this means that when you swim one mile you’re burning as many calories as a four mile run!  You can also differ your swimming strokes and techniques to work and train different muscle groups.

Freestyle — works your arm muscles the most, mainly your biceps and triceps, as well as your calf muscles with the kick.

Breaststroke — works your glutes and quadriceps muscles with the kick, and your pectoral chest muscles.

Backstroke — engages the latissimus dorsi or lats, your lower back muscles, and the triceps.

Butterfly — tones and strengthens your shoulder and arm muscles, mostly your deltoids and triceps, and well as your upper back and neck muscles.

Whether an experienced or amateur swimmer, it is possible to work major muscle groups that you may not be able to work with other forms of cardio—all while burning tons of calories!

Low Impact

Swimming is often hailed as the go-to exercise for athletes and non-athletes looking to recover or rest from certain injuries without further aggravating or damaging those areas. The resistance of the water while exercising allows swimmers vigorous activity at a low impact to joints and most muscle groups. If you are looking for a workout when you’re concerned about joint pain, looking to reduce muscle fatigue, or relive stress on certain muscles, swimming is definitely a great choice.

Hypoxic Workouts and the Neural Benefits of Swimming

Hypoxic workouts are best explained as a vigorous activity with limited use of oxygen. When swimming, this is best practiced as going longer with more strokes with less breaths or no breaths until the other side of the pool is reached. Hypoxic workouts are quite easily achieved when swimming since normally your face is submerged in the water, and your body is performing one of the stroke techniques. Hypoxic workouts are seen by some researchers as a decent way of improving aerobic capacity, essentially training the body to use oxygen more efficiently when exercising, however it is not universally agreed upon. That aside hypoxic workouts have other benefits:

  • Since you are breathing less, hypoxic workouts allow you to focus more on your stroke technique and address issues in form and allows for a more accurate movement patterns in the water.
  • Better control in open water is another benefit of hypoxic workouts. This is beneficial when swimming in rougher waters like the ocean and a regular breathing pattern may not be reliable.
  • Hypoxic workouts are a great way to warmup for a regular swim since they boost your heart rate without having to go a long distance or pushing yourself too hard. With your heart rate high, you can then do a regular swim while burning more calories.

When performed correctly and safely, hypoxic workouts can also help to improve focus in the water and are considered by some to be a form of aerobic meditation. There are many similarities between hypoxic workouts and popular breath control techniques that both help to reduce stress, improve focus, and improve energy levels for the day.

Swim Fitness

Though often seen as a very demanding exercise in terms of technique and form, swimming is a high-intensity aerobic exercise that can be performed by anyone with proper training. Swimming provides efficient forms of strength training, vigorous cardio, and low-impact/recovery workouts with the added benefits of higher energy levels and reduced stress if done properly. LaHaye Rec & Fit offers Swim Fitness and private swim classes for anyone interested in improving their technique or simply looking for a great cardio workout. So, if this interested you, get to a pool and start swimming!

What is the Grasshopper Board?

March 4, 2021

Written by Kylie Tidmore, LaHaye Rock Wall Manager

The LaHaye Rock Wall is a special place that hosts a unique, eclectic community who comes together to solve puzzles that flex their minds and bodies. Through the variety of competitions, challenges, and new sets the LaHaye Rock Wall has to offer, strangers have become unified friends as they work through problems and encourage others in their pursuits. The newly installed Grasshopper Board is a really neat training technology tool that can help advance anyone’s climbing skills—but it’s also much more than that. The Grasshopper Board is the newest thing at the wall that the community can use to come together.

So, What is it?

The Grasshopper Board features a variety of holds and uses an app to light up different routes. The app is super easy to navigate and houses a variety of problems at all difficulty levels, making it easy for climbers of every skill level to get involved.

Through the app, users have the opportunity to light up the board with any of the problems listed. One of the coolest features is the ability to create your own problems for the board. You simply select the holds you want and specify which are for feet only, start holds, and finish holds. Which, let me say, is WAY easier than dragging out ladders to set on any of the other walls we have!

Create Your Own Routes

In my almost three years working at the LaHaye Rock Wall, setting has consistently been one of my favorite parts of the job (despite the aforementioned dragging out of ladders). This part of the job has challenged me as a climber myself and as a part of the community—we, as setters, have the desire to create things other people would rally around as well.

But now, through the Grasshopper Board, everyone gets to be a setter! It has been so cool to see climbers show their friends their new problems and it has been inspiring, as an employee, to see people with no setting experience use their creativity to create some super cool problems! The app does not only display sets created by the Liberty community; it also provides sets created by climbers around the world. Meaning, there is nearly an endless supply of boulder problems! This allows the Liberty community to climb sets by people like Josh Larsen, an Olympic Route Setter, and Nathaniel Coleman, an American professional climber, from the comfort of the gym they know and love.

The Grasshopper board is incredibly well done and has given the rock wall at LaHaye Recreation & Fitness Center a new and exciting edge. The board is open to all and we encourage you to give it a shot! Make a reservation here to try it for yourself.

Women on Weights

February 19, 2021

Written by Tabitha Earwood, Personal Training Manager

As a personal trainer, I hear women say these two phrases all the time: “Lifting weights will make you bulky,” and “I don’t want to be bulky—I just want to be toned!” Nothing is more frustrating for me than these two misconceptions. Since our perceptions shape what we do, believing something that isn’t rooted in fact can lead us to avoid the very practices that could help us grow. One of my passions is helping women understand their body’s physiology so they can be empowered to make educated choices.

I Promise, You Won’t Look Like a Man

Female physiology just doesn’t allow us to gain a masculine physique. Because males have more testosterone than females, women aren’t able to gain muscle at the same rate or size as men. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends similar general guidelines for both men and women, including strength training 2-3 days per week.

Carbs Can Equal Curves

Strength training can introduce you to a whole new world of understanding about your body’s physiology. Most people don’t realize that building muscle is one of the only effective ways to speed up your metabolism. The only two places that your body stores carbs as fuel (in the form of glycogen) is in your liver and muscles. Having more muscle increases your insulin sensitivity, which means that the cells of your body use glucose more effectively. Muscles are calorie-burning machine that we should all want more of!

Build Those Bones

What most women don’t know is this: bone mass usually peaks in a person’s mid to late 20s. Later in life you, cannot regain lost bone density; you can only slow down the rate of loss. Now is your time to build those bones to decrease the risk of developing osteoporosis. Strength training exerts healthy stress which stimulates bone growth, and it is the only way to improve your bone density.

Control What You Can

Everyone has something they want to change about themselves. Some things can be changed, and others cannot. One of the reasons I love strength training is that it helps you channel all your energy toward something you can control. You can control your effort. You can control your form. You can choose to show up consistently. While you can’t reduce fat in specific areas, you can train specifically to gain muscle in certain areas! 

Start Where You Are

Everyone in the gym started somewhere, and I can guarantee no one was born knowing exactly what to do. You must start somewhere. Your first step could be Googling exercise techniques. You could download any number of apps, including Apple Fitness, Motify, Freeletics, or Nike Training Club. Take it one thing at a time, and know that you won’t get it perfect the first time. Repetition is key.

Bring a Friend

Bringing a friend can also help to eliminate the nerves of trying something new. Just remember, you are not alone! The Women on Weights Workshop offered Saturday, March 6 is your opportunity to learn the fundamentals of strength training with other women just like you. Together, we will delve into basic movement patterns, learn the fundamentals of using free weights, and discuss how to create your own individualized plan to see steady progress. You can register for the workshop 24 hours in advance through the Membership Portal.

Ask for Help

Your next step could be reaching out the personal trainers at LaHaye to schedule a free consultation. Getting a professional to guide you can help to eliminate all the fears of not knowing what to do. Regardless of how scared you may feel, not doing anything at all is even scarier. You will grow both mentally and physically by learning to strength train. Taking the risk to try something new will be worth it!

New Year, New Fitness Opportunities

December 21, 2020

Written by Alivia Chenoweth, Marketing Manager

You’ve probably heard the saying “new year, new me” for as long as you can remember. At the beginning of every year, the pressure to set goals to be healthier, be more productive, and ultimately to seek out self-improvement in some form looms over us. What if this year we put the pressure aside and stayed true to ourselves? The busyness of life will always take priority over our fitness goals, health goals, etc. but we should strive for accountability in keeping ourselves physically and mentally healthy.

At Campus Recreation we offer programs that assist you to stay on track such as Personal Training, Group Exercise Classes, Intramural Sports, and nine facilities that are here to meet your needs and holistic well-being during your time at Liberty. So, this year, take 2021 by the reins, and seek to be your best self in all phases of life. To help with this, we are offering some great deals on all our fitness programming at LaHaye Recreation & Fitness Center, so check them out below!

Group Ex Classes

We offer over 70 Group Ex classes a semester, with a variety of free standard Group Ex classes and Group Ex Plus classes available with a Group Ex Plus Membership. Group Ex modalities include cardio, strength, mind and body, and combination classes –something for everyone. Some examples are:

  • Cycle Coach by Color
  • Barre Above
  • Cardio Hip Hop
  • Core & Glute Max Out
  • HIIT 30
  • Yoga

From January 1–February 15, all Group Ex Plus memberships will be offered at 20% off regular price. So, instead of $40 a semester, you can get access to all of our classes for just $32! This is an incredible deal that you and your friends can purchase together and make it a habit to go to classes together.

Personal Training

The team of Personal Trainers at LaHaye Rec & Fit is here to help you feel healthy and reach your fitness goals while also educating you about different types of exercises and correct form to prevent injury.

Interested, but not sure if a Personal Trainer is the best option for you? We offer FREE consultations to all students, staff, and faculty who are potentially looking to sign-up with a Personal Trainer. This is a great way to meet our team and discuss what your goals are before you sign-up.

You can choose from our available Tier 1, 2 or 3 trainers who will go over what you are wanting, create a personalized workout plan just for you based on your needs, and work with you every step of the way to achieve your goals!

As a special semester deal between Jan. 1–Feb. 15, all Tier 1 Personal. Partner, or Group Training Packages will be offered at a 10% off discount! Check out all the information you need to know here on our website.

Get to Know LaHaye Rec & Fit

Did you know that you can schedule a facility orientation request with our team? If you want to use the machines and equipment at LaHaye Rec & Fit but aren’t sure where to start or how to use them, you are able to schedule a time where a staff member will give you a “tour” of all the equipment and show the proper use of each one.

There’s no need to feel intimidated when you walk into the gym. LaHaye Rec & Fit offers a wide variety of high-grade equipment to aid you in every workout you do. Knowing how to use it correctly is even more important to prevent future injury and to achieve the best results.

From Group Ex classes to everything that our Personal Training program has to offer, we are here to help you meet your goals and to provide flexibility in your workout schedule as you see fit. So, what are you waiting for? Sign up for a Group Ex class this semester or schedule a free consultation with a Personal Trainer and show 2021 who’s boss.

Learn more at Liberty.edu/CampusRec.

Take a Deep Breath for Longevity

December 4, 2020

Written by Heather Callahan, Associate Director of Fitness & Programming

Take a moment and set a timer for one minute. Make a tally of how many breaths you take during that minute. Try not to change or think too much about the span of the breath, try to breathe as comfortably as possible.

It is likely that you took about 12-20 breaths during that minute – which is the average for a human being. Now let’s look at a tortoise – they take an average of four breaths per minute. Comparing life spans, tortoises live an average of 98 years longer than human beings.

So, does breathing have something to do with longevity? Health research concludes this as a yes – good breathing practices are positively correlated to decreased mortality risk. Here’s why.

Breathwork Induces Stress Resilience

What is stress resilience? This is your body’s natural reaction to stressors in your environment. Having a good resilience to stress is a very good thing. Breathing practices bring you quickly to the present moment, which helps to reduce stress, symptoms of anxiety, depression and PTSD.

There are two important components of your autonomic nervous system:

Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) – “Fight or Flight”

Parasympathetic Nervous System (PSNS) – “Rest and Digest”

If you are familiar with these terms, you may have heard that good breathing practices help stimulate the PSNS, which is good for all your normal bodily functions.

When you have stress resilience from a good breathwork practice, you achieve sympathovagal balance, enhancing your body’s reactivity to all environmental (physical and mental) stressors, so you can more appropriately activate your SNS and PSNS nervous systems. It’s all about balance.

Easy Breathwork Practices to Start

The current global landscape is stress and anxiety-inducing already. Wearing a mask for prolonged periods of time may limit the depth of breath you can take and the amount of oxygen taken in during that breath, which will stimulate the sympathetic nervous system and increase the heart rate.

Because wearing a mask is currently something we are required to do, whether during work or grocery shopping, or in enclosed spaces, it is important to have good breathing habits whenever you are not wearing it to maintain good health.

Important note: breathwork practices should never cause stress and anxiety, so if you are experiencing that during any breathwork, come back to a comfortable, steady breath. It can be a good habit to take a few normal breaths between rounds of your breath practices.

Breathing Exercises to Try

Deep Abdominal Breath

This breath can be done anytime you need to slow down and relax. When we take a deep abdominal breath, it encourages the use of our diaphragm (primary muscle of relaxed breathing).

How to do it:

You can lay on your back or sit tall in your chair with your eyes open or closed, softly. Relax your jaw and tongue away from the roof of the mouth. Take an inhale and let the belly expand outwards, sending your breath down. On your exhale through your nose, slowly draw the belly button towards your spine. Elongate the breath to your comfort level. Repeat for 1-2 minutes.

4-7-8 Breath

 This technique can be done to alleviate stress and anxiety, and learning how to breath more slowly with control. Only practice this if you feel comfortable holding your inhale for 7 seconds.

How to do it:

Lay down or sit tall in your chair with your eyes closed or open, softly. Relax your jaw and tongue away from the roof of the mouth. Inhale for 4 seconds (counts), holding the breath in for 7 counts. Slowly exhale for 8 counts out of your mouth. Repeat for 1-2 minutes, longer if desired.

 

Conditioning Ideas for Intramural Outdoor Soccer

October 30, 2020

Written by Hayley Swenski, Intramural Sports Outdoor Soccer Supervisor

When training for soccer, it is vital for players to build up their strength and endurance to not only excel on the field, but also to help prevent injury. Staying hydrated, eating smart foods and being well rested are also key factors in increasing performance on the field and aiding in recovery between workouts. Remember to always include a proper warm-up and cool-down in each of your workouts, and don’t be afraid to listen to your body. If you feel too sore, tired, or have a possible injury, it is okay to take time to let your body rest and recover before starting another workout. However, it is still important to push yourself while you are completing your workout. The only way to get better is to work hard and push your body past what you think you can do. Your fitness and skills will develop over time, so be consistent and you will see results faster than you may think!

When developing your training, be sure to include strength training, endurance training, and interval training for optimal results. Here are three different workouts that you can complete in a week to develop all around strength and conditioning to improve your soccer abilities.

Strength Training

Complete 4 rounds with a 1-minute rest between rounds.

  • 12 push-ups
  • 20 total walking lunges
  • 15 burpees
  • 20 bodyweight squats
  • 20 crunches
  • 10-yard sprint

Interval Training

  • 2 mile run under 13 minutes – rest 3 minutes
  • 6 shuttle sprints at 5, 10, 15, and 20 yards – rest 1 minute between shuttles
  • ½ mile run under 3 ½ minutes

Endurance Training

Complete 4 rounds one way, then 4 rounds the other way.

  • Sprint 20 yards
  • Shuffle left 20 yards
  • Back petal 20 yards
  • Shuffle right 20 yards

Overall, remember to just have fun. If you aren’t enjoying your training, try new workouts and exercises to keep yourself motivated and excited to workout. Grab a friend, a soccer ball, and some open space and get to work!

 

Breathing While Running

October 8, 2020

Written by Nikki Kilian, Fitness Coordinator

During my sophomore year of college, I signed up for the advanced running class (Phys Ed 236). I had enjoyed running but wanted to learn how to be better at it. I was looking for a technical formula and concrete answer. What I gained was so much better. One of the many questions I had about how to improve my running was how to breathe. To unfold this idea, first you need to determine your goals: Are you doing interval training or distance running?

Interval Training

If you are conducting sprints, you will get out of breath. The key here is to get breathless, let yourself recover, and then sprint again. (Do not go breathless if your doctor advises you not to, if you have a medical condition, or if you are pregnant).

The benefit to doing sprints is that you will achieve maximum caloric burn in a short amount of time and doing high intensity interval training (HIIT) actually allows your body to continue burning calories throughout the day. This is because aerobic activity causes excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC).

Distance Running

When aiming for distance, a good rule of thumb is to run at a conversational pace, as advised by the legendary Dr. Horton. (if you don’t know him, take PhysEd 235 or 236—it’s a good time.)

Now to some, and to myself at the time, talking while running may seem like a malicious form of torture. But it works. If you are able to carry on a conversation with the person next to you, then you are able to breathe well while running. In a conversational pace, you should be able to run for a while (approximately 26.2 miles, speaking from experience).

If you are looking for a new personal record (PR) then you may need to increase the pace a bit, which would then make it harder to keep up a conversation. At this pace, make sure you can still speak 3-5-word sentences somewhat regularly. If you are gasping for air, then you are not at a maintainable pace.

Variables to Consider

Hills
Hills will make your entire body work harder from your cardiorespiratory system, to your musculoskeletal system. Therefore, anticipate breathing heavier on hills. Tip: In Dr. Horton’s running class, he advocated for walking hills. Dr. Horton explained that your heart rate running on flat road was approximately the same as power walking up a steep hill. So feel free to walk uphill!

Weather
Weather can also play a significant role in your respiratory capability. Humidity and heat, specifically, can make breathing evenly a bigger challenge. On these days, try to run in the morning before the heat or humidity, indoors if that is an option, or alternate walking and running.

Yourself
Lastly, you will be a variable. You will feel different every day. Some days you may get out of breath faster, and that’s okay. Give yourself grace and do not be too hard on yourself. Allow yourself the freedom to walk if you need to. Listen to your body and respond with what it is asking you to do.