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Background: I wasn't the fittest kid -- still not as an adult -- and I wasn't fond of running, as I'd get exhausted quickly and/or get a side-ache/stitch. In general I avoided exerting myself.

On one occasion, when I was about 10 years old, I remember running home from school and not getting exhausted at all. This was about 1 mile. Normally, I could only get to maybe a 1/3 of a mile before I was out of breath and had to walk.

This really surprised me and I tried repeating it multiple times without success.

It felt as though my stride + heart + respiration were all in "sync", figuratively. But I couldn't figure out how to "resync" them.

Question: Is there a term for this? And/or training to improve it?

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    You experienced a coincidence. Kind of like when you are in a left turn lane and you see all of the left turn signals slowly coming into sync. Since those are mechanical and on timers it will happen again. You may, or may never, notice this again. It isn't, however, indicative of fitness level. – BryceH Sep 3 '14 at 19:27
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    I think what you described in your question is referred to as a Runner's High? – derPoltergeist Sep 16 '14 at 10:07
  • @Grohlier, I'd say that's quite the coincidence. You don't believe there's any apparent causal connection, as to why it was so easy for me, on that one occasion? – Byran Zaugg Sep 17 '14 at 20:29
  • When I say "in sync", I mean figuratively. I edited the question to reflect that. – Byran Zaugg Oct 13 '14 at 2:04
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It's doubtful your heart rate was in sync; you can't really state that without monitoring. You can measure your stride: it's usually around 160 (strides per minute), with a lot of conventional running gurus touting 180 as better for a variety of reasons.

Your breathing and stride can be matched up and this whole thing is known as locomotor-respiratory coupling patterns, and the strides go by PSF (preferred stride frequency).

There was a study in 2012 that analyzed this a bit, and one of the interesting findings is that you're not that efficient at any particular coupling pattern:

Variability in coupling was the greatest during PSF, indicating an exploration of coupling strategies to search for the coupling frequency strategy with the least oxygen consumption. Contrary to the belief that increased strength of frequency coupling would decrease oxygen consumption; these results conclude that it is the increased variability of frequency coupling that results in lower oxygen consumption.

Granted, that study was with walkers, but I think it still holds weight. The net of it for me is that there's more than one coupling, and moving between them is where the best results are.

Anecdotally, the better your base of fitness the easier it will be for you to change up your stride, increase your VO2 max, and overall have an easier time of shifting your couplings around.

  • Great information. I will look into those. – Byran Zaugg Oct 13 '14 at 2:07

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