The Toxic 10

Running in Glasgow Green
 

Ever wondered why the first 10 minutes of exercise (particularly running) are sometimes so hard? Find yourself incredibly out of breath, even though you workout regularly? 

You’re probably in one of two camps:

- You find the first 10 minutes so tough, that you never exercise for longer than this without stopping (understandable!)

- You train regularly, have achieved some impressive results and consider yourself very fit, yet still, at the start of every session you feel like you’re back to square one. 

Sound familiar? Well, you’re not alone. 

You’re experiencing what’s called The Toxic 10. It sounds pretty drastic, but in fact it is just the process everyone’s body goes through (even elite athletes!) at the start of aerobic exercise. When you start exercising, your muscles need more oxygen, but your body isn’t ready to up the supply right away. So you develop what’s called an oxygen debt, as you use up more than your aerobic systems can supply. 

Once oxygen in the blood becomes particularly low, your brain takes action to remedy this, making your breathing more heavy and your heart pump stronger. This is the point at which you sometimes wonder why you hadn’t stayed at home in front of the TV, with a bowl of snacks! 

It takes a little while to pay off your oxygen debt and clear any accumulated lactic acid, and so this is why the first 10 minutes can be so hard. 

So what does this mean for you? 

Well, if you are among those who exercise for no longer than 10 minutes without stopping, the good news is that it does get better! If you push through the Toxic 10, you will find your breathing slows and you settle into a nice rhythm. Exercising will become fun, even relaxing and you’ll realise you are really quite good at it! So it really is worth defeating the initial discomfort to reap the rewards.  

If you’re a regular exerciser, there is no need to worry that you aren’t making progress, it’s just biology doing its thing! 

Let’s take an example such as running. If you’re aiming for a time over a long distance, try running varied splits. To help ease the effects of the first few minutes, run mile 1 and 2 at a slower than normal pace. Then run your middle distance a little faster than average, and slow it back down near the end when muscle fatigue kicks in. You’ll still be hitting your target average pace, while making life a little easier for yourself. 

Test this theory with the Glasgow Club! Find a treadmill in one of our 22 gyms across the city, or join in with a running network session, free for Fitness Unlimited members. 

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