Thursday, July 29, 2010

The flush

I think I got my “triathlete” diploma well before my first race. The confirmation that one is on the way of becoming a multisporter is the fact that we can perform a trouble free nose flush on each of the disciplines.

It only take a few outings to learn it, but once you master the technique, training and racing get a second wind. And this is no joke, even though we tend to breath by the mouth, a considerable amount of air still enters the body (and more importantly, it EXITS the body) through the nose. The exit bit is important, as otherwise we end up using air that's been circulating.

Two factors affect us during exercise. First, breathing through the nose limits air intake and forces one to SLOW down. The typical response to this is to start breathing through the mouth as well.  Secondly, when mouth breathing, the brain thinks carbon dioxide is being lost too quickly and sensing this, will stimulate the goblet cells to produce mucous, slow the breathing and cause constriction of blood vessels. This is the typical nasal congestion we get 20min into any workout.

I am pretty sure most of you out there often get the same problem, congestion, not enough puff and the old mucous flow downwards. The typical response is to flush the nose and keep on running (or biking, or swimming). At this point is when you can differentiate an experienced athlete from a newbie.

The experience athlete will coordinate the flush in this sequence:
1- flex the elbow to get an upward movement of the hand opposite the flow
2- stick middle and index finger together on the opposite side of the nose
3- backwards movement and 45 tilt of the head
4- big blow

the result is a homogenous bullet that hits the asphalt at speeds of over 100km/h.

On the other hand, the newbie will go into all sorts of trouble, the most common of them and their causes are identified below.
1- not enough tilt of the head = it all lands in the jersey, tee shirt
2- not enough power = a moving mass of stuff flying onto your arm, elbow, knee
3- not enough pressure on the opposite side of the nose = two ejections, one of them down your chest

Seriously, though, it’s quite important to make sure one can get as much air in and out of the lungs as the availability of Oxygen is what ultimately determines performance. Little issues like this one are the ones that added will save minutes on my next race.

So, if you are going to race me, be sure you are ahead, not on the side, not immediately behind.

Happy training

Date: 29 July
Sport: Cycling /// Running
Time: 70min /// 12min
Dist: n-a /// 2.5km
Comment: jeeez it was cold to run off the bike all covered in seat!


  1. Thanks for the technique tip! I always wonder if it's enough to blow just on one side.

  2. I'm going to need to add this as a weekly practice session. But you know where I get the most congested? Swimming. What's your tip for that?