Breathing by the numbers – part 2

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We’ve looked at the numbers and I’ve explained why you would want to breathe in a 2 – 2 rhythm. In fact most of the world elite distance runners breathe in exactly the rhythms discussed. 2- 2 and then a 2 -1 when they’re pushing hard.

There is so much more to breathing than the physiology. Breathing is often an indication of a a state of mind. Think of how you breathe when in a panic, relaxed or excited. When you get a fright there is a sharp intake of breath. Your brain also change your breathing pattern based on your current state of mind. Luckily for us the feedback loop works both ways. We can influence our state of mind by controlling our breathing. Simply calming the breath can induce a calm state of mind and almost instantly reduce the stress related hormones like adrenaline and cortisol in your body.

Steady rhythmic breathing will help you run with a relaxed attentive state of mind. When you are in this state of mind you are able to ‘observe, PAUSE, think act’. The mindful practice then is to simply focus on your breathing. Find the rhythm you are comfortable with and focus on breathing. Each time your attention wanders bring it gently back to your breathing.

Breathing should be from the diaphragm. Imagine your chest cavity as an upright cylinder with your diaphragm at the bottom of it. Pulling the diaphragm down will cause air to flow into the cylinder. Relaxing the diaphragm will force air out of the cylinder. This type of breathing is also called belly breathing and it is used by many different practitioners in the martial arts, yoga, and various forms of meditation.

You can practice in a stationary position either sitting or lying down. Place one hand on your belly and one hand on your chest. On the inhale pull your diaphragm down and you should feel your belly raise followed by your chest rising as the air fills the top of your lungs. On the exhale start by pulling your navel towards your spine which will push air out of your lungs. Practice until you are confident and then take it to the road.

Stay upright with your chest open and shoulders wide. Avoid collapsing at the middle especially when climbing a hill as this severely limits your ability to get a lung full of air. Keep the mouth open and don’t be afraid or embarrassed of being a loud breather. Your body needs oxygen to function. When you are going faster you will need to breath heavier.

If you feel breathless it helps to take 2 or 3 very deep breaths exhaling rapidly and forcefully on each one. This can help to reduce the Carbon Dioxide levels in your lungs.

Enjoy the focus on breathing it can be a real game changer and I’d love to hear some feedback on how the Mindful practice texts are working for you.

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