I have recently started the winter training and with that comes longer runs with very short rests in between sets, so this seems like the perfect time to get really active with the POWERbreathe. To get me through the winter training strong, I will need everything I can get to stay on top of things. Proper breathing exercises during runs ensures a more efficient use of oxygen and conservation of energy and also helps improve running performance. In fact, this applies to any sports; it's so essential that it applies just as much to your everyday life. I recommend everyone young and old, top fit and unfit to try it out now, with the days getting shorter and darker, challenge yourself to stay healthy and strong and come through the winter stronger than you entered. Embark on your very own journey and be prepared to be amazed. Over the course of the coming weeks, I will keep a blog to share with you my adventures and successes as I face obstacles both physical and mental and the sweet taste of success (hopefully) when I smash my PBs in 2012 with the help of POWERbreathe. I started using the POWERbreathe Plus heavy resistance a while back already so below you can read what my journey with this amazing product has been so far.
In May I joined my father on a business trip to Tanzania and apart from my morning sprints on the beach, I spent quite some time in the swimming pool. I wanted to do everything I could to keep fit for the upcoming national comps and since I knew that my lung capacity in the past had been a weak spot, I decided to try to increase my lung capacity and mental toughness by swimming underwater. After only 2 days I began to feel the benefits; longer time and more distance covered under water, more relaxed during runs and more endurance in the weight room. I kept this up for a few more days and when I got back, my sprint endurance had increased remarkably and I was more relaxed powering down the home stretch. I decided that I wanted to keep it up, but with 3 club trainings and a competition every week, adding a swimming session to the training program was not a very good idea and over time it could be quite costly. I had to find another way and I remembered that I had read about POWERbreathe quite a while back, so I decided to search the Internet. I liked what I found and I ordered the POWERbreathe Plus heavy resistance.
As soon as I got my POWERbreathe, I watched the instructional video to get an idea of how to use it. The getting started video was very handy, because as it turned out, I was among that majority who were breathing with their chest and shoulders instead of with the stomach. So, before I could even start with the POWERbreathe, I had to learn to breathe properly. Once I had mastered that (took around 30min.), I set my POWERbreathe to level 0 and started for real; even though it was just level 0, it proved quite a challenge the first time, because I still had to get used to proper breathing against resistance. I turned the knob ½ to ¾ turn at a time and stayed on that level for at least 2 sessions before I moved on. This was to ensure that I could easily handle the load before I stepped it up a gear, and the second I began breathing with my chest and shoulders, I turned it down ¼ turn to reinforce proper breathing technique.
The transition from 0 to 2 was quite easy and took just under a week and with every breathing session I felt stronger, better postured and more enduring. Week 2 through 4 was spent getting from level 2 to 3 and this proved quite a challenge. Level 2 was still quite easy, but 2.5 is where it got tough and the days rolled by without getting any further. I then began to add a relaxing mid-day run to the program, which quickly increased the distance and speed covered with every breathing session. Soon I was up to level 3 and this was the toughest challenge yet, but even this one shortly after became history. At 3.5 I was feeling stronger, faster and fitter than ever and with the 4 weeks up, I went back down to level 0 and started to incorporate some simple stretch and core stability exercises. Soon I was at 1.5 and still handling the extra load with ease. I moved back up to 3.5 on the normal breathing training but a very stubborn cold put a sudden stop to both my breathing and running sessions. I gave it everything I had, but level 3 proved too much. Turning it down to level 2.5 was easy at first, but when the cold hit my throat and lungs, I was back down to 2. The cold is now gone and I am gradually working my way back up again.
More than just strength
I used the POWERbreathe not only to strengthen my breathing muscles and to improve my breathing technique, but I also used it as part of my warm-up and cool down. Warming up with the POWERbreathe helps me to relax my body, get my mind focused and get those lungs working. It also ensures that a certain amount of oxygen gets to the muscles from the very start to get them ready too. Cooling down with the POWERbreathe relaxes my muscles and my mind and the increased oxygen I take in as a result of proper breathing seems to speed up my recovery time.