I have realised that this will be my last week using the basic 2 times a day training, then it will be onto bigger and brighter things!!
I have done a couple of new things this week to try and get the most out of the POWERbreathe, along with testing the Warm-Up/Cool Down features.
Training straight after a session
One strategy that I have done is to get onto the POWERbreathe straight after I have finished a session. This has been a real eye opener, and every time I do this I can feel a huge difference between the load I am using and also the quality of the session, it deteriorates a lot quicker. After a really good 20 mile long run in Richmond Park on Sunday, I was on the POWERbreathe K5 within 10 minutes of stopping. I got a number of strange looks as I walked across the car park and stood by my car with this black and orange contraption in my mouth, making rather strange noises! I could tell instantly how tired my breathing muscles were, the device was set to auto-load and I was using a load over 20 units less than usual, and it was still incredibly difficult! I think that it was a great session because it starts to load the muscles when they are already tired, and as long as not all my sessions are like that it can only be of benefit my inspiratory muscle training and breathing training.
One slightly weirder technique I have introduced is standing on one leg with the other leg up and thigh parallel to the ground, most runners will be familiar with this drill as a high knee style lift. Each breath I would alternate legs. It has been interesting experiment. I certainly feel I breathe stronger on one side over the other. I have only been using this as the last 10 breathes for each set, but I certainly feel it makes a bit of a difference.
One feature of both the breathe-link software and POWERbreathe K5 is the ability to manually load the session, instead of using auto-load. Whilst auto-load is useful to begin with, I think that after a while I want to make sure that I am getting a good quality session done. It would be very easy to put too much load in, so to make sure, I have only been making small increments, and this has only been once the volume of air moved has stabilised to the level it was at before.
So, for example I would set the load to 100 cmH2O. My usual average volume of air is 5 litres, however, the first time this would drop to 4.5. After a couple of sessions this would improve to around 5, so then it is time to turn the load up to 105 cmH20.
Problem with breathe-link software
One problem that I have with the K5 Breathe-Link software is it does not remember your training level every time you turn the program off. So if I set it up as manual and 105cmH2O, if I closed the program and opened it up in the morning it would set the training level to auto and v.light. Whilst it isn't a huge problem, it would be great if it left it at the last session by default. I have started a few sessions and realised that the settings are wrong. Not a huge issue, but the little things make all the difference. The K5 is set up to do the session you last did by default, so if you choose auto loading and light, then it will stay on this until you make the change in the settings area on the unit itself.
Warm up / cool down
One of the features that I most liked the look of is the warm up/cool down function that lives on the K5. Whilst it would certainly not be a reason to buy, I think that it has certainly helped me out of in a few sessions. Getting up early in the morning for a session is never fun, but going straight onto the POWERbreathe to get warmed up certainly helps to focus the mind and means that the session is usually better because of it. The cool down function is a bit of a novelty because I feel I can cool down on my own, but isn't a waste of time. I have a race this weekend, so I am taking the POWERbreathe along to use as part of my Warm Up strategy.