My POWERbreathe – by Josephine Gull

Josephine is a long-time POWERbreathe user, loyal friend of POWERbreathe and a valued athlete to us all here at POWERbreathe Towers.

Josephine has over time provided in-depth feedback on her training, including her POWERbreathe training, and the benefits and achievements she’s made as a result. Please read all Josephine’s posts here as they make for a very interesting and inspiring read.

Here are just a few additional posts Josephine has made on the POWERbreathe Facebook page which she shared with all POWERbreathe friends:

16 April 2012

“My coach estimated a sharp Personal Best within my grasp if I can replicate what I’ve done in training. Looking back to last year and the beginning of 2012, it’s night and day. At least 50% of that amazing progress in such a short time is due to my POWERbreathe. It is thanks to it that I had the strength and endurance to lift the weights, run the distance and recover faster. The running almost feels effortless and every footstrike is powerful. I’m even starting to look forward to the 200, which is a huge step from end of December beginning of January and finally setting an official new Personal Best in the event outdoor.
The comp season kicks off on sunday and will last through to September, so my POWERbreathe will practically be sleeping in my sportsbag til the end of the season…POWERbreathe wont be visible much except during warm up and cool down.”

14 March 2012

“Hi! I’m currently POWERbreathing at lvl 2 (high resistance) & I just wanted to let you know, that it took roughly the same amount of effort to POWERbreathe this lvl twice a day as it did to weightlift a new Personal Best on all apparatus in the gym on monday. First it was tough, then it became easier. I’ve struggled with the snatch exercise ever since I started, so to finally have enough speed to do it right was fantastic. And that wasn’t all, yesterday I came close to my 100m time from last year & the season hasn’t even started yet 🙂 Today my sports masseuse told me I’m in great shape & ready for anything, so it just keeps getting better. I knew POWERbreathe was great, but this much progress shortly after restarting POWERbreathing at lvl 2 last week, I honestly didn’t expect such fast results :D”

“The reason why it works so well for me, is that it costs slightly less effort and energy to perform an exercise and it leaves room for me to relax and enjoy the experience more. The more relaxed I am, the less energy I waste and the more i can do. Logical, but the increased endurance of my lungs is that stepping stone. When you get to lvl 2 and above it really takes time and effort to keep on advancing and it’s roughly the same as it takes to explode with weights or out of the blocks. Once you get started it gets easier and towards the end a little heavier again.”

31 January 2012

“The BIGGEST THANK YOU goes to all you at POWERbreathe for the part you play in developing & marketing this product & to all POWERbreathers out there, because each and every one (incl. all who aren’t posted on FB) is a living witness of the amazing effects of POWEbreathe. Those of you who have overcome asthma, slowed MS, recovered from COPD and all other problems, you have done what the doctors couldn’t do despite their far more extensive & expensive resources. When things are down, your success stories inspire me to keep fighting, so be mighty proud of what you have achieved & know that I am proud of all of you.”

We thank Josephine for sharing these comments with us all. If you’d like to send Josephine a message, then please leave a comment for her here.

If you are using POWERbreathe to improve running performance then we’d love to hear from you too.

My 2012 indoor competition season from POWERbreathe start to POWERbreathe finish

It’s been quite a while since I last wrote a blog post for POWERbreathe. The truth is, I’ve been so busy that I simply haven’t had time to sit down and put it all down on paper. I’ve posted a number of my greatest moments from the current indoor season on POWERbreathe’s Facebook page, so some of you may recognise bits and pieces here and there. I hope you enjoy reading this anyway. Happy reading everybody.

December

Since I last blogged, a lot has happened. For starters, I was out with a shin injury for two weeks after a failed jump exercises at the track mid December. The cut was deep, so the wound required 2 whole weeks just to close properly. During that time I couldn’t run nor didn’t strength train, but it stop me from POWERbreathing. As soon as I was allowed to return to strength training (only light core stability), I took my POWERbreathe with me to up the challenge and I can tell you that it sure did. Try doing the exercise right and controlling your breathing to match it at the same time. It’s like patting your head and stroking your stomach and then switching and end up patting your stomach and stroking your head. It was a nice physical and mental challenge to get my mind off missing out on the real tough workout on the track. After that it was still another week before I could get back out on the track. By that time it was almost Christmas and I flew home for the holidays, with my POWERbreathe tucked into the left side-pocket of my laptop back pack.

January

While I was still abroad, I kept up both POWERbreathing and strength training as best I could to maximise my chances of getting ready in time for the indoor competition season. The first comp was a test drive and it was run purely on the strength in my legs and my POWERbreathe strong lungs. After working on the start a bit, things started to look very promising. On January the 20th, I set a new PB in the 50m and just two days later I equalled my 60m PB in the first round and later that same day I set a new PB. I didn’t do much on the 22nd, but a good physical and mental warm up was what pulled me through. I started by warming up with my POWERbreathe, then some jogging, then sticking to what I had planned out for the drills and finally some short sprints. All I remember from that great PB race is that I reacted to the gun and the next moment I was already crossing the finish line. What an amazing feeling! You might be surprised that I use my POWERbreathe so much even though I am just a short distance sprinter, but it works. There is not a whole lot of breathing involved in sprinting as it is an anaerobic activity, but the strength of the lungs required to set the body in motion is a lot more than one would think. During practice many sprints after each other takes its toll and strong lungs and good breathing can minimise that fatigue. It is also the overall physical strength of every muscle involved in sprinting, which causes the amazing relaxation down the stretch that I felt.

Düsseldorf, Germany

On the 29th of January I took part in a comp in Düsseldorf. After two hours of driving I reached the Indoor track and field sports arena. When I got there I felt thirsty and physically tired; my mouth was dry and my legs felt stiff. As the 60m drew nearer, I began my warm up. As always, I started the warm up with my POWERbreathe and surprise surprise, once again it came through for me; the dryness was gone and the stiffness was reduced. The POWERbreathe not only helped me physically, but mentally as well as it got me back in my comfort zone and set into motion what I have come to experience as the natural chain of events leading up to my race ready state. When it was time to set the block for the race, I was ready to take on the field; unfortunately the block was wobbly and I almost false started. Despite the weak start, I did everything in my power to set things right. Eventually, I fell just a tad short of setting a new PB, but with a start like that, it was a wonder I even got close. Next up was the 200 and if you would have known how much practice I had had for the 200, you would most likely not have encouraged me to try it; since November, when I was pretty much cruising through the 200 in 3rd gear and still setting the times on the clock, I had run absolutely nothing above 70m. However, if you would have had enough faith in me and my POWERbreathe, you would have encouraged me anyway. I went out hard of the blocks, then went into ‘cruise control’ mode for a while, then coming up to the curve I switched it off and put the pedal to metal to power up and through the curve to hit the home stretch, there I went into cruise control mode again and across the finish line. Life is not a fairy tale and I do not always win, but it was good none the less; no new PB, but I come close despite my zero 200m preparation. That 200 was pure power, POWERbreathe and guts.

February

When the big freeze hit Europe, all hope of a good preparation for the big meet on the 11th were dashed. The snow covered the track and the freezing cold temperatures impacted the muscles and lungs negatively and heavily.    Despite the cold, I was on that track with my coach, sprinting with 15kg weight resistance and exploding out of the blocks. I can tell you that the air feels a lot colder when it hits you full in the face, gets in your lungs and cools your muscles even while you are sprinting down the stretch. As if that wasn’t enough, the snow under the spike shoes turned to ice and made it even harder to stop. Not many people would have tried it, but we had little other choice and I can tell you that despite the harsh weather conditions, I improved a lot and I became more and more consistent in my technique and my stride frequency. But as it often happens, I came down with a heavy cold as a result of being exposed to too many hours of sub zero temperatures. Luckily though, my POWERbreathe pulled my lungs, breast and throat through quicker and a few days later I was back on the track. If you’ve ever tried exercising while you have a heavy cold that hits your breast, lungs and throat hard, then you now that it feels like a very slow crawl up a steep icy cliff and after every step you take you want to give up. I felt that way too, but I didn’t give up, because I was determined to do everything in my power to reach my goal. So, with the last strength left in my body, I POWERbreathed the full 30 breaths just under the level 2 marker (high resistance) and then fell asleep. The next morning my cold had greatly reduced and my throat was good to go. I then had another three good trainings in the cold. On Thursday the 9th of February the mercury was down good on the thermometer and I decided to put my POWERbreathe to the test. I warmed up my lungs with my POWERbreathe prior to going out to sprint in the freezing cold and it came through for me; the freezing cold took its toll on my legs, but my throat and lungs got off quite lightly. Another great win for POWERbreathe! Friday the 10th of February however was not as rosy. I had a long day at Uni and as the minutes and hours ticked by, I was feeling sicker and sicker, but I made it through the day. At home, I succumbed to the cold once again. With the big meet the next morning, which was the reason I had put in all those hours of hard work, I began to seriously worry. I even feared that if I went to bed, I would wake up with fever the next day and not be able to compete. Pretty stupid of me to worry about a meet, when my health was at stake, but having put myself through all that, I was so close to my goal and I didn’t want to miss out. So we prayed and I decided to go to sleep and hope for the best. Before I switched off the light however, I once again tried the POWERbreathe method. With the very last strength and breath left in my body, I POWERbreathed (level 2 marker, high resistance) and exhausted, I fell asleep.

The big meet

It was the 11th of February, the day of the big meet. Feeling better and able to breathe freely despite a painful throat, I got up, took my ready packed bag and drove to the big meet. I was not sure at all, but after warming up with my POWERbreathe, everything once again fell into place, but at the starting line my throat was getting worse and doubt was in control. I pushed my doubts away, ignored my desert dry and burning throat and set the thought of a painful knee joint out of mind. The gun went off and the race wan on. My start was not sharp enough and I was losing ground quickly, but then I fought my way back through the field and heading for the finish line I had made up a lot of lost ground. I did not win, but I did set a new PB once again. I rounded off my race by cooling-down with my POWERbreathe. Later that day, I equalled my PB in the final despite the fatigue and nausea from the cold having the upper hand. Had I been able to bring my A-game, then I could have literally smashed my 60m PB. A sign of things to come?

The reality is that the PB, set on the 11th of February, run on nothing but physical power, POWERbreathe and an iron strong will, is still the result of a bad race. Moreover, I came less than a tenth of a second short of the PB of my club mate who was top fit and having a great day. As it turns out, my new PB is also just two hundreds of a second away from my club’s top 10 all time indoor ranking. So much gained already, but so much more is still within my reach at this very early stage in the year. Despite the ups and downs, I have enjoyed more or less every minute on the track so far in 2012. I have rediscovered my joy, passion and talent for sprinting and I can’t wait to get back out there and perform. With this 60m pretty much nailed and my 200 well on its way, I am already that much closer to smashing my outdoor PBs as well.

For those of you who are interested, this is my game plan on race day (hence the title of this blog post):
1. POWERbreathe warm-up
2. Light jogging and stretching
3. Sprint specific drills
4. Full on sprints
5. Race
6. Chocolate milk
7. POWERbreathe cool-down

Josephine Gull – POWERbreathe breathing techniques training 3 weeks in

Winter training 3 weeks in

Time flies when you are having fun. I am already at the end of week 3 and my endurance and strength just keep on improving. Monday I managed to move up to slightly heavier weights for the legs and at the end of the training, doing 2×300, they were still going strong. Tuesday I overcame a major mental obstacle by completing 9 full 500s on the track with little rest between runs and this evening I overcame the physical obstacles too. I no longer had the mental obstacle, but because of pain on the outside of my feet for the past two days, I now had yet another physical one. The only way to overcome the pain was to keep up a fast pace all the way through and it went surprisingly well. Despite my left calf being full and hard from the start, I managed to push out it all the way to the finish. The rests were the most painful and I never thought I would see the day I that would actually rather run another 300 straight after than to first rest. That was a big enough victory for me. Adversity can make you stronger, teach you things, and if you learn from it and use it to your advantage, you will come out of it much stronger than you entered it. After this week, I don’t think I’ll ever look at the track the same way again; was it always that small and was 300 always that short? 🙂

POWERbreathe training week 3

I used my Ironman Plus (heavy resistance) to train my lungs on my training free day, but since Monday and Tuesday took its toll on the entire body and I was recovering, I turned it down by 1/4 to level 2.25 to get in a good breathing session and keep correct breathing techniques. When you are tired, don’t push for maximum because bad form will break you down instead of building you up; when you do it wrong you feel it clearly in places where you should not and you risk hurting yourself. Don’t get me wrong, you should push your limits, but not all the time. Giving a little now and then wont hurt and on days you feel strong and rested you can go ahead and challenge yourself.

Warm-up & cool down

Before every training session I use the POWERbreathe as a pre-warm-up and after as a post-cool down. This week, even though I only got in one real POWERbreathe session, I actually used it a lot;  warming up and cooling down with it every training. Warming up and having the energy to cool down with it does require some discipline, but the benefits are almost immediate and significant. Speed skaters use them straight after (many have special breathers with pure oxygen to speed up the process) and claim to recover faster with than without. I certainly got the message loud and clear this evening when my lungs could handle more right from the start. During the runs my breathing was more efficient and I managed to stay relaxed even when I got tired. I also made a big discovery; even though my mouth and throat was dry from the many runs, I was not short of breath, I no longer suffered from mild throw ups and uncontrolled stomach muscle contractions. Before, I would always put a peppermint in my mouth to prevent this from happening, because the mint tricks the brain into thinking that there’s fluid and that the mouth is no longer dry and your body no longer thirsty. This is great, because now I can leave the peppermint rolls at home and go as far, as long and as fast as I want without being stopped in my tracks 🙂 It is amazing how small things can make such a big difference.

That was it for now. Check back at the end of next week for part 3. Keep it fun & may the force be with you! 🙂

 

Josephine Gull – Breathing training with the POWERbreathe starts now

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.

Beginnings

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.

Getting started

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.

Week 2-4

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.