I’m a runner; it’s part of who I am. There’s a whole sub-conversation to be had about what makes one a runner vs. a jogger; plus the subset of people who don’t call themselves a runner because they aren’t as fast as that lady or the guy over there. My rule is, if you are running at all, with intent, you are a runner. Period.

So yes, I’m a runner. I can usually find my stride pretty quickly, and with the occasional mental reminder I lock in my breathing pattern. Normally that’s 2-3 strides on each inhale, 2-3 strides per exhale. Long steady breaths, even strides. I’ve been asked if I breathe mouth or nose; I honestly don’t think about that. When I do it messes my rhythm – so I just breathe.

Comfort Zones

I joined a new gym 6 weeks ago; after 3 years it was time for a change. I miss my gym friends, but can safely say this is the best thing I’ve done for my training in a while – I needed to push myself. There’s something to be said for familiarity, but I wasn’t getting better/stronger/faster. I was too comfortable.

A typical week for me now has less “long cardio” and fewer miles, with more strength work. It’s circuit training Monday through Friday. Saturday I do something on my own depending on weather and time available; Sunday is run day. (Sometimes, there’s even a rest day thrown in there…) Today was 5 miles with a Sunday morning run group; well within my comfort zone. Like I said, I’m a runner. I can do this part. Funny thing is, every Monday when I go back to the gym I feel like I am starting all over again.

You see, in the gym, I don’t find my rhythm like when I run, and end up out of breath. That’s not a terrible thing; I’m working hard. But finding that rhythm makes the work easier. Breathing is an integral part of your form. Inhaling on the eccentric (lowering the resistance) and exhaling on the concentric (lifting the resistance) helps your body complete the task. The reverse pattern (inhaling on concentric) is not as ideal, but it’s better than holding your breath the whole time!

Remember to Breathe

“Remember to breathe.” It seems so obvious, right? Sometimes, though, the obvious gets lost in the process. Life is like that too. We get so caught up in the stress and drama, we lose our focus. We know what we should be doing, whether it’s exercise, working, studying, etc. We just forget to breathe.

There’s always an excuse available if we look hard enough. I’m sick, tired, so busy, don’t have the tools I need, I’ll do it tomorrow… Tomorrow doesn’t ever come, though, does it? It’s always there, close enough to seem legit but far enough that I don’t have to do it right now. Another excuse, another reason to postpone. (And yes, some reasons are legit. You may need to rethink your plan, your schedule. Priorities change, reality changes.)

The key is not to give in to the excuses. In our house, The Boy is a master procrastinator. Friday night I told him he should change out the litter box before trash day; otherwise I would have to get him up at 7:30 the next morning just to finish that chore. He didn’t even hesitate; he’s no Ben Franklin. And yes, I got him up Saturday morning. To his credit, he didn’t complain (possibly because of the dire warning I gave him the night before) and beat the trash truck to the curb.

Still, he could have handled it in 5 minutes and slept in. Why do we do this to ourselves? Why take the easy road now when we know the problems it will create tomorrow? It’s not a generational thing either, it’s a human thing. A lack of patience and sticking to the process. #stupidwhistling
We keep forgetting to breathe, to focus on the long term. The shiny object flashes nearby and we get distracted so easily.

How Do I Find My Rhythm?

When stress starts to build up, and you find yourself panting and frustrated as life piles on – take a minute and breathe. Focus on where you are going and what you need to do next to get there. It may not be a giant leap, but each step takes you down the right path.
Inhale.
Exhale.
Just Breathe.

Photo by Ian Stauffer on Unsplash