I was riding along the beach over the Labor Day weekend when I confirmed something that I’m not doing properly: breathing. But isn’t it something we do naturally? Well, let me explain.
I was approaching my third hill having ridden over 5 miles and feeling good about the ride. I went through the second hill at a good speed, even easily overtaking a guy that blasted past me on the downhill prior to the hill.
But then as I approached the third hill, a group of four riders passed me. I was already thinking of taking a slower approach to the hill because the last half is steeper than normal. The first rider said something about my bike and did a thumbs up. As usual it took me a few seconds to fully comprehend what he was saying. He was complimenting my bike and I was too late to reply a “thank you” or something nice.
That few seconds of distraction was enough to make me forget breathing for a few seconds. By the time I reach the hill’s halfway point I was feeling fatigued. Two lady runners even started overtaking me. My sweat glands was working overtime and I could feel by body core getting hotter.
I finally got to a traffic light where I planned to make a u-turn and head back. There was a slight cool breeze, sunny skies and tall waves crashing on the beach a few hundred yards away. I took a drink of water and was feeling good again.
I reached a long gently inclined hill on the way back. I did a lot of deep breaths just before the hill. I increased my speed and focused on catching a couple that passed me a few seconds ago. I did forced breathing while going up. I started gaining on the couple. It wasn’t my intention to overtake the two – just to see if my fitness is better.
I reached the top of the hill without any fatigue. I was still breathing gulps of air and not feeling tired at all. It then dawned on me that the suffering on the hill just five minutes ago was due to lack of oxygen. The current hill was longer but I reached the top almost effortlessly. I quickly made a mental note of paying attention to my breathing.
When I was recuperating from my heart surgery, and my blood pressure would go up – the nurse instructed me to do some deep breathing and relax. It worked. My blood pressure would go down in a few minutes. All because of a good supply or air.
There are many versions of relaxation breathing technique. One of them says breathe in slowly for 7 seconds, hold for 20 seconds, then release slowly for 4 seconds. This simple process really helps in relaxation especially if eyes are closed and shoulders relaxed.
I’m sharing this because even though breathing is the most normal thing we do everyday, at times we forget to breathe. I myself always experience this while riding. While exercising it’s best to pay attention to the breathes we take.