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Deciding to take on your first triathlon is a wonderful decision. Many of you may be wondering where to start, what you will need to learn, and what the key ingredients are to a successful first race. In order to address these questions, my upcoming articles will focus on breathing, rhythm, and transitions.
The goal here is to make it simple, because breathing is quite simple. First and foremost, we all need to remember that breathing is one of the few things “built in” or “wired into” our brain and nervous system. Breath is automatic. Often we experience different inhibitions that affect our breath. How do these inhibitions show up?
Here are a few ways we can notice and discover our inhibitions:
Holding one’s breath is the beginning of the end.
My intention is that this series of articles will help guide people into a new approach of measuring progress with breath regulation, less effort while gaining ease and fluidity.
Look at this as your first opportunity to learn to self-regulate your breath. The key is to back off when things get hard. When I say back off, it’s just by a fraction, just enough so that you can get your breath back to its rhythm, and continuous flow. There are four parts to your breath you want to become aware of; the inhalation, a pause, the exhalation, and a pause. The pauses are needed to transition the phases of inhaling or exhaling. All four parts of the breath are needed.
As you learn to bring awareness and attention to your breath, look for the four parts, their flow and their rhythm. If you find yourself HOLDING your breath, back off and self -regulate, this means reestablishing the four parts of the breath. This will become a great tool in your first triathlon and when learning to conquer more challenging events in the future.
Remember, your breath is a key ingredient to a successful and fun first triathlon experience. Begin now introducing yourself to the four parts of your breathing. Start by noticing them in a non-active state. Next, bring your awareness to the pool, running, and to the bike. You will immediately find out that your breath is completely different in each activity and situation. Once you become familiar with your breath, always keep an awareness of your breath in the background of yourself. Then, when needed, you are able to bring your breath to the foreground of your attention at anytime. Look for the moment when you get shortness of breathing, or holding your breath, or too rapid of a breath, back off and find the ease again. This will truly allow you to learn to self-regulate.
Self-regulation will be one of your greatest tools and gifts forever!
In the following articles I will build your ability to self-regulate, adding in rhythms and transitions. It is critical entering a triathlon to understand these aspects preventing overuse, exhaustion, hitting the wall, and a miserable experience.
Sharon Starika is a runner and triathlete with over 20 years of competitive racing experience. She is a Guild Feldenkrais Practitioner and lives in Park City, Utah where she has a private practice. She teaches classes and clinics around the country and offers instructional online workshops so people interested can practice her methods anywhere.
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