Tip Tuesday: Proper Breathing While Running

If anyone of my generation remembers the movie Jungle to Jungle they may or may not remember a scene and line that has always stuck in my mind. It is when Tim Allen (Baboon) is chasing his new found son (Mimi-Siku) through the streets of New York City. Once the chase is finally over Baboon is breathing heavily while Mimi  is just fine. 

Baboon says "Your gonna have to learn a few things about my jungle." 
Mimi says, "And you need to learn how to breathe when you run."

When I run I think about this statement. Obviously there is a proper way to breathe when running and I wanted to learn it to make running easier for me. 

I used to think it was in through your nose, out through your mouth. Apparently that isn't the best. I'll share with you what I learned from an article in runnersworld.com.

1. Open your mouth. Breathing through your mouth allows more oxygen to come into your body rather than breathing through the small openings of your nostrils. 

2. Learn belly-breathing. Belly-breathing as opposed to chest-breathing allows you to take deeper breaths.
"When you take deeper breaths, you use more air sacs in your lungs, which allows you to take in more oxygen to feed your muscles," says David Ross, M.D., a pulmonologist at UCLA Medical Center.  

To learn belly-breathing take this advice.
Place one hand on their abdomen and one hand on your chest and watch. The lower hand should move with each breath, while the upper hand should remain relatively still (usually the opposite occurs). "Every time you breathe in, your belly should fill up like a balloon," says Mindy Solkin, owner and head coach of The Running Center in New York City . "And every time you breathe out, that balloon should deflate. When you chest breathe, your shoulders get tense and move up and down. That's wasted energy-energy you should conserve for running." 

You can practice this while resting and soon enough this technique will carry over to running.  Lie or sit down, placing your hand on your belly. Concentrate on rising your belly when you breathe in and lowering it when you breathe out. 

I have started belly breathing when I run. I have noticed great results in my cardio endurance. It felt slightly awkward at first, but it didn't take very long to make it feel more natural. 

3. Coordinate breathing. Another way to develop more strength in your diaphragm is to make breathing patterns. Coordinate your breathing with your foot falls by starting with 2-2-pattern. Breath in while stepping right, left. Breathe out while stepping right, left. Then try 3-3-pattern, breathe in while stepping right, left, right. Out while stepping left, right, left. Then work your way up to 4-4-pattern. 

You can enjoy the article I read in its entirety here.

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The Rockies

Now I've been fortunate enough to see two mountain ranges in person. The Atlas Mountains of Morocco and most recently the Rocky Mountains of the United States and Canada. 

When seeing parts of the American Rockies I realized I didn't know much about them. 

Until now. 

The Rockies formed about 80 to 55 million years ago when a number of plates began to slide under the North American plate. The result was a broad belt of mountains running down North America. Further tectonic movement and erosion by glaciers have formed the Rockies into dramatic  peaks and valleys. 

After explorers such as Sir Alexander Mackenzie and Lewis and Clark got to know the range, fir and mineral trade drove exploitation of the mountains. The mountains themselves have never been hugely populated.
View from the top of Pikes Peak, the Rockies' second highest elevation

The Rockies cover 3,000 miles in distance, but are themselves 100 separate mountain ranges. It's highest peak reaches 14, 300 feet high, which is Mount Elbert, near Leadville, Colorado. 

The second largest peak in the range is Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs. I went up Pikes Peak on my recent trip to Colorado. It is the second most visited mountain peak in the world. It's one of the only mountain peaks that is fully accessible by paved road. Until recently, October 2011, the road was only paved up to the halfway point. 

As we started on the way up we saw lots of trees and beautiful rolling hills. The three kids in the back kept commenting when they were on the "safe side" of the car and then the "scary side" and we rounded the switch backs. 

Near the beginning my cousin Toby commented that we hadn't seen anything yet. He was right. The higher and higher we got the trees got smaller and smaller when soon they were going completely. Our roads got steeper and steeper and our turns got sharper and sharper. 

Near the top it started to feel like a mix between driving through the car wash and riding up a roller coaster. It gave that spooky feeling that you seem to get in each of those places. 

We all dressed warmly and brought coats. As soon as we got to the top and prepared to get out I noted how warm I thought it was. I didn't believe Toby that we needed the coats. Turned out, it was only warm in the car, where five bodies had just been stuffed. Sure enough it was a cool 38 degrees with an even lower wind chill. Yep, we needed the coats. 

Other fast facts:
  • The mountains form the Continental Divide, which separates rivers draining to the Pacific Ocean from ones draining to the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans. 
  • The Rockies house 14 rivers which eventually drain to three different oceans. 
  • Colorado itself has 55 fourteeners, as they are affectionately known, peaks that are at least 14,000 feet or higher. 

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Tip Tuesday: Staying Focused While Working

In my job I have multiple roles. Within those roles I have multiple tasks. Some days I am pulled from task to task and often time find myself  starting something new while forgetting I am in the middle of something else. If you are in a similar situation read on to find some tips for keeping your focus at work. 

1. Keep your work station organized. I do this one a lot. Take a few minutes at the beginning and end of the day to make sure there isn't too much clutter around your desk. This clutter will create an uneasy feeling and lead your mind to stray. 

2. Make a to-do list and stick to it. If you have your tasks written down you are more likely to complete them. Having them bouncing around in your head just creates confusion and you are less likely to complete them all effectively. 

3. Realize when you are getting off task. When I start something and then have to take a call, sometimes I go right into a brand new task forgetting I had started one before. When you realize you have done this, don't get upset, just simply return to the initial  task, complete it, and move on. Train yourself return your mind to something you started. 

4. Give yourself a break.If you work primarily at a desk it's best for your body to get up and move around for five or 10 minutes each hour. If you work at a computer too, it's best to give your eyes and mind a rest from it. It also helps to relax your mind and refocus. Step away from the desk and computer as often as you can and come back ready to finish or start a new task. 

5. Discipline yourself. Focus takes discipline, for everyone. Working in a place with so many possible distractions for me, it's simple for my mind to bounce around. I have to try and be strict with myself  to focus on what I am currently doing and let other tasks that may pop into my head wait. 

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The Incline

In a small mountain town, neighboring Colorado Springs, there is a famous "trail" known as the Incline. 

In 1907 the Manitou Incline was built for a cable car to carry materials to build pipelines on Pike Peak. The railway didn't serve this purpose long and eventually was turned into a tourist attraction, lifting riders high atop the mountain. In a 1990 rock slide the tracks were washed away and they were never repaired. 

At this time accessing the trail became illegal due to trespassing on railroad owned land. However, challenge enthusiasts began using the trail as the hellish workout that it is. It is made up of railroad ties as stairs that lead you up a 2,000 foot rise with as incline of 68% in some places. The Incline takes you up about 3/4 mile where you are then able to wind down the 2.9 mile Barr Trail to get back to where you began. 

Sound doable?
Apparently I thought so. 

Toby talked this challenge up enough and I thought it might be a fun thing to try. But the words of Yoga fit well here. "Do or do not, there is no try." Once you're on your way up, you've just got to keep hiking. 
Look for the faint tan line, that is the Incline from miles away

I guess I wasn't quite sure what I was up against, until I got going for a while. We took the trail in the evening, it worked out well because it was cool and there weren't many people making their way up. An older woman, with two walking poles began just before me. At her slow pace I quickly found the need to pass her. I knew I had roughly an hour of extreme stair stepping ahead of me, so I tried to keep the pace slow-ish. 

After I climbed for roughly 10 minutes I felt the need to pass. However, soon enough I was feeling like I might explode if I didn't take a break. My friend with the walking poles soon passed me. In fact she continued up the mountain at her slow, but constant pace, not breaking once. 

The impending doom ahead of me
The trail was rugged and unforgiving. The steps were uneven and at times you might have a moment where you feel you'll lose your center of gravity. 

I was forewarned about the false summit or also known as the bailout. A spot that appears to be the top but is merely a tease making you believe you are finished. At this spot there is a trail leading you down if you can't continue to the top. My friend with the walking poles left us then. 

Standing fully upright was becoming increasingly tough
As I got closer and closer to the top I had to stop every several feet or so. I remember thinking several times this is the stupidest thing I've ever done. But I was happy to be doing it, most of all I was going to be happy to be through with it! 

Toby walked patiently behind me while I competed my beginners clime in about 65 minutes. His quickest climb of the Incline was 27 minutes, meaning he is running steps in certain places. The fastest recorded time is 16.42 minutes by a triathlete.
Finally standing and smiling again


I couldn't believe the energy it took to make one trip up the Incline. In 2013 an man broke the record for most trips up the Incline in one year at 719!

Going down?

Walking up hikers have right-of-way, but unbelievably there are people trekking down the Incline. One misstep and you are nose diving 2,000 feet down. For non-suicidal types, use the Barr trail. The remaining part of the trip is a 2.9 mile hike down the mountain, at a much, much tamer slope. 

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Water and Sun

On my recent trip to Colorado my cousin, his three kids, and I went camping in the mountains at a state campground near Crested Butte. Its only had a few amenities-one included was a water pump. Or so we thought. We didn't bring any water besides what we had in a few bottles because we planned on using the camp's pump. When we made a trip to the water pump to load up for the night, we realized something was wrong with it-it wouldn't pump water. The camp host wasn't in so we didn't know how to figure out what was going on with the pump. 

Our dinner was to be spaghetti so when that time came, Toby poured all the water from our bottles to boil noodles on the camp stove. After that our water was gone. Next we could do no dishes, brush no teeth, and possibly not go on the hike we were planning for the following day. 

We never were able to get the pump working so the following morning we drove the six miles back into Crested Butte and were able to fill all our containers at a gas station. After this we were back in business. 

When we didn't need water-we got it. Both nights during our dinner time we got rained on. We had a bit of shelter under a tarp, but otherwise we couldn't do much. Our clothes were luckily not saturated, but damp enough to chill you. The following morning I wanted nothing more than sunlight to warm my chilled bones and to dry out the few clothing items I'd brought. Getting up as early as I did I had to wait for the sun to rise high in the sky. There were also very thick clouds keeping me from the warmth I desired. Eventually the sun shone down on me. 

The reason that I mention these two things is because when I was having these experiences I realized now simple yet important these things are. We go about our day putting so much importance in our technological amenities, we forget just how important the amenities of the sun and water truly are for us. But in the moment you're truly in need of them most, and they aren't available, you finally give them the importance they are warrented. 

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