Find more about POWERbreathe by reading this article.
The story so far.
Years ago one of my respiratory patients came to clinic and said that none of the inhalers he’d been given over the years had done as much to help his breathing as something he’d bought from an advertisement in the back of a Sunday magazine.
So I sat up and listened.
He took out a weird breathing device and demonstrated it, saying that he really didn’t want any more meds for his chest thank you – this little gadget was enough. I was more than happy to agree that if you can find something drug-free that benefits you, then use it, use it, use it.
The internet was in its relative infancy but I made a note of the name and have never forgotten the incident with this gentleman.
That was my introduction to POWERbreathe and for reasons beyond explanation, it’s taken me until now to get my own POWERbreathe. I want to see what it can do for me – a healthy 43 year old woman, involved in a regular but low level fitness routine – so that you can have some idea of what it can do for you, whatever your level of fitness or wellness and whatever your goals.
The POWERbreathe experiment and blog.
I want to know if all the words about POWERbreathe are true. The science seems sound to me and I’m all if favour of not taking drugs to improve sports performance. Ok, so I’m no professional athlete and the London 2012 Olympics are going to have to manage without me, but I do have an interest in my own health and fitness. There’s no reason to think that my experience can’t be replicated by more people who follow a more intense and demanding exercise routine.
- My fitness regimen waxes and wanes a bit where sometimes I may not exercise for long periods but generally I run as often as I can which averages at 3-6 times each week depending on work commitments. In the summer Croaking Frog and I like to go out on our bikes and occasionally we go swimming at a local pool.
- The running route I currently take is 2.5 miles long over roads and fields. The fields have a few slight hills and there is capacity to add in extra loops when I feel able. I’ve been taking this route for a few months and although some days are harder than others, I have probably hit a bit of a plateau.
- I have a pile of low-impact exercise DVDs which include things like yoga, Dynaband and Swiss ball workouts so I might do one or two of them during the week or if it’s really wet outside.
- My job is very sedentary and I spend long periods driving and sitting.
During this POWERbreathe experiment and blog I’ll be looking at 2 main markers:
the time the route takes and the ease with which I complete it. I’ll rate the ease on a scale of 1-5. 1 is really easy – bouncing along like a young gazelle! 5 is really hard and I’ve probably had to stop and walk some of the way. I’ll measure the time using the stopwatch on my iPod.
However there are several variables that can influence the time and ease, so I’ll also record:
- The weather – I find running in the cold quite challenging
- Ground conditions – as this is cross-country, if it’s very wet underfoot I’ll be going more slowly
- Whether I’m listening to music or spoken word (books on MP3 or podcasts – if you’re reading this in the UK, I can’t recommend the BBC’s podcasts highly enough)
- If I change the route
- If there are interruptions when I meet friends and neighbours when I’m out and stop to chat(!)
- The time of day of my run – am or pm
- Whether I’m alone or with Croaking Frog
- Whether I manage to sprint the last ½ mile home.
If you’re thinking about doing a similar experiment, you might also want to include your level of hydration, nutrition and carb-load around the time of each training session.
The POWERbreathe experiment and blog. Week 1.
My POWERbreathe (ordered from Amazon) arrived promptly on 31st December 2011.
I went for a few timed and graded runs to set a baseline and have found my times to be around 23-24 minutes and level 4. I’ve been listening to podcasts and it’s been mild weather but wet under foot.
I started practising with the POWERbreathe on 3rd January 2012 at level 0 but only managed it once a day. I have no good reason for this but find it difficult to stand still for the duration of 30 breaths! So I’ve been practising while sitting down watching TV.
This week (2nd January – 8th January) I’ve been running 3 times, using the same 2.5 mile fields and road route but not done any additional exercise.
I’ve practised with the POWERbreathe once a day for 5 out of the 7 days and have progressed to level 1.
What I’ve learned:
- That the breathing technique is easy but harder work than I’d thought!
- That it’s not a good idea to do it when you’re already out of breath!
- That I’m not great at mouth breathing – I makes me gag a little.
- That I can’t practice with the POWERbreathe and do something else like writing or driving at the same time! I need to concentrate to get the most out of each activity. Watching TV and POWERbreathe practise is ok – I can manage that.
The POWERbreathe experiment and blog. Week 2.
I’ve been running 5 times this week (9th-15th January), using the same 2.5 mile field and road route and again, I haven’t done any additional exercise DVDs etc.
I’ve practised with my POWERbreathe once a day at level 1 for 5 of the 7 days.
Interestingly my run times, from the baseline of about 23 minutes 30 seconds have reduced to 21m 21s (today’s run) so that’s a decrease of over 2 minutes in 2 week – I’m quite pleased with that!
And it’s got easier. Last week I was scoring mainly 4/5 and this week has been mainly 3/5.
What I’ve learned:
- That I dribble a lot when I’m trying to make 30 continuous breaths! I’ve washed my POWERbreathe this week and there’s an article about how to care for your POWERbreathe here.
- That the noise scares my cat!
So, if I can decrease my running time by 2+ minutes and reduce my ‘ease score’ by 1 point in 2 weeks by practising once a day, I could get better, faster by doing what I’m supposed to be doing which is practising twice a day. And they say on the introductory DVD, you get out what you put in. That’s the plan for next week then.
The POWERbreathe experiment and blog. Week 3.
This week (16th-22nd January) has been a busy one with work and for one reason or another I haven’t been out running as often as I would have wanted – only 3 days out of 7 – which is a bit of a disappointment.
However I did change my route and for 2 runs I’ve taken a 4 mile route over roads and a disused railway line. It’s a route I know well and is fairly flat. My better time of those 2 runs was just over 36 minutes which is a less-than 10 minute mile, so not too bad.
I’ve been practising with the POWERbreathe and am up to level 2, which is hard work but getting very gradually easier.
What I’ve learned:
- That the point at which I really think I really can’t be bothered to go for a run is the point at which I really need to do it
The POWERbreathe experiment and blog. Week 4.
23rd – 29th January.
This week, thanks to some really wet weather I’ve been forced (kicking and screaming!) to take another different route as well as well as the fields and railway line which have become too wet to maintain a good speed. This 3rd route along the roads in the village is 4.8 miles and takes in some slight hills and I’ve used it twice; the fields and the railway line once each.
I’ve been practising with the POWERbreathe on levels 2 and 3 this week. Level 3 is the hardest work yet and I need the nose tweekers (or to pinch my nose).
And 2 of the most significant developments have been:
- Using the POWERbreathe shortly before going for a run makes the run a lot easier and faster. Well, it makes sense if you’re taking a bit more oxygen right before you start needing it.
- Using the POWERbreathe with exercise DVDs has got to be the most efficient way of practising I’ve found. There’s an article about this here
The POWERbreathe experiment and blog. Week 5.
30th Jan-5th February 2012.
I’m practising on level 3 and gradually finding it’s a little easier. I’m still really only managing to practise once a day (occasionally more) and, I suspect as a result the ease of the exercise I’m doing and my times have hit a bit of a plateau. No excuse – I’m just lazy.
I’ve been running 3 times again this week and the weather has been very cold, which I find more challenging.
What I’ve learned this week:
- That it’s usually about now in any experiment that interest and enthusiasm begins to wane (as the novelty wears off) so I need to do something different to maintain momentum and see some better results. I think I’ll try some more Swiss Ball/yoga/StretchBand workouts while using the POWERbreathe and hope that that will push me on.
- That laziness doesn’t get results!
The POWERbreathe experiment and blog. Weeks 6-10.
The last few weeks and months have been fun and I’ve made a revelation or 2 along the way. Some of them are POWERbreathe related and some aren’t; I dare say I’m a bit late to the party with these but let me know what you think.
- If I use my POWERbreathe before working out, especially if I’ve been sitting at my desk or in the car for hours, it’s like having a good warm up for my lungs! Obvious when you think about it, but it makes the difference between an easy run and something less enjoyable.
- If I’m feeling tired and lazy but have stuff to do, a blast on my POWERbreathe invigorates me and I can get on.
- Changing my mindset from ‘shall I go for a run today?’ to ‘when I go for a run today’ makes all the difference.
- When I’m running or cycling and it’s tough – going up a hill or just running out of gas – I look at the piece of ground about 4 feet ahead of me and watch it disappear under my feet/tyres and then to the next piece of ground 4 feet ahead etc until I find I’m back in the groove. It beats the hell out of looking into the distance and wondering how I’m going to get there!
- When I’m tired or have hit the wall, just increasing my arm swing will automatically make my legs work harder without any extra mental effort. If you don’t believe me on these 2 points, try them for yourself.
- Listening to music rather than podcasts or books is far better for speed/exercise times. I’ve noticed a definite difference in my times when I’ve been listening to music. Books or podcasts are perhaps better for a more leisurely run or workout, where the clock isn’t ticking.
Over the last few weeks I’ve noticed (when I haven’t been listening to those podcasts) that I’ve shaved an average of 30 seconds a week off my running times. This will reach its limit before I start defying the laws of time and space and find I’m meeting myself coming back!
The POWERbreathe experiment and blog. Weeks 10 and onwards.
I’ve been using my POWERbreathe for 4 months now and it’s been quite a revelation! My training log tells me that, weather variants notwithstanding, my run times have dropped and the ease scores have improved over all my running routes. This isn’t news and I’ve said it in every update.
I’m not going to add more to this blog but my key points are:
- I’ll continue using my POWERbreathe to warm up before a run which straightens out my lungs after a day hunched in the car or at my desk.
- I’ll use it while I’m using work out DVDs at home on the days I’m not running.
- I need to KEEP using it to maintain the fantastic benefits I’ve gained. I’m researching an article for the nursing press where the POWERbreathe and inspiratory muscle training is used for people with chronic lung conditions. All the studies done show that the benefits are only maintained when training continues.
- One of my favourite quotes is from Calvin Coolidge:
“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent.
Genius will not: unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.
Education will not: the world is full or educated derelicts.
Persistence and determination are omnipotent.
The slogan ‘press on’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”