Freedom To Run - Ease, Efficiency, Speed

Jon Burdon, Chi Running and Chi Walking instructor based in England and Wales

Freedom To Run - Blog

This blog is all about my journey with Chi Running. I try to discuss all aspects of the practice. I also write a book review for every book I read about running. Please DO post comments below - you don't event need to have an account - just leave your name :)

I just ran at 4000m altitude ... in London!

I just got back from an inspirational workshop with Patrick McKeown, leading global expert on the buteyko breathing method and developer of The Oxygen Advantage approach to breathing for runners.  The day included a combination of the theory and science behind the Buteyko method and how it applies to running. We had plenty of practical opportunities to practise a range of exercises which help correct dysfunctional breathing and also that simulate high altitude training. This blog is a bit of a mash up of links, quotes, tips and pictures that give a quick flavour of the day.
 
If you're not sure whether this might be of interest to you, Patrick's bio on his Buteyko Clinic website says this:
 
"Did you know that mouth breathing significantly increases the risk of abnormal development of children's faces, crooked teeth, snoring, obstructive sleep apnea, poor concentration, ADHD, respiratory problems including asthma, hay fever and poor sports performance?"
 
During one of the sessions I used a pulse oximeter to measure my oxygen saturation, which went down to 90% - so according to this graph that's 4000m altitude!
 
Oxygen Saturation at Altitude
 
Since reading the book and writing my previous blog on The Oxygen Advantage I have realised that I have been habitually over breathing for the whole of my life, and have already taken steps to correct this and am regularly simulating high altitude situations whilst running through the use of breath holding techniques. The book made a link between many of the health conditions that have affected me throughout my life, and the way I have been breathing, so I'm really hoping to improve my running but also my whole health bu following this method.
 
I particularly enjoyed Patrick's soft, non judgemental and supportive approach. Despite there being a clear history of over breathing in my case, I didn't feel 'like I'd been doing it all wrong' because of Patrick's non-judgemental attitude. He also spent a great deal of time encouraging us to accept our current BOLT (Body Oxygen Level Test) score and habits and just start from wherever we are now.
 
I've also started to experiment with a nose clip from rhinomed to expand my nasal passages and help me nose breathe- thanks for that Patrick!
 
So I'm left feeling really positive about the future of my health, wellbeing and improvement in running. I'm expecting to see some real improvements in my running as well as some great health benefits. I'm also hoping that my children might not go the same way I did!
 
If you didn't make it to the day, here is a graphic that I made from all the notes I took on my ipad. 
 
Photo 28-02-2016 19 26 25
 
A few videos from the day were fascinating. You can watch quite a few of them here.
 
 
 
To finish with, here are a few inspiring and memorable notes, tips and quotes from the day. These are my own notes, so please don't think they are word perfect.
 
When breathing is difficult, the running often isn't the issue .... Everyday breathing is usually the issue.
 
Identify if you have the signs of dysfunctional breathing - breathing through the mouth, dry mouth after sleep.
 
You can tell if someone is a lifelong mouth breather by their facial structure
 
Question. Can you run with absolute relaxation?
 
Light breathing causes more oxygen to be delivered to cells
 
Co2 is needed for oxygen delivery to cells it is not a waste gas
 
Do you understand the physiological aspects of stress?
 
The Oxygen Advantage simulated high altitude training exercises can improve vo2 max and running economy.
 
Remember: With breathing, less is worth more. All authentic practitioners of breathing focus on this.
 
If you can run with every cell of your body, then you will be in a state of complete relaxation
 
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The Oxygen Advantage - Book review from a Chi Running perspective

The Oxygen Advantage by Patrick Mckeown - a book review from a Chi Running perspective. The books starts with some essentials on how breathing works. I love the title of the website 'The Oxygen Advantage - Simulate High Altitude Training.' This is a great introduction and easy for the non scientist to follow. It's fascinating to find out more about the anatomy and functions of the nose. If turns out it's not just two holes in your face!

Lungs

You will quickly learn how to work out your Body Oxygen Level Test score (BOLT.) The aim of following the Oxygen Advantage course is to improve this score, and along with it gain the wide range of health benefits that the book claims. These include getting rid of asthma, weight loss, improving sleep and increasing sports performance.

As the book moves on and discusses some really useful practical exercises to help improve your BOLT score it also has some really clear examples of groups who breathe through the their nose all the time. This helps make the point about the importance of nose breathing. It also provides a nice link with the Born to Run book for those who have read that.

It may be surprising to think that many of us breath incorrectly. This is much like the way we have got in to bad postural habits and therefore a natural running technique like chi Running can make a huge difference to our running. It's true that learning Chi Walking and Chi Running seem uneccesary to some people, "why do i need to learn how to walk?" When people take the time to learn some simple techniques and accept that there is a link between the way they move and associated health problems, they will be ready to explore ways to change that. It's developing a mindful practice throughout all our lives and living by the principle of gradual progress that make a huge difference here.

I must say I have been utterly convinced (if I wasn't before) of the importance of breathing correctly, and also that so many people don't breath correctly. I've also been convinced that making changes in our everyday lives - when we are just sitting around and going about daily routines - can have a huge effect in our performance in sport. There is another parallel to Chi Running here, as I love the way that some of the best changes we can make to improve our running are those postural adjustments that we make all day every day throughout out routines. As you can see the book fits perfectly with the Chi Running philosophy and the two approaches complement each other very well indeed.

The surprise chapter, which really was the icing on the cake for me, was 'finding the zone.' This chapter spends a great deal of time discussing how important mindfulness is for the human being, and its relevance to anyone wanting to breath better. Again it had a lot of examples of how mind body techniques can be of huge benefits and did a great job of extolling the advantages of using mindfulness techniques together with the Oxygen Advantage breathing exercises. In fact, if you follow the programme properly you need to include mindfulness in it. This image reminds us of the links between breathing and mindfulness.

Stream

Here is a short quote from the Finding the Zone chapter to highlight just how close the philosophy is to that of Chi Running. "Scan your body for any tension that may be residing there, and bring a gentle feeling of release to tense areas to encourage relaxation. Tension of muscle groups during sports is counterproductive and consumes energy - learn to recognise areas of tension in your body and practise melting them away with the power of the mind."

 The book suggests looking at a video of a cheetah running to see just how relaxed it looks. Here is an example of such a video (opens in new window.)

Can you see just how relaxed it looks? Can you see, yet again, a common approach shared between The Oxygen Advantage book and the Chi Running way of looking at running (and life)?

So this is definitely the start of my journey with the 'Oxygen Advantage' programme. I have used various breathing techniques before but I'm going to give this one some real sustained attention and report back in another blog. Please do comment and ask questions you might have about the book, any resources you have in breathing or any methods you have used yourself.

In summary, read this book if:

  • You are a runner who has never thought about breathing technique
  • You have had problems with your breathing at some point in your life
  • You aren't sure why nose breathing is important
  • You are interested in a mindfulness based approach to life

 

Read the book? Like my blog? Dislike my blog? As always, please leave your comments below.

If you want to learn the breathing technique, why not attend the following workshop, organised by Chi Running UK? 

 OXY2

 

This workshop is only available through the Chi Running UK website and some places are still available at the time of writing. Please click the link above to purchase this, or to find out more information.

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The spiritual side of exercise

Is technique important in running?

Is the mental side of things important?

Are the mental and physical parts of ourselves interlinked?

Most people would answer yes to all these questions, but few have explored the combination of the two, or indeed the link between exercise and the spiritual side of their life.

From long distance pilgrims, to marathon running monks, the spiritual and physical are not separate in any sense. Focussing the breath and focussing the mind are some examples of how exercise and spiritual practises can be linked together by those seeking to explore these links.

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Where to find me

 

I live in the Holme Valley, near Huddersfield and on the very northern edge of the Peak District National Park. Workshops are in venues easily accessible from:

Manchester, Sheffield, Leeds, Bradford, Liverpool, Huddersfield, Halifax, Wakefield, Barnsley, Cumbria, West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, Derbyshire and North Wales.

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I am a qualified Mountain Leader, registered with the Mountain Training Association.

Photos of the Holme Valley Landscape are by Andy Leader of Made in Holmfirth

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