I Finished It: 40 Day Kriya

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Remember that 40 Day Kriya? You can read about it in this post here if you missed it. I finished it! What did I learn? It was a lot like running! In some ways.

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Get it done first thing
It is suggested that you do it before 6 am; the effects are supposed to be more powerful then. I happen to be an early riser, so most days that happened. There may have been a day or two I didn’t wake up til 6, but I still just got up and got it done.

You can do it at any time of day, but being a morning person already I found doing it first thing n the morning worked well for me. You feel so good when you’ve moved your body first thing in the morning.

Although the truth is I don’t run first thing in the morning. Because I’m doing Yoga. Even when I’m not doing Yoga, as it gets colder my runs get later in the day. I’m lucky that I have that opportunity.

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I didn’t want to do it
Almost every morning I would get up and I really just wanted to sit down with a warm beverage and read. Kundalini isn’t easy. I knew, just as I know with running, that I would feel better after I did my Kriya. I always did. There are times with running that I don’t feel better afterwards.

I used to be a get up and go runner in the Summers, but over time, I’ve just found that that makes my mornings rushed. It’s easier to get up and do Yoga: no changing clothes, no eating. This Summer I often did get out there early, but I found that over time, that was beginning to wear on me. After 40+ days of AM Yoga, I am always energized afterwards. That’s the purpose of my practice, after all — which leads me to . . .

I had more energy
I decided to tackle the 40 day Kriya specifically to work on energy. While the last few weeks have been challenging, I definitely felt ready to get going most mornings after my practice.

I had to ease into it
Every pose has a suggested time. You are almost always moving or doing specific pranayama (breathing techniques) so it’s not just hanging out in the pose like Yin Yoga.

Sometimes I had to take very short breaks. I had to start out with less time than suggested. In fact, for most of the poses, I still haven’t worked up to the minimum hold times — although I’m getting closer.

Running is the same. When we start, or restart after a rest or an injury, we need to ease into it.

Final Thoughts
I know that moving first thing in the morning is a good thing, but the truth is I have struggled for a long time to find the right movement for me. I have tried early morning cardio, but I always seem to burn out on that at some point — or feel run down eventually.

That wasn’t always the case, though. When I was younger I often did early morning cardio. I worked outside the home, and I knew when I came home I might not do it. It worked for me then, but things change.

I have committed to AM Yoga before, and done pretty well with it, but I always seem to get away with it at some point.

That may still be the case; it’s only been 40 days, after all. Despite the difficulty, though, I plan to keep going. Not with another 40 day Kriya right now; that would mean doing the same poses for another 40 days. I want to explore different Kriyas (classes).

There’s always a sense of accomplishment when you finish something you set out to do — especially if it isn’t easy. Even better when you learn and grow from it. — Chocolaterunsjudy

How do you challenge yourself these days?

What have you learned from your challenges? 

What have you been avoiding because it’s hard? 

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Linking up with Zenaida Arroyo and Kim @ Kookyrunner

This week I am also joining up with the new Runners’ Roundup linkup.

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Another Reason to Try Nasal Breathing?

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One of the commenters on the first part of why I tried nasal breathing (read it here) said she did it to make sure she ran her easy runs easy. This is even sort of ties into the actual topic this week — my thoughts on rest days — I write about that a lot! Yes, I’m a big fan of rest days. They’re important to let all your hard work be assimilated by your body.

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Run your easy runs easy
Okay, that was a bit of a reach. This post is not so much about rest days, but it is about whether or not you’re running too hard on your easy runs. You probably are. Most runners do. Because if the secret to running faster is to, well, run faster — the more the better, right?

Nooooo! You will quickly find that breathing in and out only through your nose will quickly let you know when you’re running too hard. You’ll probably want to start breathing through your mouth — a sure sign that you’re pushing too hard.

This article here explains how to slowly master nasal breathing and some of the benefits

By dramatically increasing the amount and intensity of work you’re able to do while nose breathing, you will reconfigure both your body and your brain to change what they think your endurance, power, and speed thresholds are. You won’t be tiring out secondary respiratory muscles (lats, intercostals and obliques) that fatigue quickly and start to signal the brain that you’re almost out of puff! You’ll be able to keep going faster for longer without tiring, and will avoid utter crashes and collapses that we see when people allow their breathing patterns to go haywire during a race or intense workout.

Matt Frazier, of No Meat Athlete, has another great post on nasal breathing here. The book he mentions is one that I have read. My experience with nasal breathing was just different from his — my heart rate could still get up relatively high, by which I presume that I was still just running too fast while trying to unlearn mouth breathing.

Even if fewer breaths, lower heart rate, and less perceived exertion didn’t translate into performance gains — and as far as I’m concerned, the jury is still out — it’s a worthwhile experiment for anyone interested in meditation, relaxation, and spending more time in the mysterious, elusive Zone.

It all comes back to can you tell if you’re running easy rather “easily” by tuning into your breath — whether you’re nose breathing or mouth breathing. It’s not the only way to tell if you’re truly running easy, but it’s a good tool to have. You always have it with you.

Final Thoughts
Reading these articles makes me feel that maybe I didn’t really ease into nasal breathing as much as I should have. Or maybe I threw in the towel too early, and really just needed to go back to basics. I’m still not sure I want to revisit it, but I want what Matt has! That feeling of ease, while breathing through your nose, even while running hard, but most especially while running easy.

Whether nasal breathing has intrigued you or not, the advice to run your easy runs easy is always important. Your body works hard for you and it deserves to be taken care of. — Chocolaterunsjudy

Do you care if you’re running easy or hard for easy runs?

Has running easy runs too hard ever led to problems for you? 

What are some signs that you need a rest day? 

btuesdaytopics

Linking up with Zenaida Arroyo and Kim @ Kookyrunner

This week I am also joining up with the new Runners’ Roundup linkup.

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Why Should You Try Nasal Breathing?

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I am always striving to learn, to experiment, to try new things. Sometimes they work, and sometimes they don’t, but you always learn something.

Last Spring I decided to try nasal breathing in my running (breathing in and out through my nose). As a Yoga teacher, I know the power of breath. Ancient Yogis thought that we only have so many breaths in our lifetime — slowing down our breath so that we took fewer breaths per minute was partially an attempt to live longer.

Paying attention to our breath gives us clues to how we’re feeling. How often do you hold your breath as you go about your daily lives? You might be surprised. If you’re scared or excited, your breath will speed up — it helps to invoke the sympathetic nervous system (SNS), our fight or flight response.

That worked great when we were living in caves and suddenly encountered a saber tooth tiger. Once we got away from the tiger, though, we would calm down and eventually shift back into our parasympathetic nervous system (PNS), our rest and digest system.

We’re not as evolved as we like to think we are. The problem today is that we are often being pushed into our SNS by modern day stressors — almost constatnly — but we’re not facing a real tiger and we’re going from one stress to the next and not spending enough time in our PNS.

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Why breath through your nose?
One of the main reasons I decided to give nasal breathing such a long trial (almost 6 months!) was the fact that it is supposed to help you engage your PNS, and thus supposedly get into the flow state immediately.

Nasal breathing can (supposedly) help you increase the amount of oxygen to get to you hard working muscles, and perhaps boost athletic performance. This post from the Washington post (read it here) says:

It can allow for more oxygen to get to active tissues. That is because breathing through the nose releases nitric oxide, which is necessary to increase carbon dioxide (CO2) in the blood, which, in turn, is what releases oxygen. Mouth breathing does not effectively release nitric oxide, which means the cells are not getting as much oxygen as through nasal breathing, which could lead to fatigue and stress.

Who doesn’t want to boost their performance? And hey, it’s free! Nasal breathing may actually help boost your immune system, too — who doesn’t want that right now? Check out this post here for more information.

Our nasal passages are able to filter bacteria and viruses in the air. We have little hair follicles in our nose (in fact, we have as many hair follicles inside our nose as we do on our head, according to Mackenzie) that are able to filter the air as you inhale, which can block dust and bacteria from reaching your lungs. Our mouths, on the other hand, don’t have the same knack for filtering out particles.

It all sounds good, doesn’t it?

So what went wrong?
I knew going into this experiment that it could take time. Up to three months, in fact, to switch over. I knew that it would mean slower running, but with no races in sight, no big deal.

At first I couldn’t seem to maintain nasal breathing. Which mostly meant I was running too fast. You really do have to slow way down. Then I decided to go back to run/walk intervals, and that helped a lot. I was beginning to see a little progress . . . then Summer came along.

I found it extremely difficult to breathe through my nose in the heat and humidity of Summer. I wasn’t feeling in the flow, either. My runs didn’t leave me feeling good. So I finally stopped nasal breathing while running.

Final Thoughts
I still believe that mastering nasal breathing could be helpful. Even though it’s cooler now, and should be easier, I’m not sure I want to go back and try. On the other hand, it still might be good to work on it just in daily life — I believe with everything going on right now, it may be helpful.

Trying new things is never a bad thing. That’s how we grow and learn. It’s a form of self study. But sometimes you need to know when to fold up. — Chocolaterunsjudy

What do you do to keep your immune system strong?

Have you ever even heard of nasal breathing before? 

What things have you tried and had to let go? 

btuesdaytopics

Linking up with Zenaida Arroyo and Kim @ Kookyrunner

This week I am also joining up with the new Runners’ Roundup linkup.

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It Takes a Village to Raise a Runner

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It’s true that some runners are lone wolves (I’m looking at you, Wendy!), but even those lone wolves tend to rely on more than just themselves to keep running. I came back from a long walk with Lola at the park and today’s subject just popped into my mind.

Seriously, very few runners get by just totally relying on themselves. It truly takes a village to keep running! A few things I didn’t mention: running groups, the guy who does your shoe fittings, and other bloggers!

It’s Friday Five  and fitness from Cynthia from You Signed Up for What?, Courtney from Eat Pray Run DC, and Mar from Mar on the Run today.

Friends & Family
Runners need support. That support can take many forms: people who will listen to us brag about our latest races, moan about our latest injuries, wax poetic about running form, help with the cleaning and cooking, help with the racecation plans, and on and on — all without rolling their eyes at us.

At least with a minimum of eye rolling.

Friends and family step in and step up! Yes, I’m looking at you, Mr. Judy. I know I don’t say it often enough, but thank you for putting up with all my crazy ideas, whether last minute or long range.

Coach
I have not yet worked with a coach. Not one on one. There’s my USAFit coach, but she has an entire group to coach. There was the year I used Runnersconnect, which didn’t work so well for me (but works for others).

Someday, maybe.

Chiropractor
I went to a chiropractor for the first time about 2 years ago. Then in 2015, I started going every other month, or more frequently if I were injured or a race was nearing.

How ironic that my BIL was a chiropractor, but was forced to retire early due to an accident, so I never saw him.

I do feel getting adjusted on a regular basis has been helpful, but it’s not a cure-all.

Physical Therapist
I had my first PT appointment on Monday. I wish I’d sought out PT many years ago. I’m not yet sure if it’s helping, but I know I really liked the person I saw (Ray at Positive Motion for the locals).

And I know that in the future, if something is bothering me, I will most likely be back.

Massage Therapist
Running is a great excuse to see a massage therapist on a more regular basis. I wish my insurance paid for bimonthly massages, as some of my friends’ insurance does! Or paid for massage at all. My massages are all out of pocket, but they’re pure bliss.

I’ve yet to do anything other than Swedish massage, but maybe, just maybe, I’ll book a sports massage in April. Technically I’ll have a massage in April, as my race Sunday offers free postrace massages — but being free, obviously they’re a quickie, and I didn’t get a massage in March at all. So it goes.

 

 Who populates your running village?

Fitful Focus
I’m also joining up with Nicole for her Fit & Fashionable Friday linkup.
Basic faux wrap dress from Athleta
Because clothes make the woman, too. And I took a few clothes shots yesterday. I wore the dress from Athleta yesterday to my Weight Watchers meeting. Not that you can really see it, but it’s a faux wrap style. It’s comfortable, and flattering, and I got it on sale — I would never pay full price for it because while it’s nice, it’s really just a basic dress.
I just “dressed” it up with my own sweater and scarf.
Kotinos print capris from Spandits
I also wore my Spandits capris on my run yesterday. Marcia @ Marciashealthyslice has been singing their praises for so long, I had to give them a try. I love that they are actually made in the US — in fact, they’re made in Maine, which is where I am running my next half.
When I saw the Kotinos print on her, I had to have it too. Very cute! But except for the small envelope pocket inside, there are no pockets! And wouldn’t you know it was a warm day and I didn’t need a jacket. Luckily I have a light vest that has just enough pockets. You know I have to have my pockets!
Cute on the run & around town
They’re very lightweight and have no compression, but they felt great for a 5 mile run right out of the box (although I did feel like they gave me a slight wedgie). The prices are similar to Fabletics, and the prints are so cute!
They’re good to run in, good to work out in, and good for after your run — I brought a different top to throw on after my run and then did my grocery shopping.
No affiliate links here, by the way, I bought these clothes with my own money.