Breathing for Endurance Training

by Ed Harrold |  Date Released : 11 Oct 2016

This video contains three sections, a warm up, training, and recovery.

The Warm-Up

In most athletic training and exercise, the sympathetic response is over stimulated and hinders digestive function. Our digestive system is a tremendous source of energy for the body. When activated skillfully, we’re warming the body up “from the inside out” instead of overusing skeletal and musculoskeletal systems. By incorporating various nasal-breathing techniques, we can tease and relax the autonomic nervous system.

The Training

After the body has been properly activated, we now want to maintain that same level of integrity in the meat of our workout or training. As an endurance athlete, we want to use energy efficiently which means we must maintain healthy heart rates while creating balance in the autonomic nervous system influencing both sympathetic and parasympathetic systems (Jerath et al., 2006).

In addition, there are 5 neurochemicals involved in flow (or the zone):

  1. Serotonin relaxes and creates community in our thought forms.
  2. Dopamine is our source of motivation and desire.
  3. Endorphins are nature’s natural pain killer.
  4. Anandamide is called the “bliss molecule.”
  5. Norepinephrine cuts down all the noise and distraction of what’s not important now.

Train in flow to race in flow. If you can’t train in flow, it’s really hard to create it on race day with all the stress and distractions. Utilizing breath control in the warm ups and staying with different types of nostril sequences in training protocols will maintain a low to mid-level flow state (Sinicki, 2014).

Sequencing mindful breathing techniques provides the platform to biohack into flow states. Mouth breathing signals the brain for the release of sympathetic hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. However, engaging the diaphragm muscle (stable posture using muscles of inhale) and vagus nerve (part of ANS controlling heart rate & digestion) through nasal breathing signal the release of serotonin (calm) and dopamine (feel good) creating the “cocktail” necessary for flow and heart rate variability (Elliott, 2010).

The key is to get warmed up fast and have an efficient use of energy, time and distance. With this you have more energy for the meat of your workout and less wear and tear on all the body’s systems aiding in recovery later.

The Recovery

Lastly, making time for relaxation and integration after every workout is an essential part of recovery. How you end your workout is laying the foundation for your next training day. We want to support our immune system by helping to “clean up” the demands of our fitness routines.

After each out workout, give yourself 8-10 minutes to lie down for a guided relaxation and body scan of muscles used in training. Get yourself as comfortable as possible by placing a pillow under your neck and knees. Set a timer so your mind is happy and won’t keep distracting with you wondering what time it is. Use your breath to slow down brainwave activity from the high beta waves to more of a lower alpha state of awareness and learning. One note, if you fall asleep in this experience, you’re over-training and should back off for 1 to 3 days.

Read the entire article here.

      Back to top
Ed Harrold

About the author: Ed Harrold

Ed Harrold is an inspirational leader, coach, and educator. Ed’s mastery in the science of breath has guided him to apply mindful, conscious breathing practices in fitness, weight loss, stress reduction, healthcare and overall health and well-being.

Today, Ed blends the fields of neuroscience and the wisdom of contemplative traditions into effective strategies to improve health, fitness & well-being in Corporate America, Healthcare, athletic performance and individual health. Ed’s fluency in mindfulness-based strategies combined with the belief in the human potential gives him the depth and understanding to meet individuals and group needs across industries and platforms.

Experience Ed’s MindBodyAthlete™, Transformational Coaching and 25-Hour Breath Trainings.

Also check out Ed Harrold's Online Courses: 
15-Hour Breath Training
Breath AS Medicine: Improving Health and the Training Experience

Full Author Details

Leave a reply

Comments (0)

Back to top

Our Policy Changes

We recently updated our Terms & Conditions and Use and Privacy Policy, both of which will take effect on 14 Oct 2020. Click on the links to view the updated policies.