the nose is quite a wonderful thing… i just started using mine about 3 years ago. after reading a book by john douillard “body, mind and sport.”  before then i used to breathe only through my mouth.  i used to think that that was the only way i could breathe.  i have a nasal septum deviation, a slight over bite and some pretty big incisors.   i had seen people breathing through their nose but usually not in a workout scenario.

john talks about how the nose is the primary breathing apparatus for humans.  among other things the nose filters and warms the air before it enters the lungs.  the mouth on the other hand is for emergencies, air goes directly to the lungs shunting all other mechanisms the body has for preparing air.

you never see a deer or rabbit running with its mouth open, panting uncontrollably catching bugs in his mouth… or having a difficult time saying good morning to other deer do you? of course not!  that’s because most of nature’s animals breathe through their nose.

by the time this sank in, i was determined to figure out how to nose breathe while i run.   it took me quite a few miles but i finally got pretty good at it.  in the beginning i used to have to carry a tissue with me, to keep the nasal passages open…and i became an expert at the farmer’s blow.

i now love nose breathing while i run and when i cycle.  not only do i feel more refreshed, enlightened, and some what more accomplished (it is difficult after all).

i also use nose breathing when i am recovering from an injury.  not only do i feel like more oxygen is flowing through my body making my muscles heal faster…that’s debatable.  another reason is that keeps my mind off the injury.  it really takes a lot of concentration for me to breathe and run. so i have little or no brain power to focus on anything else.  also because it’s so difficult i can only run at a slower more governed pace ( i can’t just run as fast as i want).  i always have to run a bit slower and steadier, which keeps me from blowing something out.

today at lunch i decided to nb for my little 3mile run.  i started out at what seemed like a snail’s pace…and slowly picked it up till i found my breathing  limit.  i figured that i started out at about a 9 or 10 minute pace and worked my way down to about an 8:30 pace.  that’s not too bad considering i was  just out for a jog. also, this was just an estimate, i really didn’t know for sure how fast i was running. until…

i turned my gps on and checked my pace.  holy shit! i was running at a 7:20 pace!  i didn’t feel that fast.  i was still having a little trouble keeping up with the nose breathing but i was able to handle it.  as i was running down the path someone yelled at me, “hey, don’t forget to breathe!”

i did forget…. in fact that’s all i could think about.  when i got back to work i was so full of endorphins i didn’t feel like sitting at my computer.   and after such focused breathing for so long, it transcended the work out to the remainder of the day.  since the run, i have only breathed through my mouth while talking….and “they” tell me, i don’t talk much :)

so if you don’t breath through your nose while running or cycling try it!  you’ll be impressed with yourself.

let me know how it goes.


as a parent i’ve seen my kids get hurt and injured right in front of my eyes. when it happens it’s one of the most horrible feelings in the world.  i spend so much energy into keeping them safe, and when they are not safe, i feel kind of like i let my guard down.  sometimes their injury is pretty bad, and sometimes it isn’t bad at all.   from the outside it always looks so painful…but to the child the pain is usually something less than it looks.

in the early years it almost seems like the child had no idea what just happened or how he was supposed to react. the child usually learns right away how much pain he is in by looking at the parent’s expression. we see this all the time; child falls or gets whacked in the head, stands there motionless, looks around, finds an adult with his his jaw on the ground and his eyes popped out from terror…then the drama begins.  to make the situation even more overwhelming the adult/parent will run over and asks in a sympathetic voice, “aw… are you alright sweetheart?”.  at this point the situation has become defcon 1, it’s all over, prepare yourself for long term, loud ear piercing terrifying heart breaking, ambulance calling crowd gathering screams. i’m not trying to say that the pain is not real, but the reaction to it may be a little projected.

i am greatly aware of this phenomenon, and to outsiders i may seem a little flippant when it comes to my child’s injuries. i usually keep a calm facial expression, or mask it with a triumphal surprise. i’ll walk over if i can, and say something like, “whoa that looked harsh, you gonna live dude?” i try to stay cool on the outside, but on the inside i am, “oh no! oh no! oh no! this is bad, this is really really bad!” when someone witnesses my laisser faire parenting, i am perceived as a cold heartless, loathesome, vile, distasteful neanderthal of a human.  this may be true.   i am not trying to make my kids ignore the pain, i just don’t want them to feed the pain.

currently i have an injury that was not caused by trauma. it was not caused by a fall, a blow, a gunshot, or anything external.  i have achilles tendinitis which was caused by good old fashioned “over use”.  it happened on the very last day of my 837Km (520mile) bicycle tour that i did back in mid september. i had some knee issues, and butt issues, but there were no issues from my achilles during that whole week. it seemingly came out of no where. i was devastated when it happened, because i am no stranger to achilles problems.  i had achilles tendinitis long ago when i was on the x-country team in college.  i lost my two remaining seasons of competition because of it.  and now, i am deathly afraid of this injury and the down time it wreaks.  from the moment it happened i tried to nurture its cries. i knew that the mild pain was only a prelude to what was coming next.  i iced it, rested it, massaged it, and stretched. without failure the great pain arrived.  i’ll run or ride my bike a little to test its presence, and each time i do, it reminds me of its great existence.

so i’ve been injury free for about 14 years now. i’ve had some minor issues, like broken toes, stress fracture in the arm, acute knee injuries, but nothing to keep me away from cycling or running for too long. before this period, i would have long term injury after long term injury. even after the injuries were gone, i could still feel them. they never seem to go away.

i attribute my change, to a book i read a long time ago by dr. john sarno, “healing back pain: the mind-body connection”.  back then i didn’t have back pain, and i still don’t, but this guy had a very interesting theory regarding pain and the human body.  as i read his book i began to see parallels to to my own life of chronic running injuries.   i started practicing some of his simple theories and noticed that i could over come little pings and pokes from my legs just by just acknowledging them, treating them and moving on.  yes it does sound pretty simple, but the key for me was to not “feed” the pain.

the human body is incredibly resilient.  the body can mend broken bones in a matter of weeks,  it can heal from disastrous road rash,   it can beat cancer, and so much more.  so why is it that something as small as a sore achilles can linger around for months?  it doesn’t make sense to me given how quickly my body heals from external damage.  to be honest, i think my achilles healed about three weeks ago, but the pain i feel is just from me feeding the pain.  it was really injured at one point and i treated it, now it’s time to move on.

i may sound weird and unorthodox, but i have to learn to treat my injured body parts like i treat my injured kid’s.  so to my poor little achilles who works so hard to get me through life….”you’ll be alright, dude!…now harden the fuck up!”