Wednesday, March 7, 2012
I have asthma. I haven't always had asthma; I was diagnosed when I was 17 years old. I've only ever had one severe attack and to this day, it's scared the shit out of me. It was in college and the attack ended up benching me for almost two weeks, had me on multiple rounds of steroids and I honestly thought I may never breath again.
In the past when I was running, my legs always lasted longer than my lungs. As soon as I start getting out of breath, I start to panic and then my breaths get shallower and faster, making it even harder to catch my breath. I end up essentially hyper ventilating and I have to stop running and walk to catch my breath. It's a vicious cycle and until recently one that I didn't even recognize. I just thought you kept running until you couldn't breathe. I thought the more and more I ran, the further I'd be able to go until I couldn't breathe and eventually I wouldn't have to stop to catch my breath until my run was over.
I know. I know. Anyway, CrossFit has taught me the single most important life lesson I could ask for ~ in less than a month. It's taught me how to control my breathing. During several of the workouts, I've gotten to that panicky, shallow breathing, I can't get any air stage (actually, I think it's been during every workout, but whatever). Usually, though, I'm in the middle of something and I can't just stop and catch my breath like I can when I'm just running around town, all by myself. I have learned to slow my breathing, take a quick (like millisecond) break and get my lungs back under control.
For instance, today during kettle bell swings, I noticed my breaths were getting shallower and shallower and we were maxing out, so I couldn't stop. If I stopped, I was done. I had plenty of swings left in me so I waited until that split second when the kettle bell was hanging above my head, before it started the downward swing and I used that minuscule amount of time to slow my breathing, take a deep breath and get myself back under control. I continued to pound out about 20 more swings.
This tiny lesson. This thing that probably every person on the planet knew (except me) has given me more confidence than any heavy lift, any victory, any personal goal met, anything. Learning how to breath? Who knew it could be so liberating? HA!