Recently, I competed in a sprint triathlon with my family in Colorado. With only a couple of weeks to train for the race, we incorporated a few Ayurvedic training techniques and successfully used them to prepare for this event.
Originally, my 24-year-old daughter and 18-year-old son were going to join me for this triathlon. As it turned out, my son injured his shoulder in a soccer tournament before the race, so it was just me and Devaki, my daughter, who raced.
We challenged the Ayurvedic principles detailed below pretty intensely—as we only trained for two weeks for this triathlon. Granted, it was only a 525 yard swim, 10 mile bike ride, and a 3.1 mile run.
The race sounded easy, but we should have been concerned by the name: The Lookout Mountain Triathlon. Any triathlon with the word “mountain” in the title should tip you off to a day running and riding up and down the side of a mountain. Around two weeks of nose breathing training and no real mountain training pushed me to my limits—I did a lot more huffing and puffing than planned!
That said, Devaki did fantastic with a first-place finish in her age group, and I took fourth place in mine.
Here are 4 key Ayurvedic strategies we used to train for the race in such a short time.
4 Ayurvedic Techniques That Can Help You Train for a Triathlon
Exercise Strategy #1: Nose Breathing
Nose breathing is a more natural way to breathe, but requires much practice to master. The ancient Central American Mail Runners were said to run with rocks or water in their mouths. Try this and you will quickly see that it is impossible to do unless you breathe only through the nose. Nose breathing drives air into the lower lobes of the lungs more efficiently, where it activates calming nerve receptors and a wealth of vascularized lung alveoli that max out respiratory efficiency. In the long run, nose breathing makes exercise easier and healthier.
Mouth breathing, otherwise known as “huffing and puffing,” triggers upper chest receptors, where the majority of fight-or-flight receptors predominate. They are great for running away from a bear, but very stressful and degenerative over time. Being chased by a bear gets old. Perhaps because of the excessive and chronic stress we live under and basically no breath training during childhood, we have become really lousy upper chest, shallow breathers.
Learning how to become a nasal breather during exercise helps train the body to handle a variety of life stressors without triggering the degenerative, fat-storing, sugar-craving, anxiety-producing, sleep-preventing, exercise-hating emergency response!
Go for a walk and count your steps for each complete nasal inhale and exhale. Watch how, as you become an accomplished nasal breather, you will steadily increase your steps per breath.
Your goal: 10 steps for the inhale and 10 steps for the exhale.