Breathwork and Cold Showers to Start the Day
I am always exploring and testing methods that have profound results in changing the physiology of the body and the mindset from feelings of sluggishness, apathy, heaviness, fogginess, and other states which one might relate to as depressive or ‘down’ states.
I’d like to share with you what for me (so this is purely anecdotal and not based on evidence) has been a major gamechanger. The Wim Hof Method. I seemed to see Wim’s face appear quite often on my Facebook feed, probably to do with the algorithms that show I am interested in breathwork and meditation? So I finally decided to explore.
Wim’s story is a very sad but fascinating one, where he tried many techniques to overcome his grief and depression only to find that extreme cold immersion was what worked for him. Scientists became fascinated by his feats that earned him the title of “The Ice Man”.
I decided by testing out his free mobile App and was amazed by the effects of his breathing technique.
As a meditator and a practitioner of self-hypnosis, I really enjoyed the effect of the retention of breath. It was pure connection with the body in the present, in the nowhere, where time stops, where the mind stops, and observing the physiological changes occurring in the body.
I was surprised that I could retain my breath with this technique longer than I have ever done in my life. After the third round of the breathing technique I was able to retain my breath for over 3 minutes. When I completed the breathing techniques I began to reflect that I felt a feeling of complete peace, a quiet mind, combined with a surge of blissfulness (that was the dopamine rushing through the body), and complete absorption in the process. Curiously during the retention I had a moment where I thought if I died here and now then I would die contented! My head felt like it had a spring-clean and was fresh and ready to start the day. My body felt good. A complete change from the first paragraph.
I have invested into the programme and now carry out the stretching exercises using Wim’s breathing techniques…
This lends itself so well with my running and practicing self-hypnosis.
There is also a 4 minute meditation which is just such a wonderful way to experience a powerful and quick meditation technique.
Of course the three pillars to Wim’s Method are Breathing, Commitment and Cold Therapy.
I started the cold showers when I was living in Lanzarote and it was summer. “Cold” therefore is quite a relative term according to the place you live and the time of year. So for me, it was relatively easy to do. The cold shower triggers off the fight-flight response, or the stress response when facing adverse situations. After a number of cold showers the stress response lessens and helps develop resiliency and endurance.
(Hats off to my friend, Sarah Eriksson who is getting up at really early in Sweden and immersing herself in a lake!)
Now I’m living in the foothills of the mountains where the climate is quite different and I’m really getting to experience what a cold shower really is like! At first it was like enduring something painful, the body tenses up, and at first I hated it. Then surprisingly after about a week I began to welcome it, finding that after 20 seconds my body adjusted to the cold and the tension went. The stress response was lowered and I am able to endure longer cold showers (but still have to give a lake a go!). After the shower the body feels like it is ready to take on the world, and that’s a great way to start the day! 🙂
Not only are we talking about extreme physiological changes, a quiter mind and more focus, but the cold shower seems to have the effect of strengthening the immune system. In fact it’s here that there is scientific evidence to back it up. My body feels strong, I support colder temperatures better (and I’m one of those thin-blooded people!), I’ve not had a cold since I’ve started the techniques.
As I’m really enthused by Wim’s techniques, my interest leads me to wanting to explore it in greater depth so no doubt I’m going to sign up for a ‘Wim Hof Experience‘ and experience it with a trained person, and get into that ice bath!
If you are looking for a technique that’s not time consuming to help with depression, anxiety, rumination, chronic pain, enhanced immunity function, then The Wim Hof Method has my recommendation.
Alive & Kicking!
The beneficial properties of the breath and how to breathe properly whilst running.
We often underestimate the power of the breath. Breath is a gift which can reap great rewards if you are breathing correctly. It can lower anxiety, enhance your immune system, improve focus, reduce asthma attacks, and improve the quality of any physical activity, such as running.
First of all, I suggest you carry out this simple test to find out if you are breathing properly. If you are fortunate enough to have a pulse oximeter to measure the oxygen saturation in the blood, attach it your finger and breathe as you normally do. An oxygen saturation reading of between 95% and 99% is good.
According to Patrick McKeown, author of ‘The Oxygen Advantage’ he suggests, “An oxygen saturation of 100% would suggest that the bond between red blood cells and oxygen molecules is too strong, reducing the blood cells’ ability to deliver oxygen to muscles, organs, and tissues. We need the blood to release oxygen, not hold on to it…Increasing oxygen saturation to 100% has no added benefits.”
The other simple method which anyone can do is by keeping track of your Body Oxygen Level Test score (BOLT). This will let you know if your natural breathing is efficient or not and the method is described by Patrick McKeown. It’s best to do this first thing in the morning rather than at night to reflect your natural breathing pattern.
To do this:
- Take a normal breath in through your nose.
- Let it out through your nose.
- Hold your nostrils with your fingers and stop breathing.
- Time the number of seconds until you feel the first clear desire to breathe. (You may feel the need to swallow or your abdomen or throat might lightly contract. When you feel something like this stop the timer).
BOLT is NOT checking how long you can hold your breath but how quickly your body reacts to a lack of air.
A score of 20 seconds is average. A score of 40 is particularly good. If your score is under 20 then that’s a sign of a poor breathing rhythm and maybe over-breathing through the mouth during the day or while you sleep.
Breathing through the mouth could lead to exhaling too much carbon dioxide and your tissues receive less oxygen as a result, so nose breathing is preferable.
Breathing methods such as The Wim Hof breathing method or pranayama breathing often used in yoga are examples of breathing techniques which have gained popularity. If you are following any breathing tehnique, keeping track of your BOLT scores overt the days you are using a particular technique is a good way to understand if the breathing technique is affecting your normal breathing rhythm.
How to Breathe While Running For Beginner Runners
There are a few signs to look out for that may show you are not using your diaphragm efficiently, besides just gasping for air whilst running. These can be things like tightness or pain in your neck, or shoulders that raise and lower, an asymmetrical rotation in your torso, an arched back or flared ribs, and paradoxical breathing, when your stomach rises as you exhale and sinks when you inhale.
Bringing awareness to your breathing builds more efficiency, a steadier pace, and a calmer mind, even during high-pressure races. Inhaling through your nose, expanding your stomach, and out through your mouth, allowing your stomach to sink is ideal for the best gas exchange at an easy pace. Give your body time to adapt, then it’s time to take focused breathing on the move with rhythmic patterns. starting by inhaling for two counts, then exhaling for two, a pattern called 2:2 breathing. This will help pace yourself better, the steadier you’re breathing, the less likely you are to go out too hard—and ensure a steady flow of oxygen to your muscles.
If you are new to this, practise it walking first, then on easy runs focus for a minute or two and gradually increasing your focus. As you grow more comfortable with focused breathing, you can use it for faster runs, such as intervals.
Many new runners breathe from their chest instead of their diaphragm, further limiting their oxygen intake. Combat this with belly breathing. For five minutes in the morning or before you run, lie down and place your hand on your stomach. Take slow, deep breaths that lift your hand as you inhale and sink it as you exhale. (I’ve been practicing the Wim Hof Method in a seated meditation position every morning. In through the nose and out through the mouth). Once you’re comfortable on the ground, try taking belly breaths when walking, then running.
So keep thinking to yourself: breathing from my belly, not shrugging my shoulders or straining my neck.
Good luck and breathe efficiently. I am NOT an expert on breathwork but I certainly like to seek out advice and reliable sources.
I’d love to hear if this has been of benefit or if you have any suggestions.
Alive & Kicking.
Covid-19 has changed our lives in so many ways. It’s changed how, where, and if we work. It’s created economic concerns, made us fear for our safety and the safety of our loved ones, and brought up feelings of anxiety in even the most level-headed of people. Paranoia and mistrust is on the increase.
For some people a lack of trust in the data regarding the seriousness of the pandemic itself or whether it is even real can be based on a government’s management, what’s shared in the media, the behaviour of others in the outside world, which only confirms their bias, e.g. “I see people hitting the beaches, restaurants, crowding together and not wearing masks so it is not serious. In fact the pandemic is probably false.” Then a conspiracy theory may manifest to install a feeling of certainty in what is uncertain (our future) and invisible (the virus). It is a mechanism to help cope with uncertainty by justifying those negative feelings of mistrust, of having a lack of control, of feeling helpless, by coming up with a theory, despite not having clear evidence to back it up. But our brain is designed to believe in stories that satisfy our emotional needs regardless of whether they are true or not, so there lies the problem…
This is not painting a great picture at all for anyone living in the entrapments of mistrust and an era of misinformation. So how can a therapy such as hypnotherapy help? Hypnotherapy works as a powerful adjunct alongside various psychotherapies such as CBT, counselling, humanistic and analytical therapy. As a hypnotherapist I focus on what outome you are looking for, as opposed to feeding and embedding the issue more. The inner dialogue running around our head dictates how we live our life. So a “I don’t trust anything or anyone anymore” is a very fixed, generalised and agonising mindset which can lead to feelings of anxiety and isolation, while a “Things are a bit weird for everyone to adjust to at the moment. Lots of us are struggling in some way or another” is a wider and more objective perspective.
There’s a saying and it goes like this:
It’s not just an event like this pandemic which triggers feelings of mistrust, but it’s also a combination of our own personal beliefs towards it which influence our mental health and well-being.
What can we do for someone who is suffering? First of all, remind that person we will get through this together and it wil be talked about for decades. You will be part of history. No pandemic goes on forever and fortunately today we have more scientists to work quickly at finding a vaccine. If it weren’t for putting our trust in science we could still be in risk of dying from smallpox today. Secondly, trying times gives us an opportunity to focus on building habits to improve our relationships and resiliency. And one of these habits is building trust. Think about the survivors of environmental disasters and other traumatic experiences (such as 9/11). These experiences can bring people closer together and can build trust and deepen relationships. Sometimes out of the hellish of situations a sense of communal support, bound by a shared experience can go a long way. Afterall, we need supportive relationships in order to survive. So two elements are fundamental to overcome this pandemic – one is a vaccine, and the other is trust, especially on a more global level as we are all effected the world over in some way or another.
What are some habits that we can work on building to help us in this particular moment?
- Mindful hypnotherapy exercises can be used to practice being in the moment and prevent negative rumination. The only experience we are certain of is the present moment. The past has gone and our brain has an ability to distort information that has already happened. And the future is yet to happen so we can only speculate about things that are less certain.
- Finding gratitude and joy in the now is a wonderful habit, spending a few moments saying to yourself, or say out loud, or even journalling daily to rewire the brain from its tendency towards negative bias. “Today I am grateful for…” or “…..makes me happy/….brings me joy.”
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy combined with hypnotherapy (CBH) may be used, for example, to look at the fact that business leaders cannot control the pandemic, nor can they control other external forces beyond their sphere of influence. Therefore, leaders must focus on the areas they can control—such as product and service quality, treating their employees well and protecting them, commitment to behaving ethically and transparently—and infuse their actions in those areas with purpose and integrity. We as individuals cannot control the pandemic either, but we can learn techniques such as self-hypnosis to manage stress, isolation, fear, anxiety to empower us and gain back control, resilience and balance in our mental health and well-being. The more self-hypnosis is practiced, the more powerful it becomes.
- Seek out practical information from trusted sources for basic problem-solving. You can get good quality information online and from credible sources, though I recommend you stick with 1, 2 or 3 major sources to avoid being overwhelmed with too much information, and not believe in everything shared on your Facebook feed.
- Apart from hypnotherapy for managing stress and anxiety, learning self-hypnosis to enhance your immune functioning has plenty of evidence to back it up. Here’s a couple of published articles below:
Gruzelier, J., Champion, A., Fox, P., Rollin, M., McCormack, S., Catalan, P., . . . Henderson, D. (2002). Individual differences in personality, immunology and mood in patients undergoing self-hypnosis training for the successful treatment of a chronic viral illness, HSV-2. Contemporary Hypnosis, 19(4). doi: 10.1002/ch.253
Ruzyla-Smith, P., Barabasz, A., Barabasz, M., & Warner, D. (1995). Effects of hypnosis on the immune response: B-cells, T-cells, helper and suppressor cells. American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 38(2), 71-79.
If you’d like to learn how to use Hypnosis and Self-Hypnosis for Managing During a Pandemic and schedule a call just click the button below.
C/F3 2020 NEOWISE will not make an appearance for another 6800 years.
Whilst the planet is living in a state of change, and much uncertainty day by day, one thing that is certain is when looking up at the vastness of space, it reminds us that we are really no more than a minute blue blip in the ocean of space and time.
Marcus Aurelius’ stoic meditations “The View From Above” is one way of looking at our problems from a dissociated and broader perspective, almost trivialising issues as being less significant than first perceived. Aurelius happened to live through a pandemic that lasted for some 12 years! Fortunately for us today we have scientists, specialists and easier ways of collecting data to contain the spread and duration of COVID-19. People are working tiredlessly against the clock to understand and fight this invisible and miniscule virus. And all the while Comet Neowise continues on its path, an epic journey of 6800 years before it shall grace our skies again. Think about that, it will be in the year close to 9000 when it will make another appearance over Earth. Who knows how the Earth and those inhabiting it will be in the future? With time being ever so changing we cannot make judgements based on how things are today. Who would have envisioned the Earth as it is in 21st century whilst living in the Stone Age? Therefore, now is a time to grace our minds in HOPE. Hope that there is more equality, more collaboration, more respect, more thriving natural beauty…hope that Neowise will be met with awe and a deeper connection in the future, time and time again. That is until the Earth will finally be consummed by our swelling Sun when it is in its last phases of life. It’s time to embrace the idea of impermanence. Control what you can control and accept what you can’t.
And how about this for mind-bending awesomeness? Do you know which is the farthest thing you can see with your naked eye? It’s the Andromeda galaxy, a collection of a trillion stars lying 2.5million light years distant. Now that’s a blooming long way to be able to see an object through our eyes without the use of any instruments! Also known as M31, it is the nearest large galaxy to the Milky Way. When we look at the galaxy we are actually seeing how it looked 2.5million years ago as it takes 2.5million years for its light to reach our eyes! Who knows how the galaxy actually is at this current moment in time or whether it exists in the spiral form that we know it as? And if we were miraculously able to go to the Andromeda Galaxy (just use your wonderful imagination here) and had the most powerful telescope ever to look back at the Earth, we would be seeing the Earth 2.5million years ago looking at Homo habilis, the”handy man” of the Early Stone Age running around and hoping not to be caught by some saber-toothed tiger!
As Comet Neowise carries on its course so do I and my family. We saw it last night (we run Astronomy tours) with a reduced group of mask-wearing people and it was like saying farewell to a dear friend as it is quite unlikely that we will see it again due to the change in weather conditions and the Moon washing out the sky. A closed chapter combined with nostalgic sadness.
I confess to worrying a lot lately, not so much about myself and my husband working with tourists and the possible risk of contracting the virus, but about the care of our young children should we both fall ill. I worry about our finances and the fact that it looks like a second wave is going to hit Spain soon. Just the prospect of another quarantine and not being able to earn enough money to pay the bills to have a roof over our head and food on the table from living on an island heavily dependent on tourism makes us reflect on our future. What we gain living here on the island of Lanzarote is more security healthwise (as it’s easier to isolate the virus on a small island) but we also run a risk of suffering economically if tourism is stopped as a consequence. It’s a double-edged sword. So now it’s time to look for a better balance for our health and finances. A growth mindset is in action and future orientating. Plus going out for a good run to keep the mind more balanced really helps.
We are going to take a leap of faith filled with hope to keep us going in these times of uncertainty. SO if you are still reading this to the end be prepared for some news coming very soon…it excites me and it scares the crap out of me at the same time.
and anchoring a positive state
We’re all experiencing changes since the lockdown and today in Spain is the first day since March 14th(?) that outdoor exercise can take place. There are rules. Only between 5am-10am or 8pm-11pm for running, walking, cycling and surfing and 10m distance between runners.
My last decent run feels a long time ago (see pic below) and I can hardly believe what has happened during that space of time.
Benidorm Half Marathon 29th Feb. 2020.
Exercise since then has consisted of skipping with my son’s skipping rope in the garden and running infinite circuits in the shape of the number 8 on my roof top whilst keeping my mind entertained running in such a small space. But at least I had the space to do so.
A Beautiful Insight into Today’s Release in the Outdoors
If there’s something beautiful that can be gained from this lockdown, it’s the hightened feeling of being allowed to go out and do something you haven’t been able to do for a long time. When 8pm came and I stepped out on to the street I was swept with a sudden surge of childlike excitement. It was the most wonderful feeling and being a hypnotherapist I knew how resourceful it is to keep hold of good sensations in the body, so I decided to anchor it.
Anchoring the Good Stuff
If you do not know what is anchoring, one example of this is when you hear a certain piece of music and you associate it with a memory which makes you feel in a certain way. In my case I wanted to harness a wonderful positive anchor of feeling a way I had not felt in a long time – that childlike excitement as if you were about to open up your Christmas presents that I experienced this evening. I was actually shaking my hands with excitement at the prospect of going out and running through the fishing village where I live (see main pic) and running along the avenida next to the sea.
To create your own really good anchor, now is a great time if you have been confined indoors for long and are finally allowed to go out and do something you’ve missed after such a long time. Emotions may be heightened. Maybe there is a deeper sense of gratitude or excitement or euphoria or peacefulness, or something else. Whatever it is, now is a good time to really notice how you are feeling and where in your body are those sensations. Maybe give it a form, a colour and notice if it has a movement. Mine was a warm golden swirling feeling I associate as bliss and euphoria, which I took with me through the run, smiling and giving the thumbs-up to other runners (at a safe distance apart, of course). I decided to use my shaking out my hands movement as my anchor to associate with these wonderful sensations and practised it a few times on my run to help condition it.
There was a perfect sunset and temperature, the surfers out for the first time in months, the sound of relaxed music coming from the open windows of some of the beach houses. The chilled out vibe of a surfers village but with a quieter peacefulness to it. A number of people were out walking and enjoying the tranquility of the last rays of sunshine and the beautiful orange sky. My heart rate was higher than usual due to not having been able to keep up my normal running training, but I felt great nevertheless in this anchored state.
You may be wondering what is the point in all of this? Well, if I ever find myself demotivated to do some work or de-energised on a run, or just plain down, I can shake out my hands and bring about a different physiological state which can counteract the unproductive ones, feeling that childlike excitement. Does that make sense? Like putting on your favourite song to give you a lift. It takes practice but it’s worth it.
Once again, during these times of gradual changes, when you do experience something liberating after a long confinement, really tune in to your body and notice what you notice and anchor it somewhere on to your body (e.g. touching the thumb and index finger together to fire those sensations off) giving you quick access to changing state in a variety of situations.
I hope you also can find some useful insight during these times of change.
My best wishes to you all.
“Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.” Pablo Picasso
What are goals all about?
In short simplified terms, goals are something structured to strive towards, for moving forwards in life. No goals means no sense of purpose or direction, just drifting and running a race with no finishing line. Some may say a life without goals is liberating but I like to find meaning in what I do and build resilience.
The WHY behind goals is important and this is often overlooked. My WHAT goal is to run my second half marathon in Benidorm next Saturday with the aim of improving on my first marathon time, hitting the 2hr mark. WHY? I like to challenge myself, I feel great pushing my limits, it boosts my self-confidence, and I love the discipline of sticking to a training plan and getting fitter.
However, life is not linear. I suffered a hamstring injury which put me out of training for two weeks, I have been working very hard on another goal which is to complete my portfolio to a high standard for my Hypnotherapy/NLP Diploma (this became my main priority), I am currently suffering from fatigue due to having difficulties absorbing iron despite a well-balanced diet. It sounds like a string of excuses but as a consequence I’ve had to taper my training significantly.
Reviewing goals and updating
It’s a good idea to check in and review personal goals regularly. Are they still SMART goals? That is, are they realistic, achievable and timely? I could see from the evidence of my training that my goal is not realistic, nor achievable or timely. My endurance is there, but boy, have I slowed down! My hamstring injury twinges means I’m running with shorter strides (many runners are masochists who carry on running despite their injuries!). So I’ve adjusted my goal. Instead I am now looking at finishing the half marathon at just under 2hr 15min (that’s 9min slower than my first). I aim to enjoy it and gain half marathon experience whilst facing the challenge of running in unknown territory.
After all, what is the point in setting yourself up for failure? By reviewing and tweaking your goal, you are looking at a win/win situation whilst still challenging yourself. That’s what I’ve done and it’s still motivating. Realistic goals are a bit of a grey area and may be interpreted as safe and less demanding. However, it’s finding that boundary between a goal that’s big enough to take you out of your comfort zone and push yourself. That’s what I’ll be doing in the half marathon, just not quite as much as I first hoped but enough to push myself through fatigue and running with a twinge in my left leg! And there will be plenty of testing out my self-hypnosis skills!
I have to say the last couple of months have been all about good time management, discipline to keep on track, a positive outlook, being mindful, engaging in self-hypnosis, and importantly, being kind to myself. Please be kind to yourself too and accept that life is not linear but at times a mountain to climb. But when you do reach the top and enjoy the broad clear view, it’s beautiful.
So here’s to the Benidorm Half Marathon, 18.30h on the 29th February, 2020! Then it’s off to Bournemouth again for some hypnosis seminars run by my brilliant tutor, Adam Eason. Looking forward to catching-up with a few colleagues whilst I’m there. 🙂
What’s your personal goals and why?
Alive & Kicking.
After deciding during my Hypnotherapy course in March that I wanted to complete my first half marathon before the end of the year, it finally happened. The Lanzarote International Marathon 07-12-2019.
I needed to be sure that I had set myself some clear goals to prepare for it, SMART goals with the aid of bodybuilder champion Gary Hill to guide me which involved discipline, training tactics, having the right mindset and good time management. SMART is for: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. Thanks for the support and guidance Gary!
Also I had delved into my tutor’s book ‘Hypnosis For Running’ by Adam Eason and used many techniques which are a mixture of cognitive sports psychology, cognitive behavioural therapy, hypnotherapy, self-hypnosis, mindfulness and meditation processes. Thanks Adam on being a wonderful tutor and what a marvellous book you’ve written! It’s my running bible.
I had a realistic goal of completing the race in windy conditions within 2hr 15min (the direction of the half marathon means running into the wind virtually all the way). I’m not a fast runner but my endurance is good. I’ve learnt to embrace the Lanzarote wind and not battle with it.
The day was perfect. Yes, there was wind but it was manageable and the temperature was just right. A little bit of drizzle for a few minutes but nothing more. A change in the course with an extra hill thrown in due to roadworks but everything else as planned.
My husband also ran the half marathon. In his late teens and early twenties he had ran many half marathons and so was excited to be reliving an old passion. We both understood that we were running at our own pace and that he would be ahead of me and I was not going to try and keep up with him!
One of my key preparations for this race was finding my optimum level for performance. Not too over-anxious and not under-energised at the start. An important technique I learnt from Adam’s book on ‘arousal’ levels (snigger!). I engaged in self-hypnosis and found the right balance for me to start the first few kms into the race at a comfortable 5m45s per km. I felt great despite noticing that in the pack around me a lot of over-excitement and nerves. Runners charging like crazy, some irrate and swearing, a few pushes. After 3km things seemed to spread out a bit, a few runners were already walking and some were panting from pushing too hard.
As I ran past Playa Honda I was expectant to see my friend with my two sons waiting to cheer me on. There they were. My friend, Vanessa was shouting, “Go, Amanda Mandry!” and my two sons looking rather nonchalant! It was me ending up cheering my boys on to put some spark into them! Anyway I felt great.
I’d describe this run as the most mindful run I’ve ever done. My awareness was so on my interior. I was only aware of the sound of the patter of feet, both mine and other runners, my breathing, and a comforting feeling of unity and peace. At times there seemed to be sheer silence. My body felt strong and relaxed, my breathing was comfortable and I don’t even remember how I arrived to Arrecife, that’s how so absorbed and focused I was on my interior! My mind was the quietest it has ever been on a run. There were moments when I was thinking “I’m loving this!”
My first 10km was kept at a constant rhythm of just under 6min per km. I knew exactly where the water and iso-drinks and fruit stops were. At the 11km 500m mark I felt I was ready for putting some more energy into my leg muscles. I grabbed without stopping a little iso-drink and a piece of banana and used all of my Celtic hypnotic witchery(!) and imagined charging the banana with magical properties that would boost my leg muscles. It worked a treat! I could really feel a buzz in my legs which got me up the hilly parts well. In fact the only time I had any unhelpful thoughts during the race was as I passed the Art Museum Castle on the hill and I felt annoyed by the fact that the local political party had removed Jason deCaires ‘Rising Tide’ sculptures from the sea and there instead was moored a luxurious yacht! I quickly let this thought go, recognising how of little benefit it was to me at that moment. I went back to my breathing and telling myself “I am strong, focused and relaxed”.
I saw the sign for 5km to the finish and my thought was “Only 5km to go! Nearly there! I’ve got this.” All the time breathing in strength and telling myself I’ve got more left in me than I think and pushed a little harder. Running through Costa Teguise seemed like a blur and I don’t remember the running journey until I suddenly saw the sign for last 1km. I noticed a number of runners were really dragging and I told myself “Give it everything! I can do it.” I activated my gazelle (hehehehe!) and breathing hard and pushing myself I ran with big strides, until I saw the finish in sight and drove myself even harder. That last 1km I did in 4min 58s, proving that there really is more left in me than I perceive.
As I was approaching the last 100m I remember thinking clearly, “This is great! When’s the next half marathon?!” There was my friend with my two sons (still looking nonchalant!) waiting near the finish.
I recovered very quickly after passing the finish line and felt satisfied. The endorphins ran for some time through my body that day and I felt really energised until the adrenaline ran out and I had the best sleep I’ve had in a long time!
Hubby finished in 2hrs and had a less satisfying experience saying he suffered the last 10km. On reflection he realised he pushed too hard at the beginning and did not refuel properly during the race. He struggled across the finish line perceiving the race as a suffering experience. A race experience that was so very different to mine. He had hoped for a faster time and he would have got it too if he had gone into the race differently. Next time for sure.
I’ve now got a clear goal of reaching that 2hr mark for my next half marathon and I know I can do it. We’re already signing up for the Benidorm Half Marathon on the 29th February, 2020 and there will be more as I build up to my long term goal of running a full marathon distance.
Alive & Kicking.
I’ve been VERY quiet on here now for some time. I’ve only recently returned from my second block of intensive study in Bournemouth for my Clinical Hypnotherapy Diploma. Time management has been crucial in keeping up with my studies and coursework, being a busy mother, a wife, helping out in my husband’s business, training, looking after friends’ children, taxi driving my boys back and forth, pursuing my own personal interests, having time for being sociable, etc. etc.
Since the first block at Bournemouth in March I was motivated to set myself some goals and really challenge myself so I decided that I will run my first half marathon this year https://www.lanzaroteinternationalmarathon.com/ and progressively building up to running a full marathon sometime in the near future. I went into that course in March with the limiting belief that I’ll never be able to run that distance and came out of the first block of the course eager and ready to start up a training plan having dispelled that belief. My husband has been motivated to take on the challenge too!
So meanwhile I have almost silently been training intensively since April. (You can follow me on https://www.instagram.com/picachuqueen/ ). I returned for my second block in September and almost like a type of Forrest Gump started off with early 6am runs only to be joined by one colleague, then two colleagues, then 5 colleagues! All motivated to get some exercise (and ice-cream!). I loved that.
It was really great to have spent the last day on an early morning run with my tutor, Adam Eason, who was in training for his incredible ultra marathon runs. He subtly challenged me on that run right at the end! Also, one of my colleagues, Ahmed showed great diligence in taking up running with me and keeping up with the running during our time on the course.
So now I am up to 5-day a week technical runs and fitting in strength, core and mobility exercises.
I had noticed that I was going through a phase where my running pace seemed to be slower. I had a lot of accumulated fatigue. I persevered and managed to blast that fatigue away by not focusing on the tiredness and by telling myself I am getting more stronger and fitter every time I run. I then began to maintain a better pace with this different perception of effort. I could see progressive improvements being made but I had one major mental block. I kept telling myself I haven’t got enough fuel in the tank or power to run in zone 4. Before I knew it my heart rate wouldn’t pass zone 3 even on intense interval runs. I had kind of resigned myself to that being my limit.
I spoke about this to my Spanish neighbour who is a sports trainer and he said, “Amanda, no tienes chispa” which basically translates as I don’t have any spark. Now when someone tells me I don’t have x,y, or z I like to prove them wrong. I started thinking about the idea of a spark. It occurred to me that this is a limiting belief I’ve had from my school days of coming last in the shorter races and not having much power (spark) for speed. To be honest I was a gangly, uncoordinated child and teenager and would often fall over myself! I realised how ridiculous it was to carry this old belief into the present day and worked on powering up my legs under self-hypnosis by imagining lighting up a spark in the back of my feet which set a powerful fire through my feet and raging up my legs. I anchored this to the phrase “Light that Spark”.
I tested this out on my medium run. When I had reached zone 3 and was gearing up to go into zone 4 I prepared to ‘Light that spark’, and boy, not only did my anchoring phrase kick in with my whole body posture and running gait changing but I also got the fastest 1 km time I have ever ran. With determination to prove my thinking wrong I maintained a great speed for a good amount of time in zone 4 whilst feeling strong and in control. That, I have to say was satisfying and it goes to show how enhanced sports performance may be 50% physical training and 50% mental training. Training your mind to blast limiting beliefs is a real game changer.
Alive & Kicking.
This Saturday I am going to run my first race in (I can’t believe it) 3 years. In fact the last race which was the Wine Run turned out to be more of a walk! So I could say that in reality my last running race was in 2015!
Here’s a pic of me after the last race I ran.
The race this Saturday is the very same race except I’ve signed up for the 10k. I’m hoping it to be the start of many more, building up to a half-marathon at some point.
Why haven’t I been running in any races in between then and now? It turned out that when I was running that race in 2015 it was the beginning of a downward spiral which ended up in complete burnout. I was losing weight rapidly, was extremely underweight and work and family life was taking its toll. My job was intense and I wasn’t eating properly. When I went out training I noticed that the following day my defences were down and I felt like I had flu-like symptoms. I decided by the end of 2017 to leave my job as I had reached my limit mentally and physically. Then a bitter blow came when I ended up with pneumonia three days into my Vipassana meditation retreat shortly after finishing my job. Maybe it was a sign to force me to stop and rest completely?
When I recovered I decided to take up running but again I found my defences were low the day after. I then began associating running with being ill – forming what’s called a “negative anchor”. An anchor in Neuro-Linguistic Programming is the relationship between a trigger and a change in mood – it’s a type of a stimulus response pattern. I was noting a great deal of anxiety and caution whilst I was running. Not a good mindset and I was not making any progress. I kept my diary ‘The Simple Mindful Runner’ to explore how my mind operated whilst running. I believe it was this fascination as well as wanting to help transform people’s life for the better that led me to studying Clinical Hypnotherapy at Adam Eason’s School for Hypnotherapy.
It turns out that Adam has ran ultra-marathons, has assisted well-known runners for a TV programme in the UK and has written his own book “Hypnosis For Running” . He’s currently preparing for another ultra-marathon. So I decided to test out my very own tutor’s work by using the audio version of his book with all the self-hypnosis exercises.
What have I discovered from Adam’s ‘Hypnosis for Running‘?
Wow! This has really been a game changer for me! The idea is to learn how to adopt the right mindset to hypnosis and practise hypnotic exercises repeatedly. I have learnt to keep my motivation up and to police my thoughts, have increased self-awareness, I have mentally visualised positive running scenes and my upcoming race. I have learnt to associate relaxation with running and now have techniques I can use with fast beneficial results. I have several mental imagery techniques which help improve my running performance. If you want to know them you’ll have to read the book!
I have noticed that for the first time in a long time I am thoroughly enjoying my runs and now that they feel like I put in less effort, my endurance has improved rapidly. I have made strong “positive anchors” with running and am experiencing positive changes in my mindset which influences my running and my everyday living. My goals are now set higher and they seem more attainable.
So on Saturday 21h I will be running using hypnosis. If there’s any strange thoughts to this it does not mean I’ll be running with my eyes closed!! I’ll be active and alert! My aim is to enjoy this 10k and to finish it with good energy, hopefully with a progressive last 5k. So any positive best wishes from your part will be greatly appreciated and taken on board during this fast night race in the capital.
Alive & Kicking!