I had this really great opportunity to leverage my expertise to support an article written by Susan Lacke for Triathlete Magazine’s on-line presence.

So, why do we practice structured breathing?

Great question!  A breathing practice has shown to reduce levels of anxiety which can impact our physical responses like blood pressure, heart rate, and even GI function.

This practice doesn’t need to be time intensive or overly complicated.

Here are some of the exercise examples:

Daily Breath Work

The two following breathing exercises are best done regularly in a quiet place, typically seated.

Belly Breathing (a.k.a. “Circle Breath”)

  • Settle into your seat, relax your shoulders, ease your jaw.
  • Place a hand on your belly or heart to feel the movement of the breath.
  • Inhale through the nose – fill the belly and lungs completely. Chest lifts.
  • Exhale through the mouth – slowly blow the air out, letting everything deflate like a balloon. Lips are pursed as if blowing out through a straw.
  • Repeat for 10 – 20 complete breaths

Box Breathing (or “Square Breathing”) – I also call this “Beat Boxing”  🙂

  • For ease of counting, connect all your fingertips. Hands can rest in your lap.
  • Inhale through the nose – same as above for 4 counts (left hand begins).
  • Hold the breath for 4 counts (right hand counts down).
  • Exhale through the mouth – same as above for 4 counts (left hand counts thumb to pinky).
  • Hold the exhale for 4 counts (right hand counts down pinky to thumb).
  • Repeat for 5 – 10 rounds.

Breath Work While Training

On the Run

  • Best practiced during a warm up or cool down.
  • Settle into your warm up/cool down pace.
  • Inhale through the nose for 2 counts; exhale through the nose for 2 counts.
    • These counts should be paired with your cadence.
    • For example, Right foot strike/left foot strike is one count
  • Modifications:
    • This same exercise can be done on the bike, preferably during longer stretches of effort (such as a long, flat straightaway or a steady-state effort on the trainer).
    • As you get more experience with this practice, try during the main set of your workout, too.
    • As pace increases, inhale through the nose for 2 counts; exhale through the nose for 1 count.
    • Try breathing through your nose the entire time.

Breath Work In Competition


  • This is a great practice before getting into your wetsuit and/or while waiting for your swim wave to start.
  • Stand tall, feeling grounded.
  • Breathe through the nose, filling the belly and lungs completely, for 5 – 10 rounds. Repeat if needed.
  • If at any point during a competition you need to regroup, get a few belly breaths initiated to center yourself.

Interested in getting more information?  Want an audio clip talking you through this?  Drop me a line!!


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