From idea to half marathon with nasal breathing in just 12 days - Conscious Breathing Institute

From idea to half marathon with nasal breathing in just 12 days

Below, you can read about my (Anders Olsson’s) journey in June 2012 from my idea of running a half marathon race with a taped mouth to actually doing it 28 days later. 

Saturday, July 7: Awesome response to Conscious Breathing

My dream that Conscious Breathing will become a new health movement that is a natural element in schools, workplaces, health care, preventive wellness, the sports movement and so on, is gradually becoming a reality. For example, the other day I was interviewed by Dagens Industri, the largest Swedish business newspaper. Together with a senior physician, dr. Johannes Lind, I was also intgerviewed about the importance of breathing in TV4 Morning news, the largest Swedish TV channel.

It is very pleasing to disseminate information about the importance of breathing when the feedback from those who are starting to change their daily breathing habist is so nice. I want to share some comments that I have received in only the last few days:

  • Same pulse, after 11 hours of running, as at the beginning of the race. A couple of interesting reflections from the ultra-runner Markus Avén, 52 years old, who over five weeks has increasingly started to breathe through his nose during training as well as competition: “During a recent 100-kilometer race that took about 9½ hours, I had no energy dip at all, which is not normal for me. During another 125-kilometer race, I had the same heart rate after 11 hours of running as at the beginning of the race. Normally, my heart rate is 10 beats higher. It may be that I am in the (best) shape of my life, but I cannot help thinking that the fact that I breathe more through my nose than before has something to do with it.”
  • I absolutely LOVE my Relaxator! A woman (Agneta Uhlén) said last spring: “I have been on sick leave for fatigue syndrome for a year now and have severe sleep problems. My body also experiences stress from almost everything: food, physical activity, everything that activates my brain, sounds, and so on. I have spent a lot of time on relaxation, yoga and meditation, but the real breakthrough came when I started using the Relaxator about two weeks ago. I am now exercising my breath for two hours each day, and I am sleeping better and better. My brain stress disappeared almost entirely, at once! Thank you for this amazing invention. I downright LOVE my Relaxator!” Four months later, she is still as positive: “Of all the very things I have tried—acupuncture, kinesiology, energy medicine, Ayurvedic treatments, herbs and so on—breath training with the Relaxator is what has helped me the most. According to my current opinion, I will continue training my breath with the Relaxator for a while every day for the rest of my life. So I agree with Ulla Knape that it is a miracle!
  • Waking up with no headache, and the blood pressure starting to improve. A woman and her husband took a breathing class a year ago. She says: “My husband taped his mouth at night for a while after the course and experienced improvement, but then returned to old routines and stopped taping. This spring, he had a headache every morning when he woke up as well as high blood pressure. I also did not sleep well, because I constantly woke up because he had sleep apnea and basically stopped breathing, which made me worried. Then, he suddenly realized that he should tape his mouth again! (A wife’s nagging rarely helps, so I gave up doing that!) And now he wakes up without a headache, and his blood pressure has started to improve. One night, the tape happened to fall off, and he got sleep apnea again. Then, I really noticed how stressed I had been, myself, while sleeping because he had been breathing poorly. I am glad he now tapes his mouth every night so I get to sleep too. Good sleep is really important for health.”
  • Slept great all night. It is absolutely incredible. Can it be that simple? Another woman called me the other day and said: “I have been so very stressed for the last six months and have been feeling so bad that if there is no change soon I will not be able to cope anymore. To be able to sleep, I need sleeping pills, but after receiving your newsletter yesterday I tried taping my mouth, and I fell asleep without problems and slept great at night. It is absolutely incredible. Can it be that simple!?
  • Have had many positive effects from taping my mouthg shutduring the night. A dentist emailed me today: “I was earlier a mouth-breather but now tape my mouth every evening! Have had many positive effects from taping my mouth at night (would actually like to do that in the daytime too) such as less mouth dryness (of course), been able to stop using sleeping pills, deeper sleep with fewer waking periods, more alert during daytime, better sex life, less mucus in my throat in the morning, and better vocal voice (I sing in a barberhop choir).”
  • I had my best running workout ever the other day. A woman wrote a moment ago: “I want you to know that you are such an inspiration. I had my best running workout ever the other day. 8.6 kilometers in 47 minutes with 100% nasal breathing. No soreness the day after. THANK YOU for inspiring me <3"!
  • These nice stories, I will bring with me into my holiday that starts tomorrow.

    If your body, thoughts and emotions are an orchestra, then your breathing is the conductor that makes sweet music come to life!

    Wednesday, July 4: Interval training is fun!

    After the half marathon race morning on Saturday and even on Sunday and Monday, my legs (thighs) were not really recognizable. I strutted around like a alcoholic on a catwalk, believing that my walk was smooth and graceful while, in fact, everyone could see that it was stilted and ungainly. I must hereby eat my claim that nasal breathing reduces exercise pain (although I think the main reason was lack of fluid due to the tension before the race). At no time during these three years that I have been breathing through my nose during physical activity have I experienced any significant soreness. The fact that I gained two kg from Sunday to Monday and reached my normal weight confirms the fact that my body was drained of fluid.

    But yesterday the pain in my thighs was gone, and, triggered by an interesting discussion at a forum for runners where a man wrote patronizing, “When I run at a 3:35 per km pace, I would probably have collapsed pretty quickly due to lack of oxygen had I been breathing through my nose,” I wanted to try for myself by running intervals and sometimes run a little faster. During my jogging round yesterday, I managed to run at a 4:00 pace the first kilometer, which is much, much faster than I had run before. It was also not such that I used all the power I had since I managed to maintain an average speed of 5:14 per km during the totally 7 km I ran using nasal breathing only.

    Today, I tried the same round again and ran the first kilometer in 3:42. Then, I ran another somewhat faster km in 4:39. The average speed of the 7 km was 5:02.

    Sorry for all the numbers, but I find them interesting. For some reason I find it easier to remember a woman’s social security number or car registration number than her eye color :)

    Intervals were really fun, and there will certainly be more later on, but now there will probably be some workouts without a watch so that I can enjoy the experience more.

    Got a new nice customer story today from an 85-year-old former lawyer - I have got my health and will to live back! An excerpt: “Now, it is 15 weeks since I needed a blood transfusion. Earlier, I got them every 5th week since my blood counts were so bad. Improved breathing has given me my health and my will to live back! From having lived a very inactive life the last few years due to low energy, I am now out walking, cycling on an exercise bike and doing strength training in my own way."It is a fun job I have, inspiring other people to improve their breathing :) !

    Saturday, June 30: Half marathon race faster than two hours with 100 % nasal breathing

    It is done, my first race, the 21-km Kustmaran (“The Coast Marathon Race”) in Kristianopel outside Karlskrona. According to the plan, I ran with a taped mouth. In fact, I had wrapped duct tape all around my head to make sure it stayed there the entire race. The goal was to a) finish the race and b) run faster than two hours. Since I ran at 1.59.58, I achieved my goal with a good margin :)

    During the race, I did not stop once, and it seemed like I kept a steady pace all the time, even though I do not really know as I did not have a watch. As the tape made me unable to drink, I poured water over my head instead on a couple of occasions.

    After finishing the race, there were a few minutes of filming and photographing. “Water,” was the first thing I said when I was finally able to pull off the tape :) Having my hands behind my head and my elbows pulled back projects my chest and causes the inhaled air to get further down. Along with prolonged exhalation, it is a perfect way to recover quickly.

    The race today was a tougher experience than when I ran 21 kilometers during training a couple of weeks ago. It was the same weather as during today’s race, about 22 degrees Centigrade and mostly sunny, but then I felt mentally stronger and did not get as tired. Afterwards, I did not feel as stiff either and did not have the same craving for water. I am pretty sure that this had to do with the tension before the race. I realized the night before, “Oops, now it is soon time to deliver.” I slept a little uneasily at night, and in the morning before the race I had to pee frequently.

    Some people pointed out the risks of not drinking, but I felt safe with my decision, partly because I had tried to run the same distance earlier without drinking, and partly from knowing a lot about the importance of water as I translated the book - Your Body’s Cries for Water. Also, I was aware of studies showing that up to 42% less water leaves the body during nasal breathing compared to mouth breathing. Although some people may think that I am a little half-crazy, I am not stupid and would, of course, have stopped to drink if I had thought I would not have made it otherwise.

    I did not experience the thirst as particularly great during the race, but if I had been able to run the race again I would definitely have drunk water at least a couple of times.

    The purpose of the tape race?

    The curiosity was great afterwards, and the questions were justified. Why had I done it? What was the purpose? As far as I know, nobody, either in Sweden or abroad, have ever run a half marathon race with a taped mouth. And it was not just to avoid swallowing flies and mosquitoes that I had put tape all over my face :) The purpose was partly to get attention, as I wanted to make people aware of how important it is to breathe properly. Fortunately, I got a lot of attention in local media, and I hope it will lead to an increased interest in improving one’s breathing. And not only for those of you who exercise but also those of you who want to improve your health and have, for example, asthma, mental stress, sleep problems, upset stomach or bowel, weight problems, COPD or heart problems.

    The other purpose was to show that it works out splendidly, that it is really excellent to breathe through one’s nose during physical activity with far greater intensity than most of us think is possible.

    Benefits of nasal respiration

    In the nose, the air is heated and humidified at the same time as bacteria, virus, and fungi are cleaned away. When breathing, the air entering the respiratory system is cold, dry, raw and full of bacteria and virus. The benefits of nasal breathing, from an excercise standpoint, are therefore, mainly that the respiratory system is kept open, breathing becomes more efficient, and oxygenation increases. In other words, we will achieve more with less effort:

  • Increased endurance
  • Faster recovery
  • Less soreness
  • Lower heart rate
  • Reduced internal stress
  • Increased fat burning
  • To sum it up, it has been a very interesting experience from my initial idea to a half marathon in 27 days. The biggest win is the wonderful feeling of harmony I am experiencing right now, a few hours after the race. I think this sense of well-being and inner calm is a big reason why we love to get moving. By moving while also breathing through the nose, we can achieve this wonderful feeling of harmony with less effort.

    Now, I will have to take it easy and recover to see if there are new challenges ahead to engage in. Running a race, in fact, made me want to do more similar things.

    May the force be with you!

    Tuesday, June 26: I have tossed the watch and am having a wonderful time!

    Midsummer was celebrated in Dalarna with my friend Ove and his family. Very nice with good food and a lovely "octathalon" with, among other things, football, stock sawing and balance cycling :)

    I did not do any running during the midsummer weekend to allow my body to recover, but I cycled some kilometers. The last three weeks, it has been inspiring to take the time when I exercise, something I have not done in many years. At the same time, I have noticed that I have returned to old sins and become increasingly a "slave" of the watch. Therefore, when I went out yesterday to run 7 km, I left the watch at home. I did the same thing during today’s 7-kilometer run. It feels great, and I have really been able to enjoy the running to the fullest.


    One of my challenges in life is to not to get lost in my thoughts and let my brain overrun my body.

    I notice that I have been training for 19½ hours since I started June 6. I feel strong in my body and look forward with confidence to Saturday’s half marathon race.

    One thing I notice clearly is that the mucus production in my nose increases when I exert more effort or when my body is imbalanced. For example, when I ran 21 km my legs became a bit stiff after about 10 km and continued to be like that for a couple of km. This coincided with the fact that I got more snot in my nose and had to blow my nose at least five times (compared to only once during the other 19 km).

    I got a great customer story yesterday: Life is returning very quickly after many years of illness. An excerpt:

    "It is 20 years since I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Thirteen years ago, I became burnt out and later early retired. During all these years, I have had a strong internal stress, low energy, a lot of pain, tense muscles, hard to sleep and a stomach that has not been working properly. Two and a half months ago, I came into contact with Conscious Breathing. I feel so much better since I started breathing in and out through my nose and exercising daily with the Relaxator. It seems like a miracle has occurred!

    It is always inspiring and educational to share my thoughts and ideas on breathing. A web course for 17 knowledge-seeking people who wanted to learn more about breathing completed a very successful day.

    Take care and breathe low and slow!

    Thursday, June 21: The journey continues

    Since Friday’s 21 km jogging round (June 15), I have mostly taken it easy and walked, cycled and swam to keep my body going while the legs have been able to rest a little.

    But today it was time to put on my jogging shoes again and run 10 km. With my friend and coach Håkan Wester's words, “Having the ambition to set a new record every time you run is probably not a very wise strategy," ringing in my ears, I set out on the morning’s jogging round in wonderful weather. And, consequently, I set a new record for 5 km (4.54 min/km) and 10 km (5.14 min/km). Today, the duct tape was also on all the time, and there were occasional surprised or amused looks along the road :)

    A friendly woman, who became very interested in the benefits of nasal breathing, helped me eternalize today’s jogging round.

    My idea of running a half marathon race with taped mouth in Kristianopel outside Karlskrona has aroused great interest, as not only the local newspapers BLT and Sydöstran and the local radio but also several TV channels have contacted me.

    For the past 1½ years, I have had problems with my calves. Someone mentioned that I had “old man calves,” and it may be close to the truth, as it is now some years since turned 40. But luckily I got help from a really good physiotherapist, Torkel Idéhn.

    Happy midsummer!

    Sunday, June 17: 2 days later ...

    ... I feel like a prince!

    On Friday, I could certainly feel that I had run 21 km. I was a bit tired and somewhat stiff in my calves and thighs. BUT already on Saturday morning, I was really alert, and the rigidity in my calves and the thighs was mostly gone; my hips, however, were hurting somewhat. This, however, did not prevent me from taking a two hour walk (I got lost, so it became slightly longer than I had imagined :) .)

    After the walk, I have had no bad sensations or stiffness at all. As far as I know my body, that is an exceptionally fast recovery! At the same time, I am not surprised, as time and time again it’s been proven, both for my own part and from other people who have tried it, that nasal breathing make us recover faster. Today, it seems like I could easily have run 10 km without any problems whatsoever. The next running workout will, however, be postponed a few more days.

    Water is wonderful! Quite fun to drive a boat too!

    Stockholm’s archipelago is BEAUTIFUL!

    Friday, June 15: From idea to half marathon in just 12 days!

    Today, my schedule said half marathon, and since my body felt perfectly okay and had recovered from Tuesday’s 15 km I did not hesitate much. Got to the finish line at 1.58.34, which gives a time of 5.37 per km. That was even slightly faster than Tuesday’s 15 km race. As usual, I used 100 % nasal respiration, and it worked out very well.

    Given that it is only 12 days since the idea of a half marathon race with only nasal breathing was born, I am incredibly pleased with how my body has responded.

  • Day 0: The idea of a half marathon race with only nasal breathing (and taped mouth) is born
  • Day 3: Ran 5 km with timing and surgical tape over my mouth (5.27 min/km)
  • Day 4: Ran 5 km with duct tape (5.22 min/km)
  • Day 7: Ran 10 km with no tape but 100 % nasal breathing (final time 54.42 = 5.26 min/km)
  • Day 9: Ran 15 km with nasal breathing (final time 1.25.50 = 5.41 min/km)
  • Day 12: Ran 21 km with nasal breathing (final time 1.58.34 = 5.37 min/km)
  • I have, per se, nothing to compare it to, but I find it difficult to see that I could have managed this rapid escalation at the same time as having my body recover well without the help of nasal breathing.

    Today, I ran the first four kilometers and took, mainly, three steps on inhalation and four steps on exhalation. It was good to focus on breathing in the beginning because I did not think much about how very far there was left to run :) After the first four km, I took three steps on inhalation and three steps on exhalation to finish the last two km with 3 in and 4 out. That gave me an energy boost, and I could even raise the speed slightly towards the end.

    While having increased the distance from 5 km to 21 km, I have been able to run at almost the same km times, which is very interesting. Another thing that is striking is that I have had minimal soreness. Right now, however, my calves are sore, so we will have to see how they will recover after today’s workout :)

    Now, I will take the weekend off to spend it in the Stockholm archipelago along with some friends. I think, however, I will skip water skiing today :)

    Take care of yourself!

    All the greenery makes it a wonderful season to go out and run! Here is a picture of a part of today’s round.

    Tuesday, June 12: Wow, I am progressing fast - 15 km today

    After having recovered that well from the Sunday’s 10 km workout, I signed up for the half marathon race yesterday. There is still, however, a huge uncertainty factor regarding how my body will respond to longer distances. But if it would not work out, no big deal, I will just cross my name off the list.

    Today, it was time to move the positions forward even further as I tried running 15 km. It went beyond expectation, even though I wondered what I had embarked on after a few kilometers. But after about 6 km, I realized that I had strength left and thought that, “Ah, I will make it.” It was a really wonderful feeling! I could even push away a bit more towards the end. In total, it took 1 hour and 26 minutes to run the 15 km, which gives a km time of 5.41. The last kilometer took 5.31, so I had energy left even towards the end.

    This time, too, I ran without tape. There will probably be no more mouth taping until it is time for the race, mainly because there are a lot of people where I am running. But there was, at least, no problem at all with the nasal breathing, neither during the jogging nor the cycling to and from the jogging track (I cycled 13 km in total today).

    It is common to experience an increased amount of saliva, mucus and leash when you start using nasal breathing. It was like that for me in the beginning too, but it disappeared pretty quickly. Today, I only had to blow my nose once during the whole round.

    Since the race on June 30 will be run on asphalt, I ran about 8 km of today’s race on asphalt. That is something that my body is basically not used to. I will have to see how my calves, that I have had a lot of problems with in the last year, will react.

    Sunday, June 10: Count the steps while running 10 km

    Then, it was time to run 10 km today. I took the bike to and from the jogging track. I cycled 10 km in total, which was a perfect warm-up and relaxation. After three kilometers of running, I had an average km time of 5.0 and figured that at this speed I would not be able to run 10 km today. After about one kilometer of internal fight, where one part of me wanted to run fast and another part of me wanted to run 10 km, reason won, and I lowered my speed a little to help me cope. In the end, the km time was 5.26, which I am very pleased with.

    The track I used today was crowded, so I chose not to tape my mouth. Since I am used to breathing through my nose, it was no problem to keep my mouth shut, and I could avoid strange glances :)

    In addition to that nasal breathing limits how fast I can run, I also count steps to know how tired or alert I am. For many years, I used a heart rate monitor to keep track of whether the workout was high or low intensive. I was actually happy when it broke a couple of years ago, as I thought it was controlling me too much. This also coincided with the fact that I had started using nasal breathing more and more when working out.

    If I am running slowly, I can take 3 steps on inhalation and about 5-6 steps on exhalation. If I maintain a speed that is just right for me, I take 3 steps on inhalation and 3 steps on exhalation. When I am about to get tired or when I run up a hill, I take 3 steps on inhalation and 2 steps on exhalation. The fewer steps on exhalation, the closer I am to having to use mouth breathing. It is an excellent indicator that I should slow down, and for me it seems much easier than using the heart rate watch, that I never really made friends with.

    I got this nice email today:
    I am feeling much better since I started breathing in and out through my nose and exercising daily with the Relaxator. There is no “must” but just a longing. My inner stress, which I have lived with for about 15 years, is gone, and my life is now filled with harmony and more energy. I long to go to bed, when I tape my mouth with surgical tape. I then rest confident that I will breathe through my nose and get my body healed.

    I want to thank you for having written an incredibly good book on how breathing affects our bodies. It is so informative and easy to read. I hope that many will read it and be motivated to start using Conscious Breathing. Everyone knows, after all, that breathing is vital, but the quality of breathing is, after all, crucial to our health. I have learned and experienced that now. THANK YOU! THANK YOU!

    Lovely view of Lake Mälaren during a part of my jogging round.

    Thursday, June 7: Silver tape on!

    Up early and out jogging already at 6:30. This time, I had duct tape (over-the-entire-face type) to try to see if it would stay in place better than surgical tape. Fortunately, I did not meet anyone at the track. Had I done so, I probably would have frightened them a lot. In any case, it worked really well, and my concern that it might hurt to remove the tape was, luckily, not confirmed. Perhaps, it came off easier because my skin was moist due to sweat.

    I noticed my legs were strong and could actually lower my time from yesterday. 5.17 minutes/km is now my personal record. After having run two days in a row and pushing myself somewhat, it will be very interesting to see how my body will react.

    I have also realized that if there is going to be a half marathon race in 3 weeks, I should as soon as possible start running longer distances and/or work out for longer periods to acclimate my body.

    I can imagine that this picture may cause many laughs, but that is fine with me :)

    Wednesday, June 6: First jogging round with taped mouth

    This morning, I ran 5 km with surgical tape over my mouth. The tape came loose a little, so the next time I will try some better stuff. In terms of time, I had no expectations, but my speed was, at least, 5.26 minutes/km. I also noticed that the timing, which I had not used for so long, automatically made me more competitive and motivated to keep the pace up to the finish.

    All in all, things went rather well, but it was still pretty tough anyway. So even though the idea of a half marathon race (or, hmmm, maybe 10 km will be enough :) ) has both survived and grown stronger, I will have to see what my body will tell me later on.

    Sunday, June 3: A new idea is born: running a half marathon race with taped mouth

    Coming up with new ideas is rarely a problem for me. On the contrary, there are always new exciting things popping up to the surface, and I need to screen them. What I have learned over the years is to wait and see if the idea will survive a few nights’ sleep before I start trying to make it happen.

    The idea of running a half marathon race with taped mouth was born today. I know it sounds a bit crazy, but at the same time I am serious about it. Breathing gets far too little focus when it comes to sports performances as well as our health in general, so it would be a way to get attention for the importance of breathing and that it, actually, works out excellent to breathe through your nose when jogging.

    I also have a special race in mind: Kustmaran 2012 (“The Coast Marathon Race 2012”). As it is already June 30, it is, however, a very short time left for preparations, especially considering that I have not jogged more than a maximum of 50 km in total last year. And then it has been pure “Sunday jogging.” It has been at least five years since I ran any longer distance:12 km on two occasions. I have never run anything longer than that. The usual distance has been 4-5 km.

    Nor have I kept time for many years. To get the attention I hope for, it would probably be an advantage if I would not end up last with a lousy time.
    While I like challenges, I no longer take them on at the expense of my body’s health. So I will have to see if the idea survives and grows stronger. If it does, the next step will be to see what my body will tell me.

    Saturday June 2: Bag carrier during the Stockholm Marathon

    Today, I was with Håkan Wester when he ran the Stockholm Marathon. I had the great honor of carrying his bag during the race, taking photos and filming. Håkan was on day 20 of the 28 days of the breath training. It is interesting that he did not even intend to run the race as his workout during March and April was minimal due to colds, sinusitis and influenza. Thanks to nasal breathing, he came back on the track and decided to participate despite having been able to run very few kilometers.

    Håkan made the 42 km in 5 hours, and thanks to nasal breathing (he managed to breathe through his nose for about 40 % of the time) he was alert and fresh when finishing the race compared to his previous races, when he had had to spend about 1 hour in a fetal position, unable to either eat or drink.

    Congratulations on a well-executed race, Håkan, and that you got to experience a quieter recovery than you have been used to!

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