It was a good workout. I did a short set on the platform, 10 jumps at level 3, 10 step ups at level 4 and 10 step tries at level 5 (a step try is what happens when I can’t quite stand up with one leg, but I try). Then I did 2 miles running on the track, focusing on my breathing.

I used to think that I had exercise induced asthma. It was an excuse not to try hard in gym class, and an excuse for why I wasn’t athletically inclined, and, occasionally, an excuse to ride the elevator at school. But I haven’t used an inhaler for almost 5 years now, and the only times that I feel wheezy are when I’m around too much pet hair.

So when I first started running, I had an inhaler and I thought I needed it. But I read about how the throat can tighten up even when there is no asthma, from tension or stress or fear. So I focused on relaxing and breathing out fully and I learned how to run at slow paces, 10 to 12 minute miles being my comfort zone, and 1 mile in just over 8 minutes as my fastest. And then I stopped thinking about my breathing, as my ITB issues reared up and took over my attention.

The other day, when I forgot my music player and started to listen to myself breathe, I realized that my lack of speed was less about my muscles and more about my lungs. Whenever I sped up, I would tighten up and hyperventilate. I wouldn’t be getting enough air, and panic would tighten my chest and throat even more.

I had plateaued because I never finished learning how to breathe while exercising.

My first adventures in running started a process, whereby I figured out that it wasn’t asthma, but panic that I needed to get past. But I stopped too soon.

For the 2 miles I ran, I made myself breathe deeply. I became aware of how my chest shallows out my breath as I try to move faster. I told my throat to be open and relaxed. I listened to my favorite song to run with about 6 times (“Right on Time” by Skrillex – I feel like my form improves when I listen to it, and it makes me want to move). I did not go fast, but I feel like I’m making progress.

I did lunges with a 25 pound plate over my head to cool down, and finished up with some Bosu ball balancing before riding my bike home.

I was almost home. Maybe 3 blocks away. I turned left and saw 3 guys throwing 2 footballs and 1 car coming from the other direction. Silly me, I thought the guys would get off of the street with a car coming.


Instead, the one facing away from me took a few steps back as he cocked his arm and loosed his ball towards his friend, who was trying to warn him that there was a bike coming at him, but he didn’t pay attention. I couldn’t go around him to the left, because CAR, and as I tried to go to the right, he stepped into my path. I rang my bell, but he didn’t seem to hear it so I braked and tried to halt before hitting him, sounds coming out of my mouth that might have been words, and he turned around and jerked his waist back while leaning his upper body forward to catch my handlebars and aid my brakes in bringing me to a halt.

He said he was sorry, “I’m sorry, sorry.”

As I rode away, I said, “I tried to ring my bell, but you moved right where I was dodging you.”

My words sounded stupid and thick in my head. I’d almost hit someone, almost ran into them bodily with a bicycle, right where it would hurt the most.

Still. It was a good workout.

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