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12509561_1703463773224349_1411320878446439571_nTriathlon Training and Yoga- Learning to Breathe –

The Benefits of Yoga from a Tri-Athlete’s Perspective

By Kristie Klein Zimmermann
July 2014

I’ve been active and attentive to my health and fitness from an early age. Thanks to my parents for enrolling me in gymnastics at the age of seven. I was competing a few short years after my first spin on the uneven bars.
In my early teens I discovered how food and water were fuel for my body. I was then armed with both a nourished and an active body. In my early twenties I was introduced to weight lifting and resistance training. I knew I needed to share with others. I became a certified fitness coach and began teaching people how to be active and properly nourished while appreciating their bodies.
I laced up my first pair of running shoes around that same time. I was hooked after my first ½ marathon.
By my late twenties I purchased my first road bike, adding cycling to my list of fun movement activities.

Fast-forward to my mid-thirties when I found yoga.
I began practicing yoga 16 months ago. That is when I found the Epic community and discovered that yoga was going to enhance my life.
I immediately submitted my application for the teacher training program. I wanted to learn more about yoga and share this amazing practice with as many people as I could touch in my lifetime.
During the teacher training program I learned how to apply to my everyday life, the postures, journaling, and meditation practices. And finally, at the age of 36, I learned to BREATHE.

It was through this training process that I discovered I had the ability, drive, determination and now the confidence to complete an endurance event. I signed up for a ½ Ironman competition.
In addition to my daily yoga practice, meditation, and journaling I put in the time practicing all three triathlon disciplines every week. Running, swimming, and cycling filled my days. And then it was time for the practice event, and MY FIRST TRIATHON. I registered and committed to completing an Olympic distance triathlon in preparation for the ½ Ironman.

The day of the race I was filled with excitement and almost overwhelmed with nerves. After much waiting and anticipation for this day, this event, this moment, it was my turn.
I jumped into the water and when I surfaced I was breathless…

Perhaps the shock of the chilled water, or maybe it was the adrenaline from the intense excitement and nerves or maybe a combination of both, I wasn’t sure.
I began a self-talk, knowing that I was prepared for this event. I had physically trained my body for this day, so what was happening?
It was in that moment of thought that I became present and clear. I knew what I needed to do.
BREATHE.

I began a gentle breast stroke to move my body through the water as I engaged my breath from one slow, intentional breath in followed by one controlled breath out then to another slow, intentional breath in followed by a controlled breath out.
In seconds I found my VICTORIOUS breath along with my way into the freestyle stroke I had been practicing. I went on to complete the task ahead of me, swimming the river. I continued on to the bike portion of the competition and finished strong with the final discipline, the run.
My breath stayed with me as I completed the entire triathlon with mental steadiness, physical control and a smile on my face!

The physical training along with the skills and techniques practiced and learned throughout my life allowed me to complete each discipline of my first triathlon.
The time that I have spent in both still and moving mediation, proved to help me find presence, self -awareness and control during my first triathlon.
Learning to breathe was the reason for my success and joy in completing my first triathlon!

I’m looking forward to BREATHING through my upcoming ½ Ironman competition this year and then onto the many ultra-endurance events to follow.