Hold my breath for 3:00

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May 17/08: David Blaine 17:04

March 11, 2007

My goal was originally to hold my breath for 2:30, which I managed to do back in July, but last night, to my amazement, I pulled off 3:00. I was lying in bed with my heart rate monitor on because I was interested in figuring out what my resting heart rate was... and as it decended to 50 bpm, I thought to myself, that's quite a bit lower than the 80 bmp it was when I managed 2:30 in the summer time, and I've been training for a half marathon now for 2 months... I wonder what I'm capable of now? After a minute of breathup, I gulped in my last breath and tried to relax as much as possible. After a minute I could tell that I was doing really well. I was very relaxed and I had no sensation of needing more air. After two minutes I was still feeling quite good and figured I'd probably make at least 2:30 again. When 2:30 came around, I started to feel it quite a bit, but I wondered, maybe, just maybe, that I could reach 3:00. At 2:40 my diaphragm got pretty upset with me... the last 20 seconds was a real struggle as my breathing musculature started tensing up, urging me to inhale. But I made it all the way to 3:00, amazingly!

Time Trial 10: 3:00

Since I was wearing my heart rate monitor, which records your heart rate every 10 seconds, I was able to later see what my heart rate did during the breath hold:

This week I was reminded of seeing Tanya Streeter in an interview, hearing her talk about the sport of free diving. Tany's website, www.redefineyourlimits.com, has an excellent section on training. She lays out a very detailed picture of how these world class athletes train for their sport, which includes weight training in "apnea". (apnea means while holding your breath) Fascinating stuff. I've decided to add "Freedive to 100 feet" to my list of 99 things :)

July 5, 2006

Tonight Meredith and I were at a drive in theatre in PEI on our summer vacation. We got there about 40 minutes before the movies were to start, so we were sitting in the car killing time. Just for fun I got my heart rate monitor out to play with. After relaxing for a while to see how low I could get my heart rate (40% of my max heart rate) I thought I'd try holding my breath. Putting your car seat back turns out to be a pretty good way to relax yourself. I prepared by doing some breathing exercises and then inhaled fully.

It was 1:40 before I opened my eyes to check how long it had been and I was still feeling pretty good. When the 2:00 mark had come and gone, I realized I might be able to realize my goal, and Meredith encouraged me to keep going.

In the end, I surprised myself by making 2:31... I think I was just so psyched to actually reach the goal that the discomfort of holding my breath was minimal. I did it! And here I had given up on this one for the time being :)

Time Trial 8: 2:31

June 29, 2006

I'm no longer actively working on this goal. I need to get myself into good cardiovasular condition before it makes sense to. I'm going to start with general fitness -- from there, I'll work towards my goal of 100 pushups, and once I move on to some of my running goals like the marathon, I'll give this one another try. Just for fun, I'll see where I'm at right now... just got back from playing an hour and a half of frisbee...

Time Trial 7: 2:02

Hey! A new personal best! :)

May 13, 2006

Monday night I watched with anticipation as David Blaine attempted the impossible -- and failed. But I was spellbound... watching the 2 hour lead up to his attempt made me incredibly anxious. My lungs were tingling and I wasn't even the one who had to hold my breath!

As David Blaine neared the 7 minute mark and the pain started to read loud and clear on his face, it was difficult to watch. I felt so sorry for this guy who had spent two years training, 7 gruelling days under water, whose liver was failing, and hands and feet were falling apart. Given his bulkier body type, he would have been a hero to break the world record if he were to have entered the tank fully rested and healthy... why did he complicate the feat so much? (Handcuffed no less!)

I have to admit, after watching someone hold their breath for seven minutes, my goal of 2:30 seems pretty laughable -- but I'm not out to set a world record -- just to have fun and accomplish something that is not an easy feat.

It was fascinating to watch David Blaine's trainer work with him leading up to the attempt. The slow, controlled breathing exercizes, the gulping down of extra air just prior to starting, the "shutting down" of each part of his body (which admittedly sounds a bit hokus pokus). Neat stuff.

I've tried the gulping technique, but I find that the extra pressure it puts on the lungs is uncomfortable -- I'll have to work on that.

Time Trial 6: 1:33

May 4, 2006

Coincidence or what -- a couple of days ago I saw an add for David Blaine's next feat: Holding his breath under water for 9 minutes. Is he crazy?! Apparently the world record is currently 8:58. I had no idea that people were able to do that -- I thought brain damage started to kick in after five or six minutes...

I've started getting out for a jog more often as the spring weather is warming up nicely, but I'm not in any decent cardiovascular shape yet. That will be the key to me getting better at holding my breath, I think.

I just got back from a light jog 20 minutes ago, so it will be interesting to see if that has any noticeable affect. I expect my 1:45 time will stand as a best for a while...

Time Trial 5: 1:25

April 21, 2006

I've enjoyed the beautiful spring weather the last couple of nights, going for jogs at 11:00... I'm reminded that when I'm not in the habit of running, my poor calf muscles get pretty weak. So I've had the pleasure of a naggingly sore calf muscle today :)

Anyway, here we go...

Time Trial 4: 1:45

Coincidentally, one of the guests on the Ellen show yesterday was an underwater diver, Tanya Streeter, that can hold her breath for an amazing six minutes! I didn't know that was possible! Wow.

April 17, 2006

I'm reminded today that I haven't gotten any aerobic exercise yet... it's a beautiful spring night so I think I'll go for a jog.

Another one of my goals is to learn some new instruments, and by a neat coincidence I think that will also help with my lung capacity.

Well, time to see whether I'm still improving or not...

Time Trial 3: 1:32

A great improvement today... I think the key was just really relaxing the minute before starting, and not spilling air until I absolutely had to. It's tough towards the end as you feel your diaphram start to really tug, because you know that the muscular contractions are just using up even more of the oxygen you don't have.

April 14, 2006

I read a neat article today on holding your breath written by a police officer Charles Remsberg. He gives the following tips:

When you feel an uncomfortable tightness in your chest or a spasm in your lower diaphragm, spill out what you judge to be 1/4 of your air and then continue holding your breath (without having taken in any additional air). Charles suggests that this will improve your holding time by 50 to 100 percent.

If you focus on holding your breath, you're doomed to fail. Letting your mind wander and focusing on something else is where it's at.

With practice Mr. Remsberg has improved his holding times to just over two minutes.

My time for today:

Time Trial 2: 1:14

So no big improvements for me. I expect to see significant improvement I'll need to:

Get in good aerobic condition
Work on the "mind over body" aspect -- being able to override the body's reflex to contract the diaphragm
Learning to relax the body to minimize oxygen use

April 12, 2006

I'll need to research this one a little bit. Are there techniques for training? When I was about 15 I held my breath for around a minute and a half, but I expect I'd be under a minute these days.

Time Trial 1: 1:09

Better than I thought! I think I'll add to the rules that my nose must be plugged, because although I wasn't breathing in or out, it's hard to know whether any additional oxygen is getting in. (It certainly feels harder when your nose is plugged)