I was especially interested in what we learned this week about the respiratory system in lecture and lab. I found the breath holding theory implying control of breath via the diaphragm especially enlightening – and relevant to an issue I have been having in my workouts.
Over the past few years, since I have really started running regularly while simultaneously studying & practicing singing, I have noticed a strange correlation between my performance in one area and my performance in the other. On days I have great runs, I struggle in my voice class and on days where I have great supporting breath for singing, I can’t seem to hit my aerobic rhythm if I run the same day. I have been investigating this for sometime and expressed my curiosity as to why this happens to coaches and my voice professors – no one really could tell me why.
I had assumed that it had to do with the fact that each activity requires a different type of breath to sustain it. When I sing, it is critical that I fill up my lungs from my diaphragm and I control the output of air with the diaphragm’s muscles. Good singing for me comes down to weather or not I am breathing in the right places so I have enough oxygen to animate a piece of music. Running is almost the exact opposite. When I run well I hit a groove of a stable heart rate, momentum, and breath pattern. My breaths tend to be moderate to shallow, in time with my strides and workout music.
Prior to last week, I suspected that the cause of my difficulty in transitioning from one activity to the other was based in a neurological and conscious mechanism – that is that I just had trouble changing my mindset, and so my breathing was off. However, after learning about the very important role of the diaphragm in regulating breath, I wonder if the cause is actually due to the muscle memory of my diaphragm. Maybe it is that I just haven’t practiced enough controlling my diaphragm.
I am going to try doing specific breathing exercises as a warm up to both practices – especially on days where I double up singing and running. Before a run I am going to try to take a lot of shallow, rhythmic breaths to prime my diaphragm for better performance. Likewise, before a rehearsal I am going to practice my deep and supported breathing. Hopefully this will allow me to not only excel in one at a time, but reach a balance where I can do both well!