Over the years, I ran many park runs with my son, and I recently noticed that his breathing is often an indicator of his internal dialogue. When he feels confident, he breathes deeply through his nose or mouth during intense efforts. However, when he is defeated by his own inner voice, his breathing becomes shallow and he holds his breath for 2-3 seconds before exhaling with a tone of effort in every breath.
Today, during his 76th Park Run, he had a strong start, but his confidence gave in a couple of kilometers into the run when a younger kid overtook us and sped off. Despite my words of encouragement and reminders to change his breathing pattern (something we practiced), his negative self-talk persisted, and he believed he was running too hard. We had to stop and walk for a few meters for him to reset and breathe out the fear, feeling it was ok and for me to reassure him that it was just running.
Moving forward, as we plan to train together more often, I shall focus more on breathing techniques, as it seems to have a significant impact on his mindset, like mine.
I don't honestly care about my son sport performance, especially at this age. I just want to help him learning ways to let go of the inner critic when it gets too loud, so he can continue to enjoy running without pressure or expectations.
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