Julia Armstrong, is a former international marathon runner who ranks in the top 10 in the UK for V50 women runners. She’s a broadcaster, writer and runner. This month she ponders the power of breathing – and our voices
Running can be a meditation on the move, and this can only be achieved if you are fully connected to your breath. By connecting with your breath you will go deeper into yourself and get in touch with the centre of the body, allowing you to truly run from your heart. Through a more meditative approach it becomes possible to open up and to allow the vibration that is you onto the running track and out on the roads and the trails, and of course to run faster and further than you ever dreamed possible!
With this in mind, I recently travelled to meet Stewart Pearce, a voice coach and sound healer, and the author of The Alchemy Of Voice. Stewart had worked with the Olympic Committee when they were bidding for the 2012 games, by helping the spokespeople connect fully with what they were saying.
His work is also about connecting us to our breath, and with it to our own unique sound, our signature note. This is as individual as someone’s running action. I can recognise someone a long way off before I can see who they are by the way they run, and similarly we all have a sound that is uniquely ours and connects us to our true selves.
To establish your signature note, Stewart says you must start with the breath, particularly with the exhalation, as this is where the rhythm is established.
Then the sound comes as a natural next step, in the same way that if you are on top of your breath then you are in your rhythm and able to relax, and with relaxation comes your best running. Runners everywhere would benefit from connecting to their breath, their sound, their unique signature note and allowing this vibration to express in each step of the run.
And that way you’ll run from the core, from the heart. It doesn’t matter how fast someone runs, but when I see a person running with heart I cannot fail to be moved. A runner, like Gebrselassie, who is all heart inspires with every step he runs.
Running transforms lives. People start running and find themselves in ways they never knew possible. Run from your heart and speak from your heart, so that what you express on the outside, how you move and what you say, matches what takes place on the inside – and you are likely to find that you have the power to heal yourself and others, and that alchemy is a real experience with every step you take and every word you utter.