Goal sighting is a critical tool that I relied heavily on in the beginning of my running career. I would pick mailboxes or cracks in the pavement ahead of me that I would run to. After I reached those goal-points, I would walk for a little to calm my heart rate and breathing back down. Over time, I was able to make my goals longer and longer and this boosted my overall confidence and morale when running.
In between goals, I would keep my head down and try to focus on my breathing. I tried to concentrate on breathing rhythmically and deeply. Doing these breathing exercises early-on were important, because it laid the ground work for more intensive runs in the future. Additionally, keeping my head down helped me worry less about what people in my neighborhood thought. Caring less about others' thoughts/comments and worrying more about my progress was another leap forward in my training and confidence. This lesson carried over to when I started racing. I made sure that I should care less about other races and more about the pacing I trained for; which, helped insure that I would finish the race each time. And, I had to make sure I went my own pace because of my asthma. If I took off too fast out of the gate, or did not listen to my body when trying to pass people, I would definitely have struggled to finish the race.
Because I have asthma, I had to spend a lot of time dialing in my breathing, positioning of body, and my medicines. With my training in choral singing, I had the foundation laid for breathing deeply, filling up my chest cavity, and controlling my exhale. There was a noticeable difference when I focused on breathing versus leisurely running. In order to breathe deeply, I also had to train myself to run upright and my chest open. It seemed rather common sense, but again, a big difference when I had positive posture for running.
Over time, I began to reap the benefits of running. I noticed I was not winded at the top of stairs, I was losing weight, and I began to feel much happier. One of the key benefits, was a drastic improvement on my breathing and a severe decrease in asthma related symptoms. By the time I reached college, I was able to go off of preventative medicines that I had been on since I was born. I remained off of my preventative meds for nearly seven years.
From my perspective, running increased my VO2 max , decreased my resting heart rate , and increased my heart's efficiency at pumping blood throughout my body. I'm sure it also help decrease my likelihood for heart disease given my extremely unhealthy diet during my middle school to high school years. Running also helped me become more tuned-in to my body's needs.
Stay tuned for more to come on the learning curve of running outside.
 VO2 max is the maximum rate at which a body can consume oxygen. This is a measurement commonly referred to as a tool that can provide an indication of fitness level (Clemente, C. J., P. C. Withers, and G. G. Thompson. 2009, as cited by Wikipedia July 2014).
 Resting heart rate refers to the measurement of heart beats within a minute taken when the body is at rest.