Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Buteyko in running and Accounts Payable focus in running your business

In High School I joined the track team to train as a long distance runner.  (Go Tigers!) As an asthmatic, I knew I wouldn't bring home any trophies.  But I knew it would be good for me to develop stronger breathing practice to avoid exercise-induced asthma.  The rewards led to an enduring hobby of running for mental and physical fitness.  Along the way I learned of the Buteyko breathing theory that helped me understand why I would get bronchial tightness when I would do sprints, but not long distance runs. (Konstantin Pavlovich Buteyko)

The theory is that bronchial constrictions are triggered when the lungs seek to restore the natural balance of carbon dioxide levels the blood stream after hyperventilation causes a spike of oxygen at the expense of carbon dioxide.  People who have exercise-induced asthma tend to "over breathe" worsening the imbalance and causing greater constriction.  While the impulse may be to try to take in more oxygen, it is easier to get to second wind by focusing on the breath out.  For you can only breathe in as much as you breathe out.  To control the body's panic reaction to the sprint, as it adapts to the sudden expenditure of energy, it's good to breathe regularly and if possible, slowly as you start your run.

Running a business over the past couple of years in the wake of the American debt crisis struck me as a similar metaphor to managing breathing in a long distance run, where similar strategies lead to going the distance without being winded at the initial sprint.

Entrepreneurs usually have to spend a significant amount in startup cost to get their ventures off the ground.  But as in running, starting out with the sprint without care for the expenditure can leave you dropping out of the race early.   By focusing only on the intake, you may spend too much time looking for funding for your new venture and not enough time on the execution.  By pacing your Accounts Payable carefully, like the runner's focus on the breath out, you can often get up to the speed of the sprint without leaving your company panting on the side of the track.  It's unpredictable for entrepreneurs how much you can take in.  But you can always control how much you spend.

(Buteyko method for managing asthma has been broadly touted and criticized.  Though I find the approach interesting for preventing hyperventilation in running, I'm not advocating for the other tenets of Buteyko practice.  You might want to consult a doctor before practicing Buteyko.  Similarly, you might want to consult an accountant before starting your small business.)

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