Although the vast majority of surfers will never suffer a two- to three-wave hold down or stare down a 20-footer, we’ve all felt a sense of panic as we scramble to the surface. Needless to say, we could all benefit from learning to hold our breath longer. To keep your lungs inflated, we talked to Mark Healey, a man who credits his lung capacity to saving his life on more than one occasion.
“Before you start to train, keep in mind that you’ll always hold your breath longer if you’re not being timed. That’s how much of it is purely mental.”
“For me, I’ll either go for a run or get on a stationary bike and get to a pace where my heart’s going and I’m getting a workout and then start my Breath Hold Tables. Basically, I’ll hold my breath for 30 seconds, breathe for 1 minute, and then hold my breath for 30 seconds, and then breathe for 1 minute. I repeat that for half and hour.”
“I pass out holding my breath all the time. When you’re training, you want to make sure you’re in a safe, controlled environment. You don’t want to black out, fall down, and get hurt.”
“The rules for holding your breath while you’re freediving are the polar opposite to holding your breath while you’re taking a beating. In diving, you want to relax and get calm. In surfing, if you’re taking a beating, you’re already stressed and expending a lot of energy.”
“You need to go to your happy spot to calm yourself when you’re getting worked. That helps.”
“You can start to get better at holding your breath within a single day.”
“My best static breath hold is pretty crap. I think it’s about 5:30.”
“I’ve definitely felt the benefit of all the practice. Had I not trained to hold my breath longer, it could have gone the other way with me a whole lot of times.”
*When you’re practicing holding your breath, please do it in a safe, controlled environment under professional supervision. Or better yet, take a freediving class.