Coaching, Disability, Training

Deep Breaths and Baby Steps

When we train, we do a lot of base training – training at a pace slow enough for Trevor to be able to engage in conversation with me. Aside from turning training into date-time, this builds up his cardio and his endurance over weeks and months, and we’ve seen quite significant improvements using this technique.

Since I can’t see Trevor running, I use my ears to listen to the rhythm and cadence of his footfalls, and to listen to his breath to help him dial back or pick up the pace accordingly.

And when we get to the hills, we have a little mantra, “deep breaths and baby steps”.

Because you can’t rush a hill. Your muscles need lots of energy to get up to the top, and that energy comes from the oxygen you get from slow deep breaths.

Because hills can feel too overwhelming – they can leave us panicking and taking shallow breaths, which leave us short of oxygen.

Because although hills don’t go on forever, we have some pretty steep hills around here, and we can’t tackle them by merely gritting our teeth and trying harder. We have to take it one baby step at a time if we want to reach the top and be able to carry on with our run.


Last week my mom had to fly out to the west coast to see her mother. My grandmother is 94 years old, and, in the last four months has gone from ‘slowing down’ yet independent to ‘struggling with the everyday tasks of life’.

My mom and I talked before she left about the various things that she needed to do in the one week she would be out there – lawyers visits, bank visits, doctor’s visits and somehow convincing her incredibly independent mother that she needed some care. And I told her about our mantra, “deep breaths and baby steps” – told her “that’s how you’re going to get through this.”

You can’t rush a 94-year-old through the process of giving up her independence – even if it’s well and truly time.

You can’t help a 94-year-old if you’re anxious and worried – you need to stay grounded, and deep breaths will help you to do that.

You may not be able to solve all of the issues with just one week available, but each and every baby step you take forward will make it easier to do the next one, and the next one, and the next one.


What hills are you climbing this week?

What’s leaving you feeling anxious or worried?

What ‘marathon’ are you in the midst of right now?

Maybe its parenting or another long-term relationship, a big project at work, or a physical goal you are trying to reach.

Maybe it’s dealing with a loss or saving up for a goal, getting through school or preparing for a special celebration.

How can you use “deep breaths and baby steps” to help you get through?

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