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The Trudge

If you’ve been following my blog you’ll have already read my piece on Hit Refresh! I wrote Hit Refresh! for people that have been able to expand their awareness of their situation, make good decisions and condition their minds to want to take action. The bottom line is that they have the fitness and the skills to get the job done. I’ll be posting more stories about athletes who have applied it to their own efforts on an ongoing basis.

Today I’m writing about the Trudge for people that have used the HiLevel Breathing techniques to overcome frustration, anger or physical pain and discomfort. It can be an important part of your decision to Hit Refresh! and take the next step in your process.

The bottom line is that at times we are not able to be settled and feel calm, clear and confident in our ability to get the job done.

You’re familiar with the word “trudge” (rhymes with “fudge”). It’s a way we sometimes walk (usually away from something) that communicates a feeling of exhaustion as well as a low sense of self, of being, perhaps, a loser. 

HiLevel defines “the Trudge” as any negative emotion that occurs during competition, travel, or life in general. And “the Calm” is defined as feeling settled, clear and confident in your ability to perform under pressure.

The Trudge

Travel, especially to foreign countries with multiple flights, connections, longs lines, the possibility of missed flights, lost luggage and jet lag, offers multiple situations to experience the Trudge.

Competition, whether it’s a 10K road race, a four- to six-hour paddle, a triathlon, marathon or Ironman, will provide the Trudge in the form of fatigue, muscles soreness, severe pain, dehydration and exhaustion. 

Life, during the course of any given day, comes with a series of obstacles that can be defined as the Trudge, whether it’s relationships, accidents, natural disasters and or the simple stuff that just happens.


To breathe into the Trudge and reach the Calm, inhale though your nose and fill your diaphragm from the top of your chest to your abdomen. Pause. Make your mouth as round and small as possible. Use your core muscles, reverse the action and forcefully expel the entire breath through your mouth. Repeat the action as needed.

Be sure to get a full breath in and exhale completely. 

Performance Breathing

Performance Breathing in this manner can help with preparation, execution and completion. It includes four essential phases: (1) settle down, (2) be aware, (3) prepare and (4) execute.

Settle Down

The ability to inhale and forcefully exhale (make the taaaa sound) to let go of the Trudge and restore a sense of calmness and clarity. With practice, two or three forceful exhales should do the job.

Be Aware

The ability to use slow, deliberate, calming breaths to restore your present moment awareness. To be mindful and connect with the reality of your situation and be clear of what you want to accomplish.


The ability to use gentle and relaxed breaths to evaluate, reflect and visualize the results you want to produce. To focus on seeing yourself being alert, ready and performing in the best possible way.


The ability to use a shortened (30% to 40%) inhale and an explosive exhale to perform with power and accuracy. To use your breath and core to create a burst of energy as you complete the movement.

These four styles of Performance Breathing should be mastered. For best results they need to be available as automatic responses to moments of the Trudge.