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Benefits of Good Breathing Techniques For Runners

There are some common breathing techniques for running:

  • Focus on breathing in through the nose, and out through the mouth

  • Think about blowing air out similar through a straw

  • It’s ok to breathe in some through your mouth

  • Remember to keep your shoulders back and stand tall to have space in your lungs to breathe

  • Try to calm your breathing (deep belly breathing)

  • Focus good exhalation

We should remember that the intensity of our run is going to influence how quickly we’re breathing. We will increase the amount of mouth breathing over nasal breathing as our effort level increases.

On easy runs where we have a steady pace is the best time to practice breathing. To feel how our energy changes or how we feel by testing out different techniques, breathing patterns, etc.

If we start to feel a shortness of breath while testing things out, that’s often because we’re now overthinking how to breathe. We should stop running for a minute, change our focus and then start the run again just letting ourself breathe naturally.

Tips and Techniques to Learn How to Breathe Properly While Running

1. Breathe In Through Nose, Out Through Mouth

The first step is to breathe in through our nose and out through our mouth as though blowing through a straw. This keeps the flow slow and steady.

It prevents us from taking big gulps of air through our mouth which leads to over-breathing and sometimes hyperventilation.

Not only is it a relaxing way of breathing, but it also ensures that we breathe a little bit slower, and this prevents us from over breathing.

BONUS TIP: Occasionally, we may need to do a forceful quick exhale to just push all the carbon dioxide out that often builds up when we aren’t breathing well. It is a good little reset to get back to our easy rhythmic breathing.

2. Ensure Calm, Even Breathing

For those who have tried meditation, we can use what we learn in our practice by keeping a slow and easy breathing pattern, we should try to focus on our breathing rhythms.

Diaphragmatic breathing is a big focus here. Diaphragmatic breathing, often known as belly breathing, is a technique for increasing our oxygen intake when running.

It works by using our diaphragm to expand our chest cavity and allow our lungs to properly expand to take in more oxygen.

Deep belly breathing promotes the flow of oxygen-rich blood to our muscles, keeping us from becoming fatigued.

While breathing this way, we don’t want to see our chest rising and falling, as much as we want to see our abdomen rising and falling.

That means we’re not shallow chest breathing, but instead deep breathing to get more oxygen to the muscles. That’s going to prevent side stitches and cramps.

3. Try Rhythmic Breathing While Running

When we are running, a significant amount of tension is absorbed by our body whenever our exhalations coincide with our foot strikes. Running with a rhythmic breath helps to equally transfer stress over both sides of our body.

This technique involves matching our inhalations and exhales to the cadence of our feet, so that our exhales alternate between right and left foot strikes.

When running, the normal rhythm of a runner’s breath is to inhale for two foot strikes and then exhale for two foot strikes.

However, this results in exhalations will constantly be on the same side of our body, putting undue pressure on our body and potentially increasing our risk of injury. Science showed there is more force in our stride during the exhale.

If we breathe rhythmically in an odd ratio, such as inhaling for two strides and exhaling for one, or inhaling for three strides and exhaling for two, each exhalation will correspond with an alternating right or left foot strike.

This can boost our endurance while lowering our chance of injury.

This technique of rhythmic breathing is also known as cadence breathing because it describes the number of steps we take on inhale and on exhale.

While it does take some practice and concentration at first, it can make breathing easier for runners who struggle with this and of course make us faster by delivering more oxygen.

  • Breathe in for 3 steps.

  • Breathe out for 2 steps.

  • Inhale and exhale based on your foot strikes.

  • You’ll be alternating on which foot you exhale.

4. Do Chest Stretches Before Running

Now that we’ve covered the basic techniques of how to breathe while running, there are two other things we should do.

We’re doing all these breathing techniques to make sure we breathe right, but it’s also important to make sure our chest muscles aren’t the problem that’s stopping us from opening up our lungs.

Most of us tend to sit all day on the computer hunched over which then tightens everything up. So before we start running, we want to make sure we have good, open breathing.

Before we start running, we can find a wall and try some chest stretches. This will stretch our chest muscles allowing us to breathe with more ease while running.

5. Spend Some More Time On Your Warm Ups

As runners we should know how important Dynamic warm-ups are for preventing injuries and ensuring good running form. But alternating it a bit can help us breathe even better. This is especially important if we frequently have trouble breathing while running.

A good option is to do a normal walk, then maybe run for three to five minutes then walk again for a few more minutes before starting our full run.

This works great for loosening everything up and for getting those lungs open and ready for our runs.

Tips for Managing Your Breathing While Running

  • Start the run without a focus on breathe. Let your body get in to a natural rhythm.

  • Distract yourself with music if necessary to stop thinking about your breathing (this is often the best way to find a rhythm!)

  • Don’t spend the entire run focused on it. Just as you check in with your form, check in with your breathing.

  • Do breathing exercises when not running to increase your lung capacity. You could cross-train with swimming, cycling, weight training or Yoga.

Better breathing means getting more oxygen flowing to our muscles as the workload increases.

What happens when we don’t breathe well:

  • Muscles lacking oxygen become tight.

  • The heart is unable to pump as efficiently.

  • The nervous system feels frazzled.

  • Our brain slows down.

  • The body’s ability to produce energy is decreased.

Rhythmic Breathing Technique

1. For Easy Runs At Low Intensity- 3:3. Inhale for 3 steps and exhale for 3 steps.

2. For Steady Pace Runs, Easy or Moderate Effort or Long-Distance Runs- 3:2 breathing pattern. Inhale for 3 steps and exhale for 2 steps.

3. For Medium-Intensity Runs- 2:2. Inhale for 2 steps and exhale for 2 steps.

4. For faster Pace Run, Speedwork, Or Uphill Running- 2:1 breathing pattern. Inhale for 2 steps and exhale for 1 step.

5. For Intense Runs or Races When You Are Not Able To Talk And Have To Breathe Fast- 2:1:1:1 breathing pattern. Inhale for 2 steps, exhale for 1 step, inhale for 1 step, exhale for 1 step and repeat.

6. For Maximum And High-Intensity Runs- 1:1. Inhale for 1 step and exhale for 1 step, (the final burst at the end of a race).

Practice Some Good Breathing Exercises, Improve And Focus On Good Breathing Rhythm When Running, Enjoy Great Runs And Feel better!


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