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Running in High Heat and Humidity- Part 2- Benefits of Proper Breathing Techniques

Breathing delivers oxygen and expels carbon dioxide. The oxygen is very important, especially when running in high heat and humidity, it helps create energy, and any kind of restriction in that delivery of oxygen can cause some performance and physical issues.

If we are breathing too shallowly or quickly, our body feels tension. Stress hormones are released, and less energy is available to fuel our run. When running in high heat and humidity, our breathing pattern is challenging. Also if the weather is very hot and we don’t have access to some fresh air or wind, our lack of oxygen will cause some intense side effects, we will feel much weaker, maybe even some dizziness.

If we are breathing slowly and deeply, providing sufficient oxygen, our body naturally relaxes, reduces blood pressure and balances the system. On the other hand, if we are running at a faster pace or performing some speedwork, we need to breathe faster, and usually while running fast we inhale and exhale through the mouth.

How to Breathe While Running

  • Our breath is super important during a run.

  • Our body is managing plenty of processes all at the same time.

  • It needs oxygen in order to operate at peak performance, but also support our main energy level. To take incredibly long, slow deep breaths while running is very challenging. Our body needs oxygen more quickly.

  • The more we practice good deep breathing techniques while not running, the better our body will get enough proper oxygen.

  • The more we practice, the better our lungs will get used to finding the balance, bringing in the most oxygen it can at a good steady rate.

Pre-Run Breathing Techniques

Before we try to train our breathing while running, first we should start by practicing some deep breathing techniques at home.

1. Deep Versus Shallow Breathing

Deep breathing is taking long, deep belly breaths.

Shallow breathing is shorter and sharper breaths, our chest will pump up and down more wildly. Shallow breathing uses more energy, delivers less oxygen, and is associated with states of higher anxiety.

2. Deep Breath Training

Don’t just rely on your chest for breathing Many runners only perform chest breathing, meaning that they only use their upper torso for breathing, instead you should get your entire diaphragm involved in the process. Setting the stage for deeper and highly oxygenated inhales, and removing the highest amounts of carbon dioxide while exhaling.

How to Perform the Breathing Technique

These deep breaths are referred to as diaphragmatic breathing, or belly breathing. They will allow us to breathe more deeply while we run.

This breathing technique can feel a bit funny if you’ve never tried it before. Try practicing it while lying on your back, it’s a good way to really feel your diaphragm move as you breathe. Also, performing nice deep breath before bed time can really improve our sleep pattern.

Practice Deep Breathing Pre-Run and Post-Run

If we can have our body energized and relaxed at the same time, it will provide the perfect balance to have a better run in the intense heat.

1. Start by standing with your feet hip-width apart and taking in a long, slow, deep breath.

2. Arms bent open the chest and let the air fill your upper chest, mid chest, and then lower chest.

3. Pause for a moment.

4. Exhale, slowly, surely, pressing out all those toxins

5. Pause

6. Repeat

Performing the same type of deep breathing post-run also provides many benefits for recovery.

Breathing Technique Tips

1. Breath In Through the Nose and Out Through the Mouth

When we have to run in high heat and humidity, especially for a few months, we need to start practicing inhaling through our nose. We need to breathe powerfully so that we get enough oxygen into the body. We need to breathe deeply so we can almost feel the air going into our stomach, but not so deeply that we feel faint. This is called using the diaphragm. It’s okay to exhale through the mouth.

Breathing in through the nose helps us breath more deeply and effectively and not the rapid shallow breathing that can so often happen from breathing with an open mouth, It also helps to humidify the air, stopping us from getting a dry mouth and more dehydration.

The mouth and quick breathes, we can do while training for shorter distances and fast runs. Deep nose inhalation and mouth exhalation can be very challenging during fast runs.

When trail running especially with some elevation during the hot summer season, we need to focus on taking some good deep breaths, inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth, focusing on a good rhythm. We need to perform these good deep breathes before we start feeling more sluggish, so we need to figure out a good timing plan according to the heat, humidity, elevation, and our body. Taking these good deep breathes going up hills can protect and prevent some heart issues.


Good Breathing Techniques, Good Oxygenation, Great Runs!


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