We don’t have to think about it, it happens as naturally as your eyelids blinking.
But why do we have to learn to breathe if we want to be a good runner?
And when I say good, I actually mean someone who feels good while running.
Being able to breathe comfortably while running is a common complaint.
It’s also something I have noticed with my beginners’ group. When we first start to run our breath seems laboured, but by the end of the session they are relaxed.
A strong respiratory system can improve your running. It’s a simple equation: Better breathing equals more oxygen for your muscles, and that equals more endurance.
Just as we train our legs, we must also train our lungs.
In this post I’m going to give you some tips on how to get your breathing sorted while running.
Breathe from your belly
Deep breathing fills the lungs and naturally improves posture as the lungs expand. Breathing deeply while running reduces the stress on the supporting ligaments of the diaphragm and can help relieve side stitches.
Lie on the floor, placing a hand on your belly and breathe deeply. If you feel your hand rise and fall slightly with your breathing, you are belly breathing.
If your chest moves up and down rather than your belly, you are not breathing deep enough.
Focus on your hand and try making it rise and fall. To make sure you continue breathing deeply during your run, periodically take a very deep breath and forcefully exhale, pushing all the air out of your lungs.
With the exhalation, drop your shoulders, shake out your arms, and relax them. Then, take a deep breath and continue your run.
Take longer breaths
This will help ensure that you are getting enough oxygen to your body, and is the best way to prevent muscle and lung fatigue.
It also helps increase endurance by getting proper oxygen circulation to your muscles.
Keep your mouth open
Your mouth is wider than your nostrils, allowing you to take deeper breaths of air.
Allow air to enter through both your mouth and your nose.
Find a breathing pattern
Try co-ordinating your breath with your footsteps.
For example, breathe in every other time you take a step with your left foot, and breathe out every other time you take a step with your right foot.
This will help you breathe more consistently throughout your run.
Use the “talk test” to determine if you are breathing enough
You should be able to form full sentences while running without huffing and puffing.
This is especially important in new runners as you need to build up your aerobic fitness before thinking about going faster.
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, if you have continued breathing difficulties while running, or experience shortness of breath, wheezing or other symptoms that make breathing uncomfortable please see your GP.