Learn to Breath Properly While Running

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One of the more important aspects of running is the proper way of breathing. Running is not just about the legs and thighs and feet. It is also about the lungs and how to bring greater amounts of oxygen into the system efficiently.  If we don’t breath properly, we deprive our body of the required oxygen to run than can cause us to overcompensate, and breath too fast. which can cause side stitches.

Many beginning runners ask me what is the proper way to breath.  My response is to “be natural.”  It is funny that we have been breathing most of our lives and for the most part are pretty good at it, but when we start to pay attention to it, it becomes unnatural.  Case in point, as I write this article, I’m starting to really pay attention to my breathing, which is causing me to hold my breath!

Let your Body Warm Up

Catching BreathWhen I start a run I find that the first half mile

are is the hardest.  I think this is because my body is still warming up and getting over the first shocks of starting to exercise.  Once my heart rate has leveled off, I find my breathing will start to slow and fall into a rhythm.
What is interesting is that during the fist half mile, my pace is actually increasing, but it feel like it is getting easier even though I’m running faster.  I’ll usually start off thirty seconds slower than my target and ramp up.

By the time I’ve hit my first mile, I’m at my pace for the overall run and, as I like to say it, “in the zone.”

What I really trying to say, is that don’t expect to have perfect breathing in first part of your run.  Warm up, your body needs time to adjust.  I find that I’m really paying attention to my breathing and If I’m breathing too hard, then I back off a bit.  As my body catches up, and warms up, breathing and heart rate fall into place, I’m at my target pace, and ready to get into a rhythm.

Breathing rhythms

Since most of my running is for long distance races, I’m usually running easy or long runs runs with distance varying between six to sixteen miles.  During these run, I try to maintain a constant pace over the entire length of the run.  Though the last miles of a long run are though, once I get past the warm up stage, I can usually fall into a rhythm that is easy to maintain.

For me my breathing rhythm is based on my running cadence.

Breathing Rhythm – three in, two out.Breath Properly While Running

On my long and easy runs I find that I breath in for two steps, and breath our for two.  It goes like this:

  1. Step – Beath In
  2. Step – Breath In
  3. Step – Breath In
  4. Step  – Breath Out (puff)
  5. Step  – Breath Out (puff)
As I breath out, it feels as if my strides are pushing the air out, I don’t need to work at it.
Do I count?  Nope, I just find that I fall into this rhythm and it is very natural.  To be honest, if I had to count my breathing for a three hour run I would go crazy!  I do notice that when I run faster my rhythm does change.

Breathing Rhythm – two in, one out

When I have to work really hard at running, like the last hard mile, or when I’m doing sprints or intervals, I notice that my inhaling doesn’t change, but I do breath out faster.  It looks like this:
  1. Step – Beath In
  2. Step – Breath In
  3. Step  – Breath Out (forced)
I tend to force the air out in the third step, which allow me to pull in air in a step earlier.

Deep breathing

One other technique that can be used when running is deep breathing. It has several benefits when correctly done and practiced.  It helps the runner to stay relaxed, which in turn, helps to decrease fatigue. The ability to relax decreases the chances of performance decline.

Runners who forgot to relax find themselves making inadvertent changes in form until they feel the resulting pain. Examples include clinching of fists too tightly and running with the shoulders too high to be effective. This type of poor form often results in muscle fatigue and soreness.

Deep breathing helps promote relaxation while running. This is done by taking a larger-than-normal breath and exhaling all the way out.

During the exhale part, you should concentrate on releasing all the tension in your arms by shaking them, opening up your hands and moving your head in circles.

This combination of activities will give you an easy way to remain relaxed during the run and does not even need to break stride to do all of them. This is true to all the other breathing techniques in running – no requirement of great efforts but just as effective.

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