ExecutiveChronicles | The Latest Tips That Will Help You Breathe Better While Running | More than 50 million Americans participate in running or jogging! It’s the most popular sport in the country. If you’ve ever gone for a run, you know exactly why that is.
It’s a wonderful way to connect with your surroundings, tap into those endorphins, and burn a lot of calories. In addition, all you need is a pair of shoes. Running is incredibly freeing and easy to start.
However, if you’re a runner, you know that not every run is magic. Lots of runs are grueling and have you struggling for breath the whole time. Learning how to breathe better is the key to pushing past these difficult runs and finding the magic again.
In this article, we’ll be discussing all the tips and exercises you need in order to improve your breathing while running. Read on to learn how to do it!
You might think that breathing is second nature, and you don’t have to learn how to do it. After all, it’s the first thing you’re able to do on your own and you can do it with your eyes closed!
However, many people breathe incorrectly within the context of running. Most runners breathe through their chest, which doesn’t maximize your oxygen flow. Instead, you should use a technique called diaphragmatic breathing, or belly breathing.
Belly breathing engages your diaphragm, the muscle under your lungs. Expanding your diaphragm allows your lungs to inflate more fully and increasing your oxygen intake. Using your whole lungs increases your blood oxygen levels, making it easier to exert yourself.
As an added bonus, becoming a belly breather can help reduce anxiety and improve focus!
Practice your belly breathing by lying on the floor. Rest one hand on your stomach and one on your chest. Practice breathing into your stomach and then into your lungs, so your bottom hand should rise first, followed by the hand on your chest.
In addition to having you feel better, belly breathing will optimize your oxygen intake, increasing your VO2 max. While it might feel unnatural at first, try exhaling deeply (and completely) while you run. This will force your body to inhale deeply, thereby increasing your VO2 max further.
Breathe in Time With Your Cadence
Most runners have a natural breathing pattern that matches their cadence. The most common breathing pattern is 2:2, meaning that the runner breathes in every two steps and breathes out every two steps. However, a regular breathing pattern like this means you’re always exhaling on the same foot.
Some studies suggest that this is one of the reasons that runners often get injuries to the same side of their body – their exhalation pattern is unbalanced!
The greatest impact in running occurs as soon as the exhalation begins. If you’re always exhaling on the same side, that side is taking significantly more impact than the other.
Take note of this next time you run. Do you always start your exhale on the same side? And likewise, is that side often tighter and more prone to injury?
If so, it’s time to change it up!
To correct this, change your 2:2 pattern to a 2:1 breathing pattern. This means you inhale every two steps and then exhale for one step. This will eliminate unbalanced breathing and movement patterns, which should make you feel better while you run.
You can mess with the numbers here to find the right pattern for yourself. These are general figures and your personal cadence may vary. However, try to make sure that you’re exhaling on alternate feet.
It’s probably happened to you. You start a run feeling good when all of a sudden you experience a stabbing pain in your side. Side stitches are incredibly common among runners!
The most common reason for stitches is a lack of a proper warm-up. Remember, when you run it’s not just your legs that are getting a workout, it’s your lungs too. Priming and taking care of your respiratory system is essential for both achieving optimal health and athletic performance.
The human respiratory system is a muscle that needs time to get ready to work hard. Before you take off down the pavement, warm up your diaphragm with your belly breathing technique. Then, build up your pace to give your lungs time to adjust.
Nose Breathing vs Mouth Breathing
While most people breathe through the nose during daily life, this is actually an ineffective way to get air while you’re running! If you’re not convinced, try running with your mouth closed. You’ll end up short of breath much sooner than you would if you were breathing through your mouth.
Your mouth is designed to maximize oxygen intake, so take advantage of it! Some coaches suggest breathing through your nose and mouth at the same time, but this takes a bit of practice.
Try breathing through your nose and mouth periodically throughout the day. Then, apply this technique next time you run and see if it works for you. You might find it helpful, or it might be more trouble than it’s worth.
Remember, you’re trying to find a method of breathing that can become second nature. If it’s too confusing or difficult to implement, try something else!
Breathe Better to Run Better
This article should have given you a few running techniques and exercises so you can finally breathe better while you run. Many runners make the mistake of focusing on their legs and letting their lungs take care of themselves, leading to stitches, injury, and more. Optimize your running by optimizing your breathing and you’re sure to notice a difference!
If you enjoyed learning about the connection between breathing and running, we have lots of health and wellness content on our blog. Check it out for more!