You can walk and chew gum at the same time, but can you run and breathe at the same time? Sounds easy enough, but ask any beginning runner and notice that they can’t answer you through all the huffing and puffing they’re doing.
Truth is that breathing while you run isn’t as easy as it might seem. Running is tough exercise. It tires you out quickly. And if you don’t have a game plan for how to breathe, it can tire you out even more quickly.
Let’s take a look at a few techniques to help you get more out of your running:
1. Taking Deep Breaths Feeds Your Muscles
The most basic thing to understand is that the huffing and puffing you might experience as an inexperienced runner is not good.
In fact, you’re essentially hyperventilating. By gasping for air, you’re actually preventing oxygen from circulating freely through your body because you’re creating an unhealthy drop in carbon dioxide. The end result can lead to fatigue and even dizziness or lightheadedness.
The solution is to take longer, deeper breaths. It may feel unnatural at first, and your body may want to start panting, but you need to keep practicing. Longer, deeper breaths help oxygenate the body much more effectively.
2. Breathe From Your Belly, Not Your Chest
This one might run counter to what you originally thought, but deep breaths need to come from your belly, not your upper chest.
Using your belly and diaphragm is the most efficient way to breathe and helps get more oxygen into your body and circulating to your muscles.
To practice this technique and make it a habit, lie on your back and place something on your stomach: a book, a box of tissues, whatever you have available. Take slow, deep breaths and make this object rise.
Keep practicing until it’s second-nature and be sure to take this technique with you out onto the road or treadmill.
3. Develop A Clear, Consistent Breathing Pattern
One of the best ways to make sure you’re breathing properly is to develop a consistent rhythm. It will vary based on how fatigued you are, your stride length, and the conditions around you, but the goal is to hone in on a steady rhythm.
For example, let’s say you start breathing in when your left foot hits the pavement, continue as your right fit hits, left again, right again, and then out on your left foot hitting again, exhale for another four strides.
It would look something like this: inhale/stride, stride, stride, stride, exhale/stride, stride, stride, stride.
- Inhale: One, two, three, four
- Exhale: Five, six, seven, eight
Play around with a rhythm, and once you find something that works for you, try to stick closely to it.
Kevin Jones is a health and fitness blogger and regular contributor to a number of fitness websites. He writes for NordicTrack and Proform. During his free time, he likes to be very active and spend time with his wife and two children shredding the slopes of Park City, Utah or chasing down the Salt Lake City Korean food trucks. Connect with him online; LinkedIn – Twitter