Most people I know are not runners and when I ask if they like to run, I get an immediate “no way!” or “I don’t run.” Basically, they feel running is for the birds. I used to run on a regular basis and fell out of the habit over the years. It’s not that I dislike it, but when I think of what makes running feel torturous for me (besides bad running shoes), I’d have to say it is bad breathing technique. Without a good breathing technique, you can feel like you’re in a lot more pain than you really are. Most of us are shallow chest breathers during the day. How often do you stop to focus and breathe from your belly on a regular basis?
When you don’t have a good rhythm down during a run, you can lose breath quickly which causes you to feel winded. The lack of oxygen to your muscles will effect your endurance and you run much shorter distances.
How to Improve Your Breathing Method During a Run
Not only is deep belly breathing great any time of the day, it is even more helpful while running. Our bodies need more oxygen during strenuous activities such as running and breathing from your chest won’t serve you as well. Belly breathing requires inhaling deeply while expanding your stomach outward. Exhale slowly out of your mouth while your stomach slowly releases back into it’s normal position. Practice this method during the day and then try it on your next run. Keep in mind that you won’t be able to take long, deep breaths while running so your breaths may have to be shorter. Still focus on your belly rather than your chest.
Breathing Through Your Mouth
Trying to run at a good pace while only breathing through your nose won’t get enough oxygen to your muscles. It feels natural to breathe through your nose while at rest but it feels more natural to breathe through your mouth while running (at least it does for me.) Breathing through the mouth allows you to take in way more oxygen and release a lot more carbon dioxide.
Keep a Rhythm
Once you find a good pace, start to breathe in rhythm by counting your steps. Inhale or exhale every 2 to 3 steps until you find what you’re comfortable with.
Use HIIT for Cardio and Improving Your Runs
There are other forms of exercise that can help with your breathing as well as your endurance. Performing HIIT (high intensity interval training) 2 – 3 times a week can also improve your overall cardio health. I enjoy interval training with bodyweight exercises. Not only do you get an excellent cardio workout in a short amount of time but you begin to notice the benefits right away which can help tremendously during a run.
I use Les Mills Combat for interval training because it is a MMA style workout that is a lot of fun. The instructors are Dan Cohen and Rachael Newsham, both trained in martial arts and both are fun and enthusiastic. It is an inexpensive program and combines HIIT and strength training.
I have had my share of good runs and bad runs due to how I paced myself and my breathing rhythm. Having a good technique takes practice and can make all the difference in how enjoyable running can be. Do you have any tips to share on this subject? Leave your tips in the comments below!