When you first start running learning to control your breathing may seem like a big challenge. Using the wrong technique will leave you gasping for air. Here are a few tips to help you with your breathing.
Belly Breathing is Best
I know, it sounds strange to say belly breathing, but it’s true. What to improve your breathing and running performance, then learn to breath deep from the belly instead of taking short shallow breaths that come from your chest.
Okay, so it’s not really your belly that helps you breathe, but your diaphragm.
That’s right, your diaphragm is the work horse of your breathing technique. It will help you maximize your air intake and subsequently the amount of oxygen while you are running. Blood flows throughout your body to bring oxygen to muscles so they can work. Deep belly breathing will help prevent fatigue and puts you in the mental zone with a calming effect. This helps push the carbon dioxide out of your system as you exhale, giving the proper air exchange.
If you are a new runner, you can practice for a few minutes a day. All you need to do is lie down and put your hand on your belly. Slowly take several long deep breaths. You will feel you hand rise and then fall as you exhale. You will notice it is like the natural breathing you feel when you are relaxed and ready to fall asleep when lying in bed.
Rhythmic and Focused Breathing
I love the sense of focus and steady rhythm that comes from breathing properly when you run. It turns out, your body loves it as well. Start off with an equal pattern for inhaling and exhaling. Breath in for two counts followed by exhaling for two counts. This will give you a steady flow of oxygen rich air to keep those muscles moving efficiently. This can be a great mechanism for controlling your running pace as well. It’s like everything works together in concert as you move.
Use Your Nose and Mouth when Breathing
When you are running you should use BOTH your nose and mouth to inhale and exhale. If you only use your mouth, you will feel like you are hyperventilating. This leads to short and shallow breaths which are not optimal.
Nose and mouth breathing at the same time will lead to the greatest use of your diaphragm (sell belly breathing above).
Your Lungs Need a Warm Up Too
It is not just your muscles that need a warm up prior to physical activity. Your lungs and diaphragm need the same kind of warm up to function at their best. Start your run with a brisk walk to get the blood and oxygen flowing. Use this warm up to focus on your belly breathing and expanding those lungs. This will help cut down on the stabbing pain that is common if you start running without warming up first.
As you start your run, ease into the pace for the first minute or two. Learn to listen to your body. It is pretty good at telling you what it needs and you will be amazed at the improved performance you see.