Pay attention to where your breath is generated. So many of us use our chests to expand and collect air, unknowingly limiting the amount of oxygen we can take in. Perhaps it’s an attempt to appear slimmer, but really – chest breathing is hurting your running performance.
Learn to Belly Breathe
By learning to collect air through your belly, you’re using your diaphragm to expand and contract and collecting more air by allowing more space for your lungs to expand. Breath through your belly! Let your belly expand as you gasp for air on your daily run! As most of us don’t naturally do this, you might have to focus on training your mind and body to collect air in your belly.
You can practice belly breathing by laying on your back with both hands on your belly. As you breath, watch for your hands to rise. This will help you to know that your diaphragm is contracting and expanding and you’re breathing correctly. Add foot taps (alternating your feet) to mimic your running pattern. Now you can apply your breathing to the cadence of your feet. Count 3 foot taps on your inhale and 2 foot taps on your exhale. This is how you learn to rhythmically breath and displace the workload evenly throughout your body.
If you struggle to use this breathing pattern, try breathing in slower or tightening your cadence.
Implement Rhythmic Running
Once you’ve gotten comfortable with breathing from your diaphragm, you can apply that breathing to your natural rhythm. At a comfortable pace, practice what was mentioned earlier – Count 3 steps on your inhale and 2 steps on your exhale.
This can be awkward at first so if you find yourself struggling to inhale over three breaths, try either breathing slower or shortening your stride. With practice, you’ll soon be able to match your breathing to your regular stride.
Implementing rhythmic breathing will strengthen your lungs, increase your oxygen intake and usage, and builds your anaerobic abilities and cardiovascular strength. This is going to be a key component to increasing your distance.
Breath Through Your Mouth
Becoming a running mouth breather is nothing to be ashamed of! You’ll get the most oxygen and the most control of your rhythmic breathing if you breathe through your mouth. Breathing through your nose isn’t a terrible “NO, NO!” But you’re limiting your O2 intake and therefore lowering your stamina.
Try slapping on a good amount of lip balm before you run so your lips don’t dry out and make you regret leaving the house.
Breathing from your diaphragm, rhythmically set to your foot steps, and mostly through your mouth are the three key components to efficient breathing while you run. If you’re huffing and puffing or cramping up in your abdomen, you’re doing something wrong and missing out on a more comfortable, oxygen packed experience.
About The Author
Kevin Jones is a health and fitness blogger and regular contributor to a number of fitness websites. He writes for NordicTrack. 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