5 tips for how to breathe when you run

How to breathe while running: 5 breathing techniques for runners

On a typical day, most of us don’t give that much thought to the ins and outs of breathing. You’ll notice that you might start thinking about it more when getting involved in high intensity workouts, like running. You got it - knowing how to breathe efficiently while running is important to being able to run further and to not getting out of breath. We’re here to cover some specific breathing techniques that should help you train effectively.

But if you’re looking for a more tailored approach, feel free to talk to a physical education specialist who can help customise your training to your profile and goals.

Why does running and breathing feel difficult?

Well you’ll see that it’s pretty straightforward. Our heart and lungs work hard while we're running. Our muscles have to work harder, use more oxygen and generate more carbon dioxide. Hence our breathing is more taxing, and our circulation is also working harder.

Because our bodies need more oxygen and our circulation is working harder, it may be more difficult to breathe. That’s why you may sometimes feel out of breath, tired and have to stop earlier than you'd hoped, or, like many of us, get a stitch. Better breathing techniques can fight it!

5 tips to improve your breathing while running

Getting out of breath can hinder performance while training. We explain 5 breathing techniques for runners: they are simple and can be used whether you’re a beginner or training for your next marathon. Check them out:

1. Try deep belly breathing

Deep belly breathing, which is also known as diaphragmatic breathing, helps strengthen your breathing muscles, in turn allowing you to breathe in more air.

This technique should help you use oxygen more efficiently and avoid those sharp pains in your side. You know those pains that you sometimes get while running? Like you, we’re all about reaching our personal best so we're definitely interested when it comes to new tips to overcome some common blocks to our fitness routine.

Before trying deep belly breathing during a run, you'll need to practise and perfect it - just like everything else you excel at! Lie down with your back on the floor and breathe in through your nose, filling your chest with air. Push your diaphragm down and expel the air, breathing out slowly.

The idea behind this technique is to fill your lungs deeply with air, avoiding superficial breathing during running. The more you do it, the easier it gets.

2. Breathe through both your nose to avoid hyperventilating

Normally, and we think you would agree, we breathe through our noses. However, as the intensity of our workout increases, we tend to switch to breathing through our mouths, and there's nothing wrong with that… until a certain point.

And what is that point? You ask… Well, it's when you lose control of your breathing. Oral breathing tends to be heavier, and we're actually a lot more likely to lose control of our breathing and start hyperventilating if we're breathing through our mouths. The solution? Switching to nasal breathing. Supplying your body with exactly the same amount of oxygen, nasal breathing is just that much easier to control, and keep you running strong.

3. Breathe rhythmically

Improving your rhythm applies to far more than just music. If you’re into running, it's important for you too. Rhythmical breathing is easy and can help improve performance while running. Just synchronise your steps to your breaths - in and out - in the way that best suits you. For example, breathing in for two steps and breathing out for the next two.

This breathing technique for running helps absorb oxygen and reduce the stress caused by your feet hitting the ground while running. For longer distance runners, this can be key!

4. Practice good form

Another simple technique is good posture or form. Think about how you hold yourself. Are you hunched over? Tense? If this is sounding familiar to you well.. Hold your body straight and your head aligned with your spine, avoiding leaning forward, for example. Relax your shoulders, pulling them down away from your ears. Maintaining good posture helps with breathing.

5. Warm up your diaphragm before running

Feeling out of breath or getting a stitch in your side often happens because you haven’t remembered to breathe properly. That’s why it's so important to be conscious of your breathing as you run, especially if you’re chasing after your next running challenge.

A good tip is to warm up your diaphragm before running. To do this, breathe in deeply, putting a hand on your chest to feel your lungs filling with air. Pay attention to each breath in and out and control the rhythm of your breathing. If you do this, it will be easier to breathe deeply and properly as you work out.

Breathing properly during running can help with your performance. Don’t underestimate your potential. We've always got your back!

Of course there are good, healthy ways to help you smash your goals. As well as breathing properly, stay hydrated, eat well, sleep well, keep your stress levels down and just go for it!

Written by: Green Park Content

Any medical advice and views expressed are those of the author; readers should obtain medical advice.

 REFERENCES

[1] European Lung Foundation. Exercise and your lungs. Available at: https://www.europeanlung.org/assets/files/pt/publications/exercise-and-the-lungs-pt.pdf

[2] Recinto, C. Efthemeou, T. Boffelli, T.* and Navalta, J. Effects of Nasal or Oral Breathing on Anaerobic Power Output and Metabolic Responses. Int J Exerc Sci. 2017; 10(4): 506–514. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5466403/

[3] American Lung Association. Breathing basics for runners. Available at: https://www.lung.org/blog/breathing-basics-for-runners

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