Anyone beginner runner knows that breathing can be extremely challenging at times.  With so many other things to think about, like pace and form, breathing shouldn’t be so hard.  This week’s training tip is one that has been helping me catch my breath on runs.

When you breathe through your chest, shallow breathing, you take in less oxygen.  It’s important to learn how to belly breathe, using your diaphragm, to increase intake of oxygen. To practice and learn how to engage in belly breathing, try this simple exercise:

  • Lie down on your back and place both hands on your belly.
  • Keep your upper chest and shoulders still.
  • Focus on raising your belly as you inhale. Feel it with your hands.
  • Lower your belly as you exhale.
  • Inhale and exhale through both your nose and mouth.

Once you feel the difference, practice this breathing standing, walking and then running.    It is hard when you are running, or gasping, so really practice the technique first in non running options.

My running coach told me to try and establish a breathing cadence, or pattern when running.  The easiest way for me to do this was to count my breathes in and out.  At first, I counted 1-2-3-4 on inhalation followed by 1-2-3-4 on exhalation.  I then tried to work my way up to 5 where I am currently.  Eventually I hope to get into a zone and not have to think so much about breathing.

Many people wonder about nose vs. mouth breathing during exercise.  While it would be wonderful to run like the wind and calmly breathe through my nose, that is not reality.  Reality is you get more oxygen when you breathe through your mouth, so why stress it.  Just breathe through your mouth and don’t complicate matters that don’t need complication.

Finally, when you are in the midst of a run, if you are gasping for air your pace is likely too fast.  Slow it down, catch your breath and continue at a comfortable pace.  Your breathing is a measure of your conditioning and it should develop and improve over time.  Continue to vary your workouts, practice your breathing techniques and gradually increase pace over time.

I hope this helps you breathe easy out on your run, or workout this week.  Give it and try and let me know if it helps.  Please share in the comments below.

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