We’ve all been there – in the middle of a hard run, you just can’t catch your breath. It’s miserable, it’s uncomfortable, and in extreme cases it can be quite frightening. Learning the proper techniques for breathing while running is one of the more challenging, but important things we all have to learn
Heavy breathing and fatigue are signs that you’re pushing your current level of fitness too far. You're simply trying to do things you’re just not fit enough to do… yet. Building endurance and improving your running are a just a work in progress. While you’re working to build that endurance, try to run at a pace that’s suited for your fitness level. You're body will quickly tell you what you can and cannot do. You’ll increase your distance over time, and you’ll build your fitness and confidence since you choose to start slow.
Stand up straight. The more you bend at the waist, and the more you hunch over, the more you’re impinging on the ability of your lungs to inflate all the way. You can improve your posture by doing core exercises and strengthening the muscles in your torso.
2. Breathe Deeply
Use your diaphragm. Breathe with your belly – in through the nose, out through the mouth. Expand your abdomen with each breath, not your chest. When you breathe deeply, you get more oxygen and you can also avoid side stitches. (A side stitch is a muscular spasm of the diaphragm.) You can even use a breathing fitness trainer tool (btw, even Navy Seals use these) to assist with expanding your lungs.
3. Use Your Arms
You can use your arms to pull yourself forward and take some of the strain off your legs. Hold your arms at a 90-degree angle and rotate them from your shoulders with each stride. This helps to propel you along your path and is part of what’s considered proper running form.
4. Breathe In for Three Steps
Count your foot falls and breathe in time with them. Left, right, left… inhaling all the while. Remember to belly breathe, taking air in through your nose and blowing it back out through your mouth.
5. Breathe Out for Two Steps
Again, count your foot falls and breathe out in time with them. One, two… or right, left… Make sure you exhale through your mouth for the full two steps.
You should be able to run at a “conversational pace”. This means that you should be able to talk to another person in complete sentences. That doesn’t mean that you can bark out one-word “yes/no” answers. That means that you can have a proper conversation while you’re running. If you can’t do it, and if you’re too out of breath to talk while you run, then you’ve exceeded your fitness level and you need to dial it back. Slow down and take a walk break. In fact, having a run/walk combination strategy can actually help you increase the distance you can run without fatigue.
7. Take Your Time
Don’t try to push your pace too quickly. You’re not going to gain anything by pushing past your limits all the time.
Remember, you always need to pay attention to these basic techniques for breathing while running. New runners especially should pay attention to their form more than they focus on speed. You should work on endurance before you work on speed, because endurance is the hardest thing to build up. Speed will come. Endurance has to be earned.
So, what are the “proper techniques for breathing while running”, anyway?
Here’s a quick check list: