Whether you're a new runner or life long marathoner, learning how to control your breathing will improve your performance. With the right breathing technique, you’ll be able to run longer, faster, and more efficiently. This will allow you to finish strong whether it's on weekly training run or the race you're competing in.
Focus On Your Breathing
The first thing that you want to do is make sure that you’re focusing on how you are breathing. Go on a short walk and just think about taking slow, deep breaths in through your nose until you fill your chest and then out through your mouth, concentrating on breathing from your diaphragm up.
Don’t worry about how fast you’re moving or how far you're going. Focus only on your deep breathing. As you take a breath in, count how many steps you take. Do the same when you breathe out.
This breathing exercise will help you get a sense of what your normal breathing rate is as you’re walking. Make sure that you stand up straight while doing this. Which means keeping your head up and your shoulders back and down (not hunched). If you also need to build up some strength in your core you can read about that here.
You should feel somewhat relaxed and not rigid. Having proper posture will allow you to take in a full, deep breath. And in doing so will increase lung capability and provide more oxygen while running.
Speed Up Your Run
Speed up your movement gradually while trying to keep the same breathing technique. This might be difficult at first but keep practicing.
Most people automatically want to breathe faster when they increase their pace. Unfortunately rapid breathing does not allow the lungs to fully expand. Therefore muscles receive lower levels of oxygen leading to cramping (otherwise known as "stitches". ) A condition which will stop any runner in their tracks.
This is going to take focus,practice and patience. Don't worry about your pace or distance until you've got the technique down. It might be frustrating in the beginning but will pay off in the end. There are actually devices you can use when you're not running that will help such as a lung expander device.
All Out Run
Once you think you’ve got it down you can head out at a slow run right out of the gate instead of starting at a walking pace. Focus on your strides and your breathing, making sure that you are matching them up and taking a long enough breath each time.
The more you do this the more comfortable and natural it will feel.. Unfortunately, it’s not the type of breathing that most people do but they really should. This will become easier as you continue with your breathing exercises. For additional insights on techniques you can check out The Oxygen Advanage by Patrick McKeown
Important Breathing Tips
Try counting your breaths. A slow count of ‘one, two, three’ maybe just enough to help you focus. This will allow for a nice, deep inhale and a good exhale expelling carbon dioxide and giving the body enough oxygen.. That way your lung will be ready for your next deep breath.
Don't worry about your pace! While perfecting this technique you are going to have to run slower at first. Containing that urge to start out fast is tough. But by conserving your energy levels and allowing the body to get enough oxygen you will become a better runner.
Don't forget to have fun! Having proper breathing techniques will allow you to do this. You're going to feel so much better and stronger when you run. You'll be ready to take on whatever goals you set for yourself and have the confidence to complete them.
By figuring out your ideal running and breathing patterns you’re going to be much better prepared for whatever comes your way. All it takes is practice and determination. Don't let your run be cut short because you ran out of oxygen and wasn't able to finish. Mastering proper breathing techniques will make the difference between surviving your run or crushing run and feeling great. So take a deep breath and get out there and enjoy yourself.