Before we get into running techniques, let’s check in on something we often take for granted: breathing. At its most basic, we live to provide oxygen to our bodies and expel carbon dioxide. When we put our bodies under stress by running, they struggle to get enough oxygen and remove the waste product. When we reach these limits, our muscles produce more lactic acid, which causes cramps and fatigue. More efficient breathing is the best way to get more oxygen into the body.
Utilize these valuable and easy breathing techniques to improve your performance when running. Master this one by one by giving yourself some time in between and integrating them in your next run.
Breathing deep into your abdomen trains your body to breathe air and process oxygen more efficiently. By doing this, you reduce your chances of getting side stitches.
Breathing through your chest and not through your belly causes tension in your shoulders and does not allow more air to come through, so naturally, breathing through your diaphragm will leave you more relaxed than average. This is especially important if you are used to breathing shallowly — you can also incorporate this technique into your daily life.
a. Try breathing through your belly while lying down.
b. Inhale air through your nose, directing that air into your stomach.
c. As the air goes in, expand your diaphragm downwards and out.
d. Exhale for a more extended period than you inhale.
Do this a couple of times a day for a few minutes within a few days. Once you get the hang of this technique and incorporate it into your runs, you can pick up the pace.
Concentrate and be mindful of your breathing. This creates awareness of your breathing process, improving things such as your lungs, their efficiency, and their oxygen capacity.
No one exercise fits all. Find the one that is the most comfortable and best suitable for you, and develop your breathing techniques with the following:
- Breathing alternately through your nostrils.
- Breathing through your nose while your chin touches your chest. (Do this for 3 seconds per inhale/exhale).
- Breathing through your nose, cross-armed while holding your ribs.
- 4-7-8 breathing.
- Pucker your lips while breathing slowly through your mouth.
Form is Important
Having good form and posture allows the body to breathe more quickly compared to when you don’t have good posture. Excellent and healthy body positioning will enable you to breathe more efficiently and maximize your breath in each run.
Pull your shoulders back and away from your ears. Avoid forward hunching or slouching.
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Breathe to the Beat
Establishing a beat or a pattern between either side of your body as you run avoids any imbalances in your body. Rhythmically breathing relieves this extra pressure and puts both sides of your body in equilibrium.
Time your inhales and exhales to the rhythm of your feet. And go with whichever is more comfortable and natural to your body if all these counting patterns are too complicated for an afternoon jog.
For health and efficiency’s sake, your lungs would function better running where there is the least amount of pollution in the area, so plan your runs where the route takes you to more rural areas or ones with lighter traffic.
Clear Skies Ahead!
Depending on your health conditions or overall conditioning, there are several factors in the quality of your run that can be drastically affected by the weather. Cold air can be dry, prickly, and hard to breathe, which can be difficult if you have breathing issues like asthma.
When left with no choice, living in a colder country, try to cover your mouth area to generate warmth for the air you breathe, making it more manageable. Other run-affecting weather is thunderstorms, which are unsafe, and abrupt changes in the weather like sudden rain showers.
Warm-Up and Cooldown
Do not shock your body into submission. Allowing your body, especially your lungs, enough time to build up and adapt to running is essential. Steadily increasing the intensity can achieve this.
Before you finish running, it is also vital to give your body and lungs the chance to cool off slowly.
Learning different techniques and tools can and will improve your breathing patterns when you run. The listed ways of enhancing your breathing allow you to reach greater heights when running as you breathe more optimally. This then leads to you reaching your full potential. Don’t forget to know your limits and go at a pace where you won’t struggle — breathing and talking.
Develop your mindfulness when breathing and train breath awareness even through mundane everyday tasks. Remember the bad habits to avoid when breathing, and be mindful to do those techniques that allow you to breathe better depending on the situation.