Here are 10 breathing exercises that you can try to improve your running performance. As you try them out, slowly learn each one at a time, and allow yourself at least a week to master one before trying another.
1. Combination (Nose And Mouth)
“Truthfully, there’s no one ‘right’ way for runners to breathe,” says Katherine Lee, a running blogger at Academized and Paper Fellows. “Whether you breathe through your nose or your mouth, or through both, is up to you. However, mouth breathing is for workouts and races, because that gives you the most air; whereas, nose breathing is more for slow paces and calming down.”
2. Belly Breathing
Belly breathing can be done by first lying on your back with your knees bent, and feet on the floor. Next, place your hands on your belly, and take deep breaths into your stomach, not your chest. As you watch your hands rise and fall as you breathe, expand your stomach with each breath. Do 10 of these for pre-run warmups.
3. 2:2 Breathing
“2:2 Breathing” is when you walk and then breathe in for two strides and out for two strides, with this and combination breathing. Once you’re comfortable with this pattern while walking, start running. Do 1–2 minutes of this, and then take a break. Slowly increase the time spent on these breathing patterns.
Deep abdominal breathing not only strengthens the muscles that support breathing, but also lets you take in more air. Diaphragmatic breathing can be done like this:
- Feel for belly breathing, while lying on your back.
- Breathe through nose, filling your belly with air.
- As stomach expands, push diaphragm down and out.
- Exhales should be longer than your inhales.
Do 5 minutes of these within a few days. Run a slow pace when you first incorporate it into your runs. Then later, pick up the pace.
Rhythmic breathing lets you take in more oxygen, and put less stress on the body.
Like any exercise, running can cause muscular imbalances, which can slow you down and put pressure on your diaphragm. Rhythmic breathing lets you put less pressure on your diaphragm, and balance stress from any impact between both sides of your body. If rhythms are complicated, simply focus on your breath to get a sense of how a comfortable rhythm feels.
6. Progressive Breathing
While the 2:2 breathing pattern is ideal for workouts and shorter races, progressive breathing (i.e. 3:3 or 4:4 patterns) is great for training and marathons.
7. Build And Wind Down
As you warm up, you can build up the intensity of your breathing to kickstart your lungs. Then, once you’re almost done running, wind down so your lungs can gradually cool down.
8. Be Weather-Ready
Weather can also affect how you breathe.
In cold weather, it can feel comfortable to breathe. Therefore, cover your mouth and nose with scarf, so that the air you breathe is moistened and warm.
In hot weather, try to run indoors.
9. Controlling Effort
“It’s important to control your effort, as you breathe while running,” says Elise Bibi, a fitness writer at OXEssays and State Of Writing. “Many runners tend to make the mistake of going out too hard, and then suffering for it at the end of their run. However, if you control your breathing while you run, you can regulate your pace more evenly from start to finish.”
10. Focus On Breathing
If your breathing becomes ragged after a run, focus on a breathing pattern that can help maintain a steady flow of oxygen to the muscles. Once you get the pattern going, you’ll feel calmer.
As you try out these 10 breathing techniques, you’ll be able to improve your breathing, as you take on trails and or marathons when you run. But remember:
Use techniques that are comfortable for you.
Run a pace that lets you breathe easily and talk without gasping for air.
Practice breathing throughout the day.
As you fine tune your breathing, you’ll handle certain activities while breathing effectively.
Katherine Rundell is a sports writer at Essay Services and Boomessays.com. She started freelancing after losing her job in the 2008 crash and it turned out to have been the best thing to happen in her career. She lives in Greenville, SC with her husband and two cats. Also, she is a manager at Essay Roo.