How To Improve Your Breathing While Running

Why are you out of breath while you are running or exercising? The big question is how to improve your breathing while running, as this can be a problem for experienced runners, especially new runners. I have also written a blog post on how to start to run, which advises all the new runners out there.

With the information I am about to give you, I hope you will breathe a lot better the next time you go running.

What is breathing

Breathing is the process of bringing oxygen into the lungs and removing carbon dioxide. People breathe in different ways. This process is essential to life as we will eventually die when we stop breathing (not just holding our breath).

Different types of breathing

I will now look at the different types of breathing.

Eupnea – This is relaxed breathing when our body is at rest; it does not involve any level of thought to continue to breathe in this manner.

Diaphragmatic – This involves breathing deeply into the stomach. During diaphragmatic breathing, a person consciously engages their diaphragm to breathe more deeply. You should be able to see or feel the belly filling up with air when you are breathing in and feel it emptying when you are breathing out. This is also called belly breathing.

Costal breathing – This type of breathing requires contraction of the intercostal muscles, as this muscle relaxes air that leaves the lungs. This is also known as shallow breathing. This is often used in yoga.

Hyperpnea is when you breathe more deeply and sometimes slightly faster than usual. It usually happens during exercise. It can also occur due to a medical condition; if due to a medical condition, make sure to contact the doctor. Hyperpnea can sometimes lead to hyperventilation.

Why are you struggling to breathe while running?

The main reason for struggling to breathe while running is that excess carbon dioxide has built up in our bodies during the run. Sometimes we are just running too hard to keep the pace up, especially if we are new to running. It could be how we carry ourselves when running, incorrect posture running with our head looking down if the head is pointing down, it is tough to get air into our lungs, if you are not warmed up properly before any run, you will struggle to breathe.

Nose or mouth

When we breathe in through our nose and out through our mouth.

Nose – we can breathe in through our nose, but we can also breathe out through our nose, though it is harder to breathe out through the nose. This is because our nose filters the air into our lungs; if we only breathe through our nose when running, we call this nasal breathing. Nasal breathing should only be used when running easy; if you are running hard, you won’t get enough oxygen into the lungs while breathing only through the nose.

Mouth – we can breathe in and out through our mouths. We will get more air into our lungs when breathing through our mouth, but if we breathe like this for a long time, it can give us a hyperventilating effect.

Nose and Mouth – This is the best way to breathe when running. We breathe together through our nose and mouth and exhale again. This will keep our breathing steadier for a lot longer period. It is probably worth practicing this when you are not running to get used to it.

Belly breathing how to improve your breathing while running

Now that we have decided that the best type of breathing is to breathe through our nose and mouth combined. We then have to determine the kind of breath we take. Belly breathing has been proven to be the most beneficial for runners; if we use belly breathing for breathing, it maximizes our oxygen intake. Expanding the diaphragm allows the lungs to take in more oxygen,n which keeps our breathing steady. It is essential to practice belly breathing when relaxed to get used to breathing this way.

How to practice belly breathing

  1. Lie down on the floor
  2. Place one hand on the stomach and the other hand on the chest.
  3. Breathe in through the nose and mouth-filling the belly with air. You will feel the hand moving up when the stomach is filled. The hand on the chest should not move.
  4. Exhale and tighten the stomach muscles and let the belly fall. The hand on the chest should still not move.
  5. Keep repeating this for about 5 minutes a few times per day.
  6. When you have mastered belly breathing lying down, try to master it by sitting down and then standing up. Then, when you can belly breathe, stand up and walk, it is time to try it when running.
Breathing Techniques

Now that we have decided on breathing through both our mouth and nose combined and breathing this breath into our belly, it is time to look at some techniques which will make breathing easier.

  1. Keep proper form – You must keep proper form when you are running. Stand tall and keep your head in line with the spine. Try to avoid slouching forward as you get tired. Keep the shoulders relaxed and away from the ears. The straighter our body runs, the easier it is to get oxygen into the lungs.
  2. Breathe rhythmically – It is good to keep breathing to a proper rhythm. For example, breathe in for three steps and breathe out for 2. Also, it’s essential to alternate which foot you hit the ground with as you exhale to prevent any muscular imbalance.
  3. Practice belly breathing as above before you commence any run. It’s as important to warm up our lungs as it is to warm up our bodies.
  4. Breathe in clean air – if you are running in a city or town, try to arrange any running workouts when there is the least traffic and fumes from cars.

Final Thoughts

We have now looked at breathing for runners. I hope you understand better how to breathe now when you run, as we have looked at how we breathe and the different techniques that we can use to make breathing easier as we run.

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