When you start running, you have a lot of things on your mind, and breathing is probably not one of them. Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned runner, proper breathing enhances your run, helping you move more efficiently and preventing injury and fatigue. Here are some tips on how to breathe while running to get you started.
1. Remember to Breathe!
It seems obvious, but sometimes when exercising people forget to breathe. During moments of intense focus, you may find yourself holding your breath without even realizing it.
2. Practice Belly Breaths
Your body needs oxygen to survive, and it needs a lot more when you run. Learn to take deep belly breaths by lying on your back with your hand on your abdomen and breathing deeply by extending the diaphragm downward, drawing air all the way into your lungs.
Practice for a few minutes a day, then practice it on walks and eventually on runs. Just like you should warm up your muscles before you exercise, practice these breaths to warm up your lungs before running. This can help prevent the dreaded side stitch and other injuries.
3. Watch Your Posture
Bad posture is something many of us struggle with these days, and it can spill over into our runs. Slouching lessens your lung capacity, so keeping your shoulders back and down is important for how to breathe while running and will boost your efficiency.
Plus, according to physical therapist Kelly Kuhn , shallow chest breathing leads to tight core muscles, which can throw your entire posture out of alignment and put excess strain on your leg muscles, low back, and knees.
4. Mouth or Nose?
Nose breathing filters and warms the air before it enters the lungs during normal activity. However, when running mouth breathing is almost always preferred, unless you are specifically training for greater respiratory function.
If you are running at an easy, leisurely pace, nose breathing is acceptable, but overall, the amount of oxygen you’ll need is too great so you should breathe through your mouth for maximum efficiency.
If you have asthma or are concerned about cold air in cooler months, consider wearing a mask or neck gator to increase warmth and moisture as you breathe.
5. Steps and Breathing Techniques
Any breathing technique should be strengthened first with walking before incorporating it in a run. Your body needs to get used to the techniques so they become second nature.
Try regulating your breathing with your steps. A good beginning pattern is 2:2 – inhale for two steps and exhale for two steps.
Then experiment with other techniques: try 3:3, 4:4, or alternating patterns like 2:1, where you inhale for two steps, exhale for one.
The exact pattern isn’t important. What matters is that you breathe deeply and consistently and that you are comfortable and reaching your maximum oxygen intake.
These running breathing tips will help you understand how to breathe while running. Remember to take deep belly breaths when running.
Keeping your posture in check, breathing through your mouth when you need maximum oxygen intake, and trying out different techniques to coordinate breathing with steps will help keep you running longer and stronger.