Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Just Breathe

Ever notice how experienced runners look like they're running with little effort and their breathing seems just as normal as if they were standing still? That's because they've mastered deep breathing and have discovered a breathing rhythm that works for them. Using deep breathing techniques and having a good breathing rhythm is key to becoming an efficient runner. It's also key to more enjoyable runs.

The good news is that efficient breathing techniques can be learned by anyone. Runners may use different methods to achieve deep breathing and to find their own breathing rhythm, but the ultimate goal is the same—breathing properly to get the right amount of oxygen to your muscles increasing endurance.

Spending a few runs focusing on your breathing can ensure more enjoyable and relaxing runs. To begin, start running at a slow pace. Focus on your breathing as you take in a long slow breath. Then release this breath with a long slow exhale. To make this easier, try inhaling over 3 strides and exhaling over 3 strides making a complete breathing cycle 6 strides. There are no hard and fast rules. Depending on your stride, your breathing cycle may take 4 strides or 8 strides. If associating your breathing with your stride doesn't work for you, try counting—3 counts/inhale, 3 counts/exhale. With practice, this will become second nature and you will no longer need keep track of strides or count.

Which ever technique you use the main goal is to control your breathing so that you're breathing from your diaphragm or "belly breathing." Controlled, deep breathing will help prevent those annoying side stitches too. Belly breathing gets more oxygen into the blood stream, increases lung capacity and endurance. Once you have your breathing under control, you'll experience more enjoyable runs. You'll also be able to then focus on increasing your speed and/or distance.

Check out the video clip below for a recap of breathing for runners from Les Whitley, director of Velocity Sports Performance in Franklin TN.

How to Control Breathing While Running -- powered by


Anonymous said...

Great article but I think this is great advice for life in general. If everyone would just breath and take a few deep breaths now and then there their lives would be so much better and happier.

RunnerDude said...

I couldn't agree more Bev! Breathe and stop to smell the roses too! The other afternoon it was so beautiful, on my run down the local greenway, that I actually stopped on a footbridge that crosses a lake to look at a huge Blue Heron taking flight. I never stop like that, but glad I did that day.