Inadequate oxygen can lead to reduced performance,cramps and early fatigue. Remember that, running especially marathon running or jogging is an aerobic exercise, hence getting in as much oxygen should be your main goal. For sprinters, it’s more of getting that energy reserve to fire your way to the finishing line. Practice good breathing techniques earlier on to avoid bad habits and ensure your runs are more enjoyable and comfortable.
Let’s have a look at these tips.
Breathing Tip #1 – Good Posture
Having bad postures can significantly cause the amount of air going into your lungs. An example is slouching or bending forward. Slouching or bending forward can have an impact on breathing because it compresses the chest wall and makes it more difficult for your lungs to expand. That is why in my previous article on body posture, keeping an upright torso is important. Standing upright helps get more oxygen into your lungs.
Breathing Tip #2 – Mouth & Nose
There is some debate if breathing through the mouth or nose is better. Breathing through the nose can be helpful in winter as your body warms the air that enters your lungs. Breathing through the mouth can dry up all your mucous membranes and make you feel very uncomfortable in the mouth and throat. However, breathing through the mouth helps relaxes your facial muscles. Generally speaking, using both your mouth and nose to breathe allows more oxygen to enter your lungs. Having more oxygen helps to get in more oxygen into your system which is what your muscles really needs during an aerobic exercise like running.
Breathing Tip #3 – Deep Breathing
Before running, warm up by going through some breathing drills such as deep breathing and diaphragmatic breathing. Diaphragmatic breathing is also known as belly or abdominal breathing. A good way to think about it is to think of your belly breathing and not your chest breathing. Deep breathing helps fill the lower part of your lungs which allow better gaseous exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide.
A good way to start practicing this is to lie on your back on the ground flat and take in a deep breath. Inhale as much as you can and watch your stomach rise/expand. Hold your breath for 5 seconds before blowing it out. As you exhale, watch as your stomach falls. Diaphragmatic breathing or belly breathing is a much healthier way to take in as much oxygen for your running routines.
Breathing Tip #4 – Your Breathing Rhythm
Another important tip to remember is to monitor your breathing rate. Different runners may have different breathing to step rates. Some may breathe in after 3 steps while others may breathe in after 2 steps of running. There is no rule to this but something to bear in mind is to be consistent. Find a breathing rhythm that is consistent and comfortable for you. Another way to do this is to breathe according to the beat of a song on your iPod, if you can’t find a rhythm. But ayvoid breathing too rapidly or it will tire you out.
Breathing might be a very natural thing to do but surprisingly most runners don’t know how to breathe the right way. Master these 4 tips and you are on your way to be a much better runner than before.