You see runners running effortlessly, seeming not to struggle or gasp for breathe even if they have been running for a long time. There is actually a scientific technique behind that and they have to practice focused breathing techniques until it becomes second nature to them.
It is not the volume of air entering the lungs that is the problem but rather the body’s inability to meet its increased demand for oxygen that makes you feel out of breath. Proper breathing will help your body deliver oxygen to the muscles more efficiently and thereby increase your running endurance.
Here are some breathing techniques to help you establish a proper breathing pattern.
- Warm up properly from 3 to 5 minutes by taking a brisk walk to gradually increase your respiration and allow your diaphragm to adjust to deeper breathing.
- Learn the technique of breathing from your diaphragm. Try this technique to know how it is done. Sit down and place one hand just below your ribcage and the other hand on your upper chest. Breathe in slowly and feel the air fill your diaphragm as your stomach moves against your hand. The hand on your chest should remain stationary. You can also do this while lying down. It may be difficult at first because you are so used to shallow breathing. You really have to focus to do it properly.
- A lot of beginning runners believed that they should breathe through the nose. In fact you should breathe through your nose and mouth to deliver more oxygen to your muscles. You should also breathe from your diaphragm and not from you chest. Breathing from the chest is shallow and will cause you to lose breath faster. Breathing deeply through the diaphragm will allow you to take in more air that your muscles need to keep you going. Side stitches can also be prevented by deep breathing.
- Exhale through the nose and mouth slowly and try to exhale fully to help remove more carbon dioxide from the body. You will inhale more deeply when you expire more carbon dioxide.
- Start out with a slow pace and increase it gradually to build a rhythm. Try to match your breathing to the time your foot touches the ground. Try to build a rhythm of three steps for every “inhale” and two steps for every “exhale” or 3:2 ratio. Just like when you are marching, this means that you take in oxygen on left, right, left steps and exhale on right, left steps. You have to slow down your pace initially to practice and master this technique until you can do it naturally.
- If you feel dizzy, nauseous or breathing faster, that means you are running too fast and you have forgotten your rhythm. Slow down and get back on your right tempo.
- After your run, do not stop immediately. Allow your body to gradually cool down as well as your respiration to adjust. Continue to run for a few meters then go down to a brisk walk.
- Do not eat a large meal and avoid fatty foods right before you run. You should eat two hours before to allow the food to be digested. Fatty foods and a heavy stomach can affect your breathing and running as well as your stomach.
Learning to breathe properly while you run is easy but it will take time for you to do it unconsciously. Take it slowly and focus on the proper breathing technique and keep on practicing.