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Learning to breathe

by Meghann on October 11, 2011


When it comes to running, I 100% believe that learning to breathe properly is monumental with upping any runner’s game. Having proper breathing technique allows your body to relax and use the energy where it’s needed – making those legs move! πŸ™‚

Here are a few basic runner breathing techniques that I’ve pick up over the years:

  • Start by practicing slow, deep breaths on short, slow runs. Count 1..2…3… while breathing though your nose and out your mouth. It helps to count every three steps or find a beat to your music that works.
  • It’s easy to take short breaths that stay in the lungs and burn you out, instead focus on filling your entire abdomen with air for a nice deep breath. It feels funny at first, but – once you get the hang of it – it comes naturally.
  • Try running with a friend at a slow conversational pace. The slower pace, mixed with keeping up with the conversation, will help your body release the tension and breathe at a controlled rate.
  • If at anytime you feel yourself getting out of breath – slow the pace down, close your mouth and focus exclusively on breathing in and out of your nose. You’ll be surprised how calm you start to feel as you begin to control your breathing.
  • Other great ways to improve breathing include yoga, swimming, and even practicing filling your abdomen with air at your desk. Keep your hand on you belly and fill it rise up and down, so you get an idea of what you’re looking for on the road.

Do you have any tips to add?

1 Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat October 11, 2011 at 10:04 am

Ahh yes- I know the feeling of gasping for air during a race and it’s got to be one of the most uncomfortable and least-favourite parts about running! (I do love running, but that initial omg-I-can’t-get-any-air feeling is horrible!) I usually just try to calm myself down, breathe deeper, and somehow after a few minutes it doesn’t feel so bad any more.
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2 Christina @ Just Running October 11, 2011 at 10:07 am

Haha, seeing a post about how to breathe made me smile. πŸ™‚ I can’t run with my mouth closed because I have awful allergies that make my nose run nonstop. I’ve joked that my nose is my running partner because we always run together.
Christina @ Just Running recently posted..Home, Sweet Missile Base

3 Gina @ Running to the Kitchen October 11, 2011 at 10:09 am

This is soooo hard for me! You’d think I’d have the breathing thing down after playing soccer for 17 years and now running but I find it so incredibly hard to breathe through my nose and out my mouth instead of both through my mouth. I’m not sure if my asthma contributes to it or what but anytime I try to breathe through my nose it just doesn’t feel like I’m getting air fast enough. I’m such a loud mouth breather though it can get embarrassing on the bike trail when people start turning around b/c they can hear me coming from my breathing!
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4 Jes October 11, 2011 at 11:37 am

I have asthma as well, and I read somewhere it is better to breath through our mouths exclusively because it helps expel all the bad air out (which is normally the hard part for asthmatics) and get enough good air in to replace it. I would die running if I tried in through the nose and out through the mouth.

5 Ros October 11, 2011 at 2:23 pm

I wrote a post on this under the running with asthma 101 tab! It’s almost impossible to breathe in through your nose, but it’s actually better because it acts as a humidifier. πŸ˜› However breathing out if you purse your lips it’s really helpful with expelling the air, like you said!
Ros recently posted..I’m not dead…sort of

6 Jen October 11, 2011 at 10:15 am

No tips, but I’m curious if anyone has tips for those with allergies and asthma… I have both and while they are pretty well controlled, I always tend to gas out when I try breathing in through my nose. I usually end up going the other way, in through my mouth and out through my nose.

7 kathleen @ the daily crumb October 11, 2011 at 10:25 am

breathing is such huge, but overlooked, part of running. i have always heard breath in for 4, hold for 2, breath out for 4. i was a swimmer growing up and you had to plan your breath pattern – breathing every 2 – 4 strokes. in running, though, i never thought about it. when i started consciously taking my breaths, runs became much, much easier.

8 Krystina (Organically Me) October 11, 2011 at 10:26 am

Great tips! I highly recommend yoga to help with breathing – it’s helped my breath techniques tremendously.
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9 Heather @ Better With Veggies October 11, 2011 at 11:12 am

The counting of steps (3 in, 3 out) was exactly what helped me when I started running – helped me tremendously! Great tips!
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10 Jessica @ Sushi and Sit-Ups October 11, 2011 at 11:19 am

This is really helpful! I have my breathing technique down when I’m doing weights and strength training. It’s easy for me to time my breaths with whatever reps I’m doing, but when I’m running, I’m kind of a breathing mess. I’m definitely going to use this technique!
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11 Corey @ Learning Patience October 11, 2011 at 11:20 am

I totally agree- when I 1st started running, I was always out of breath…then I read that you should be able to talk and run at the same time…so I slowed down. Then over time got faster and can still chat. I think sometimes people are too concerned with PB’s and such…when enjoying the process and running safely is SO much more important!

xoxo from Trinidad
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12 Erica @ For the Sake of Cake October 11, 2011 at 11:35 am

Love this post! I’m trying to get into running, so this will be helpful!
Erica @ For the Sake of Cake recently posted..Wordy Girl

13 Annette @ EnjoyYourHealthyLife October 11, 2011 at 12:41 pm

Yes, I totally sometimes do not breathe properly…..something I should work on on my next run!! Thanks!
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14 Ros October 11, 2011 at 2:21 pm

I did a post on this at my site, because as an asthmatic runner it’s even more important to breathe correctly while running. My big tip is to focus on breathing out, not up. You’re stomach should be moving in and out when you breathe rather than your shoulders moving up and down.
Ros recently posted..I’m not dead…sort of

15 Katie @ Peace Love and Oats October 11, 2011 at 3:14 pm

i definitely agree – just take a moment to focus on breathing and breath in through the nose and fill up with air rather than short little breaths!
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16 Christina October 11, 2011 at 7:45 pm

Thanks for writing about this – I can’t wait to try it out! Whenever I do go out and run, it’s always my breathing that stops me from enjoying it a lot, so I think these tips will really help. Loving the cruise recaps – we vacationed on the exact same ship last summer, so it’s bringing back lots of good memories. Enjoy the rest of your trip!!

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