3 Breathing Techniques All Runners Need
We breathe during every moment of every day, so the idea of practicing breathing may seem strange. But all runners, regardless of age, fitness level and experience, can benefit from practicing proper breathing techniques.
When you run, your muscles and cells depend on the constant delivery of oxygen and expulsion of carbon dioxide (gas exchange!) to keep moving. Proper breathing also ensures proper muscular function of the diaphragm , which is key for stabilizing your pelvis for better running form. And last but not least, your ability to breathe properly helps to regulate your nervous system, which means you can run calmly and in control even when things get tough.
So if breathing is a struggle for you, whether you’re just starting to run or during hard efforts, these three breathing techniques from Coach Nate will help keep you comfortable on your next run.
1. Breathing in and out through your nose
The first technique is to breathe exclusively in and out through your nose. This forces you to stand taller, activate your diaphragm and breathe into your belly. Try it for 3 to 5 minutes and run as slowly as you need to.
Nose breathing will be the most challenging but also the most important for you to master. Try to make nose breathing your default while walking, working, and reading articles like this.
2. Breathing in through your nose
and out through your mouth
The second technique is to breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth, because you can’t breathe exclusively through your nose all the time. This technique is great for long runs and runs where you’re picking up the pace to a moderate effort
Even taking ten to 20 breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth mid-run can provide a helpful reset to your breathing mechanics.
3. Breathing in and out through your mouth
The final technique is to exclusively breathe in and out through your mouth – but with a catch! Mouth breathing is the default technique for most runners but, if practiced too much, it can lead to bad habits like breathing more through the chest and the shoulders than your diaphragm. Breathing this way can lead to side stitches, poor pelvic stability, an elevated heart rate and more erratic, panicked breaths.
When you breathe in and out through your mouth, make sure you’re still breathing deeply into your belly and diaphragm. Mouth breathing is great for harder race efforts when you’re really pushing as it allows you to take in as much air as possible, but it should only be used for when things get difficult.
Which breathing pattern do you default to and which are you most excited to try? Write them down and make a plan to practice each technique for at least five minutes on your next run.