Have you ever started your run and wondered who sucked all the air out of the atmosphere? You start gasping and you’re really not sure how ‘out of breath’ you can possibly get? Don’t worry, while it can be distressing if you’re just starting out, those initial feelings happen to even the most experienced of runners. Ben St. Lawrence, dual Olympian and Active8me running program coordinator shares 4 really simple tips to keep in mind about your breathing when you run.
1. Avoid shallow breathing and practise breathing deeply
Put your hand on your belly and do some practice breaths where you are drawing air deep into your torso. You can also attempt some short shallow breaths into the lungs to really see the difference (and know what to avoid). While running, try to remember how the deep breaths feel and bring your breathing back to those breaths.
2. Stay relaxed
Easier said than done, right? Think about where you are holding your muscles. Are your shoulders bunched up? Are your arms hugging your chest as you run? Is your neck rigid? Move through these parts of your body and consciously relax them. Release your shoulders, loosen your arms and allow your upper body muscles to work with you instead of against you so that your chest is open and free to expand.
3. Breathe mostly through your mouth and a little through your nose
You may have heard the common advice of ‘breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth’, but this is not useful in running. You can suck more air in through your mouth than your nose, so it is more efficient for filling your lungs with the oxygen that your muscles require.
4. Control your breathing
You can do this by counting the steps you take, as you breathe. For example, you may take two steps for one breath-in and two steps for one breath-out. You can mix it up, for what works for you. Ben personally does three steps for a breath-in and two for a breath-out during slower running. For his faster runs he takes two steps for a breath-in and one step for a breath-out, making the out breath more forceful. The key is to remain consistent. Controlling your breathing by maintaining an appropriate count across your run will allow you to get a lot further without getting out of breath.
Take a deep breath and enjoy your next run! If you want to learn to recover from your race like an Olympian, check out Ben’s 6 Best Race Recovery Tips!