Spring is finally here!!!
Runners everywhere rejoice, until they move on to complaining about how suddenly it’s become harder to breathe due to all of the pollen and soon humidity!
Let’s dive in to things that can help improve your breathing on every run whether it’s Spring, Summer, Fall or more of the dreaded winter.
CAUSES OF BREATHING ISSUES
If I had a dollar for everyone who has ever told me that they can’t figure out why it’s so hard to breathe while running…I’d probably buy a couple new pairs of running shoes.
So what is it that actually makes it hard for us to breathe?
- Fitness – We develop more lung capacity as we train
- Speed – Many runners start out too fast and the body isn’t yet ready for that speed or simply requires more oxygen to maintain that pace (in other words, slow down!)
- Exercise-induced Asthma – If you find yourself wheezing or struggling to breathe, check with a doctor to see if this is the case, they can find options to help!
- Allergies – Checkout 12 more tips to manage spring allergies for runners >>
WHY IT MATTERS
Maybe you’ve always had a hard time breathing while running or you never thought much about improving your breathing…so why should you care?
- Perceived effort – We’ve talked about how running is a mental sport and each time your breathing becomes labored your brain immediately begins warning you to stop.
- Decreased fatigue – Muscles run on oxygen, that’s one of the reasons trainers used to spend time measuring VO2 max. It told them how much oxygen muscles were receiving and therefore gave them means to improve. Better breathing means getting more oxygen flowing to your muscles as the workload increases.
- Improved performance – As noted above with less fatigued muscles you’ll be able to run farther and faster! You’ll also see below how Budd Coates swears it reduces injury, which means more consistent training and once again that leads to improved performance!
Once you’ve got your allergies under control and have ensured you are running at a pace that is manageable, there are still a few more tips and tricks to improve your breathing while running.
Chi Running says to breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth as though blowing through a straw. This keeps the flow slow and steady.
— This method I’ve used for ages and find that it feels the most natural. It prevents us from taking big gulps of air through our mouth which leads to over breathing and sometimes hyperventilation.
Allergies or poor form? Tips to improve your breathing while running from @runtothefinish #runchat
Meditation runners say to use what you learn in your practice by keeping a slow and easy breathe pattern. In other words, try to focus on your breathing and let it be natural.
— I have actually found this to be really helpful! I think about how calm my breathe is during yoga and try to replicate that feeling when my lungs begin to burn during speed work.
Running on Air from Budd Coates provides one of the best systems I’ve heard of and in fact tried. While it does take some practice and concentration at first, it can certainly make breathing easier for runners who struggle with this and of course make you faster by delivering more oxygen!
You need to read the book to fully understand his system, but at the highest level it is as follows:
Breathe in for 3 steps and out for 2 steps.
Tips for managing your breathing while running:
- Start the run without a focus on breathe. Let your body get in to a natural rhythm.
- Distract yourself with music if necessary to stop thinking about your breathing (this is often the best way to find a rhythm!)
- Don’t spend the entire run focused on it. Just as you check in with your form, check in with your breathing.
- Do breathe exercises when not running to increase your lung capacity! You could cross train with swimming or do moves like Cat/Cow from yoga.
Do you focus on your breathing?
Have you ever tried to change your breathing style while running?
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