Breathe While You Run

One of the most important aspects of running is proper breathing techniques. Running is exhilarating and most people only think about running in terms of leg motion and perhaps a little guidance with arms. Taking in enough oxygen when you run helps you run for a longer time, more effectively and with less stress.

It is easy and natural to get out of breath when you run. Oxygen is the fuel for your body to perform exercise. When you exercise, your muscles need oxygen and your body sends more oxygenated blood to the muscles, making the lungs work harder to suck in more oxygen from the air. Hence, you can quickly get out of breath as your lungs are working harder while your muscles demand more oxygen. Be sure to run at a good pace where you can breathe more easily. Pace yourself so that you can easily talk with fellow runners. If you find that you cannot maintain a conversation while you run, slow down to a pace where you can.

Breathing well is important when you run because you enable a good, smooth flow of oxygen to your muscles, thus increasing your stamina and ability to cover long distances. You will also feel more comfortable and enjoy running more, which in turn, will enable you to maintain your workout more easily.

How do you breathe well? Breathing properly is very easy. You can have any kind of breathing pattern that works for you. Breathing from your mouth is better than out of your nose because you take in more oxygen, while letting out carbon dioxide. Breathing through your mouth also relaxes your facial muscles unlike breathing out of your nose, which will cause your facial muscles and jaw to tighten up. You can let your jaw fall open slightly as your lips part, taking in and expelling out fresh air.

Breathe short and shallow. You can take in several deep inhalations when you are running up a hill or feeling out of breath but keep your breathing pattern swift so that you can keep going. Avoid forcing yourself to breathe longer or harder. You should be comfortable in your breathing pattern. Your rhythm of breathing is also important. Keep inhaling and exhaling at a rate that is consistent for you, regardless of what speed you run at. Pay attention and find out what your own unique natural breathing pattern it is. Listen to your breathing. If you find that you are breathing too hard, you are running too fast for your current health condition. Slow down and adjust your running to your comfort level. You can practice by slowing down your breathing as you run at a slower pace. Gradually pick up the speed and employ faster strides to challenge yourself, while monitoring your breath.

You can check what your natural breathing pattern is by counting the number of steps you can run in a breath. For some runners, it is two steps and for others it is three steps. Keep your breathing regular whatever your pattern is and pay attention to steps or other intervals to help you monitor your breathing rate.

Breathe out of your belly as much as you can instead of your chest. If you are not sure how that feels, try lying down on your back and paying attention to your stomach. You will see it rise and fall while your chest stays stable. Try to maintain this while you run. By paying attention through breathing via your belly, you can over time develop a toned and flatter abdominal midsection because your muscles will be doing an isometric contraction.

By breathing well, you can develop good endurance, decrease stress, and promote a healthy lifestyle for yourself. Paying attention to your breath will encourage you to be more fit while having greater energy when you run.

Michele is a fitness expert with a Master of Science in Physical Education and Dance, and 28 years of industry teaching experience. A former professional dancer and choreographer in New York and Seattle, she has owned Balance since 1995 and was a principle in Twist Conditioning, San Francisco. Michele is also a Trainer for Fitness Anywhere, teaching the TRX system to trainers and group fitness instructors all over the US. She is a member of the College of Marin Health and Fitness Advisory Board and is on the faculty at The College of Marin. Michele lectures for corporations and other groups on how to make fitness and health a priority in our lives. “Small Steps Bring Big Achievements” is available to all corporate groups. She can be reached at
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