Tired of feeling exhausted during your runs? While you’re working on building up your body’s endurance, don’t forget about your respiratory system! Your lungs have a lot more to do with your stamina than you may think.
“Runners think about training their heart and legs, but they rarely think about training their lungs," says Mindy Solkin, owner and head coach at The Running Center in New York City. “A strong respiratory system can improve your running. It's a simple equation: Better breathing equals more oxygen for your muscles, and that equals more endurance.”
If you’re hoping to step up your running, breathing properly can help. Here are a few ways that you can improve your breathing when you’re out on runs.
Breathe Through Your Mouth
Sure, it may seem a bit weird at first – especially if you’re used to breathing through your nose all the time – but when running, it’s important to take deep breaths of air, allowing the oxygen to flood your body. Breathing through your mouth is the best way to get plenty of air and keep your body moving forward.
Practice Diaphragmatic Breathing
Practice – what? Diaphragmatic breathing may sound like a fancy pilates move, but it’s not! Diaphragmatic breathing (also known as “belly breathing”) simply means deep breathing. When you breathe, your stomach should expand and contract to then expand again. Taking deep breaths instead of weak, shallow breaths like we normally do will help to flood your lungs with oxygen and give you the energy that you need.
Get Into a Rhythm
Studies show that inexperienced runners typically have no pattern to their breathing, and experienced runners tend to synchronize their breathing with their stride for efficiency and pacing. Your optimal breathing rhythm will depend on how hard you are running. Some experts say that for an easy run you should inhale every 3 or 4 steps, and then exhale for another 3 or 4. For an intense run, you’ll want to increase your breathing by inhaling once every 1 or 2 steps, and then exhaling for the same. For the best results, you’ll want to discover a stepping/breathing rhythm that works for you.
So there you go: three tips that will help you to breathe easily when you’re out on your runs. The next time you’re out running, put these tips into practice. Get yourself off to a running start!