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6 Tips On Breathing While Running

6 Tips On Breathing While Running

I’ve been an avid runner for about two years now. It was the best change I’ve ever made to my life. Now I’m always looking for ways to improve my performance.

Imagine the surprise when I found out that you can boost your stamina just by optimizing how you breathe while running! At first, you might think this is an obvious revelation to come to, but to be honest, the last thing you’re thinking about while running is, “Am I breathing correctly?”

Indeed, when first starting, you’re more worried about not straining a muscle or pushing yourself too hard. It isn’t until you become a regular runner that you seek out ways to improve your daily jaunts. It isn’t until then that you really think about breathing. At least, I didn’t.

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Which is shame, because had I known the proper breathing techniques from the get go, I would have been far better off. Indeed, if you’re breathing the wrong way while running, you could be starving your muscles of oxygen, wasting precious energy, and unknowingly giving yourself asthma-like symptoms.

But perhaps more importantly, you could be holding yourself back from achieving new running-related milestones!

Aside from bettering your endurance and performance the advice contained within this article will also help you combat some negative experiences you may encounter on your run – such as piercing your lungs with cold air.

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With luck, the information below will keep you from making the same breathing mistakes I’ve been making the past few years.

1. Breathe Deeply.

Common sense, right? Well, maybe not. It turns out that most runners are, unsurprisingly, concerned more about developing their heart and legs than their lungs. That’s a mistake of course, as “better breathing equals more oxygen for your muscles, and that equals more endurance.” So, next time you’re out on a run, make a conscious effort to take deliberately deep breaths. When I tried this, I found that my breaths were previously far too shallow.

2. Use Your Nose But Not Only Your Mouth!

Apparently, one of the most common mistakes runners make is that they breathe solely through their mouths instead of through their mouth and nose, the former of which isn’t as effective at filling your lungs with air. As a certified mouth-breather (while running at least), I put this theory to the test a few days ago. To my surprise, taking in more air through my nose did make a noticeable difference. My lungs filled up with far more air than usual, and I felt like I had way more energy as a result. I think I cut about three minutes off my three mile time just by breathing deeply through my nose instead of mouth-breathing. That’s pretty impressive in my book.

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3. Adjust To Varying Weather Conditions.

Another benefit of using your nose to breath is that it makes it easier to run in cold weather. Why’s that? Well, icy winter air warms quicker when filtered through your nose, which not only feels better but lessens the shock to your lungs. So, if you want to make running just a bit easier this winter season, make sure your nose is free of any obstructions and ready to take in air before going on your run. Your lungs will thank you, especially since exposure to air that’s too cold while running can cause asthma-like symptoms.

4. Concentrate On Your Rhythm.

I don’t want to over-complicate running too much for you, but if you want to maximize your performance, it’s best to time your breathing with the pace you’re going at. When combined with step number one, you’ll become a far more effective runner. Indeed, Doctor David Ross of UCLA’s Medical Center states that focusing on taking measured, rhythmic breaths while running can help strengthen your diaphragm, thereby delivering more oxygen to your muscles over time.

5. Use Music As A Guide.

I find that listening to music helps to keep everything aligned properly while running. Pick a few songs that play at around the same speed, and try and match your stride and breath to the beat. If it’s going too quickly for you, find a slower song, or vice versa if you want a challenge. Sure, you can try timing your breath and pace without a song, but this method makes it much easier and allows you to focus on other things while getting your run in.

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6. Be A Belly Breather.

Most of us are chest breathers while running, and I’m no exception. According to New York-based running coach Mindy Solkin; however, that’s a huge mistake. She states, “when you chest breathe, your shoulders get tense and move up and down, [which is] wasted energy–energy you should conserve for running.” It makes sense when you think about it. An easy test is to just place your right hand over your chest, and your left over your belly. When you breathe, your left hand should rise, and your right should stay put. Try and practice this technique while at rest, and then apply it while on a run. With luck, you’ll be absorbing more oxygen than you were before, and wasting less energy while doing so, resulting in less fatigue while you’re doing your cardio routine. That’s really all there is to it! With luck, this information was news to you (as it was to me), and you’ll be able to get a bit more out of your next run. See you on the trails!

Featured photo credit: Run Start/ Elvert Barnes via flickr.com

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Last Updated on December 9, 2019

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

1. Get Rationally Optimistic

Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

The result: no more mental stress.

2. Unplug

Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

3. Easy on the Caffeine

Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

  • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
  • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
  • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

The result: mental stress will be gone!

So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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