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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 September 18, 2020

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

1. Exercise Daily

It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

3. Acknowledge Your Limits

Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

The basic nutritional advice includes:

  • Eat unprocessed foods
  • Eat more veggies
  • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
  • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

    5. Watch Out for Travel

    Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

    This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

    If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

    6. Start Slow

    Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

    If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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    7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

    Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

    My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

    If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

    I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

    Final Thoughts

    Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

    Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

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    Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

    Reference

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