How to Control Your Breathing When Running

When running, your whole system is doing its best to keep your body running and heart pumping blood to your working muscles; breathing ensures your body’s functions. Therefore, it is essential to learn how to regulate your breathing while running; otherwise, you will get out of breath and obstruct your training performance.

Here some tips and strategies so your breathing does not get out of control. Thus you can get the most out of your training program.

Step 1: Nose or mouth?
The best way to breath should in through the nose and out through the mouth. Exhaling through the mouth removes carbon dioxide from your body and stimulates relaxation and concentration. Inhaling through the nose ensures the maximum delivery of oxygen into your blood stream. When running, your body needs as much oxygen as it can get.

Step 2: Rhythmic breathing
Many runners hold their breath or forget to breathe properly when running; this can be a bit of a challenge. The best way to solve this is through rhythmic breathing; also known as breathing cadence, it helps you regulate your breathing and keeps it a steady tempo.

If you are a beginner, you could try a 3:2 breathing cadence, this means that you take three steps on the inhale, and two steps on each exhale. Of course, the ratio depends entirely on the intensity of training and your fitness level.

Step 3: Deep breathing
When running, sooner or later, your body will beg for oxygen, this deprivation will slow you down, causing fatigue and side stitches. You can tackle this by taking some deep breaths can reduce this lack of oxygen, and ensure the proper functioning of your body. But sometimes, you may need to slow or walk briskly to catch a breath and recover.

Chest breathing does not allow deep breathing; instead, you should get your diaphragm involved in the process. Diaphragm breathing will not only enhance your athletic performance, but it will enrich the quality of your life.

Step 4: Relax
A tensed body is more likely to get out of breath fast and tire soon; therefore relaxation can lessen tremendously the workload on your lungs and cardiovascular system. When the body is relaxed, you focus heightens and your running performance gets through the roof.

Tension is an unconscious process; it happens on its own; you don’t even need to think about it. But relaxation is a conscious process, meaning that you need to practice it throughout the workout.

The technique described here will work well for anyone who finds themselves wasting energy and becoming uncomfortable with the whole ‘breathing thing’ when under intense physical pressure or the nerves which often kick in during competitive sport.

It has been used to help train runners in particular who need to remain calm in the face of danger and panic. It can be quite horrible and requires a lot of self-discipline and will power but works a treat! The method and the exercises are open to adaptation depending on your sport’s requirements and skill levels fitness but the principles remain.

The idea is that in you control how much rest you get between sets of a particular, full body, exercise. Full body exercises are required to rapidly shoot your pulse and breathing rate upwards. You perform ten reps of a given exercise then rest for ten breaths. How long the rest lasts depends on your ability to slow your breathing and remain calm!

You then repeat but with only nine reps and nine breaths. The process continues until you perform one breath and one rep!

Below is a sample session I have personally used. Obviously, the weights used should be adjusted according to the individual. A good guide for weight selection is 40-60% of your one repetition max for the exercise in question – you should be able to move the weights quickly.
Push jerk with 2x24kg kettlebells ten reps, ten slow breaths, nine reps, nine slow breaths, etc. down to 1
Rest 90 seconds
As above using 60 kg barbell front squat
Rest 90 seconds
As above using 2x28kg kettlebells swing
Pre-requisites for this type of ‘panic training.’
– High level of competence in the exercises to be performed
– Will power and pain tolerance
– A partner may be useful to prevent sneaky extra breaths!
Don’t expect an easy ride on this one and make sure you’re fresh before trying it!
Remember, the harder the training is, the easier the actual event gets.

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