When we look at the question how to breathe when running, we need to consider the role of the air that we breathe in and what its main purpose is. One of the main purposes of breathing is to supply the working muscles with freshly oxygenated blood to allow the muscles to contract continuously. The extent to which this happens will vary depending on the intensity of the exercise that is being participated in. Situations such as running in low temperatures and running very fast will have a bearing on the way you need to breathe.
One thing you must concentrate on doing is to breathe as deeply as possible because this fills the lungs as fully as possible. Think about breathing down to the depths of your belly so that you can feel your tummy rise and fall with each breath, not only your chest.
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Sorry "aficionado" but this is terrible advice. Runners, don't try to breathe as deeply as possible.
You want to focus on breathing as normally as possible. Don't focus on any one breath rate or depth of breathing. What this recommendation is forgetting is that it's equally important to expel CO2 as you're inhaling air. Breathing too deeply is just going to slow down this process.
Agreed Jason. It is a mistake to focus on breathing in "as deeply as possible" when running. In fact, breathing in too hard can irritate the lungs and be a trigger for people with asthma. Controlled, rythmic, and relaxed breathing is the best way to get the maximum amount of oxygen. One of the best ways to breathe is to focus on the exhale instead of the inhale. The body will naturally inhale what it needs after a proper exhale gets rid of the excess CO2. You will seriously lower your oxygen intake if you are wildly inhaling without ensuring a proper exhale.
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Do either of you have any advice for someone who gets major whole-torso "sideaches"? I am plagued by them-they always start on my right side and about half the time, spread up to my ribs, then collar bone, then the entire ribcage area feels like it's got a million knives ripping it apart AND like a vise cinching me. I've had 4 babies without pain meds of any kind, and I can NO run through this sideache when it progresses to the "whole torso" stage.
Any advice? I'm about to dive back into running and would LOVE to have a way to escape this issue.
Jenn / BradenMommyof5
Hey Braden - that sounds really intense. I haven't experienced a side stitch like that.
Side stitches are usually caused by eating too close to your run, drinking too much water, or not warming up enough. But honestly, there's no hard evidence for why people experience them in the first place.
Try warming up and doing core exercises (I wrote a lengthy post on my Dynamic Warm-ups and Core Exercises) which many believe to help. You can also try to start slower and relax your breathing.
Here is some articles about breathing while your running.
This utube post is about getting rid of a side stitch:
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THANK YOU so much!!!!!! I'm going to check every single one of those links out! I appreciate you all taking the time to answer my question. Hopefully I'll find something that helps 'cause those sideaches suck! ha ha
Have a wonderful day, and thanks again!!!
Jenn / BradenMommyof5
Looks like I'm a little late to the discussion!
Dr. Jack Daniels, one of the leading experts on running has some recommendations in his book that I agree with. Here's a link to the cheat sheet - http://www.runningforums.com/articles/Proper_Breathing_for_Runners_a7_f0.html
As far as side stitches, a friend who has run 20 straight Boston Marathons recommended getting as deep a breath as possible (multiple attempts) while running a race...and it worked for me!
This is not scientific, just from my own experience. Sometimes I'll get side stitches like you describe when I'm running, and it's not from eating or drinking too close to exercise. I don't know if it's possibly related to CO2 build-up, but I find that if I slow down just a little bit and focus on exhaling as completely as possible, the side stitch will go away rather quickly.
kaneb80: thanks for the tip! i've always felt discouraged running after experiencing stiches in my sides (usually my left). Will give this a try though! thanks
I also read somewhere (a long time ago) to try to focus on breathing in and out of your stomach. As a former musician I was trained to breathe in a way that's very bad for running. So I slow down my breathing, and sort of think of trying to fill my stomach with air (this is not what is happening really, but helps me to visualize and make sure I'm getting the right kind of breathing in) and then like others have said, make sure you exhale fully. A few of these breaths and my side stitches go away pretty quickly. Only trouble is keeping it up all during the run when they keep coming back, but at least it gives me something else to focus on for a few!
C25k Completed 08/19/11
OHR Completed 10/23/11
5k 09/24/11: 39:10
2011: 280 miles, ~14:00 mm avg
2012: 321.2 miles (so far)
When I'm pushing it and breathing hard I've had no success trying to breathe deeper, either in or out. I do find purposely trying to calm down helps a little (as long as I don't slow down, too).
Trying to do what Jack Daniels suggests and inhale and exhale in sync with your footsteps would simply drive me crazy!
Education 5k ..........................................................:.25:39
Mayapple trail 21 mi .................................................4:10
_Miles - I was taught both as a musician and as a runner to breathe with the diaphragm (breathe into the belly, not into the chest). In fact every instruction I've seen on breathing properly has always emphasized that the belly should move as much or more than the chest,and the shoulders shouldn't move at all. How were you taught to breathe as a musician?
ron6788: I actually find it easier to breathe in sync with my steps, the whole body is then in a nice synchronized rhythm.(Well, I haven't checked if my heartbeat synchronizes or not!) I usually breathe 2 steps in, 2 steps out. Sometimes on an easy (warmup) segment I'll try breathing 3 steps in, 3 steps out, but that takes concentration. If I'm breathing out of sync with my footsteps while running it usually means I'm in distress...
I find that if I am thinking about my breathing while running, then I have a problem. If I just relax, think about other things, and let the breathing take care of itself, then I'm fine. Not exactly scientific, but it's true for me.
Rhonda, I do like you, but I have various breathing patterns that I employ during a run. My preferred breathing pattern in 3-2. Ron would really go crazy with that one! On hills or when I am pretty tired and laboring, I'll use 3-1. I don't used 2-2 much anymore. My theory is to get as much oxygen as possible (3 steps), and exhale as much as possible.
I like 3-2 because I am not on the same foot with every exhale...just in case I am landing harder when I begin to exhale. Before I tried it, I thought that I would surely get confused , but I did not. It also gave me some confidence when I was preparing for my first 10k.