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29856 Views 38 Replies Latest reply: Mar 5, 2014 6:15 PM by AmieVacca RSS Go to original post 1 2 3 Previous Next
  • shipo Legend 455 posts since
    Aug 9, 2013

    Regarding the nose breathing thing...


    There is a guy on my company running club who tells all of the newbies to breathe in through their noses and out through their mouths.  I've heard others tell folks to only use their noses (like what was suggested to you); either way, I have to call shenanigans on that advice.  When you breathe in, do so in whatever feels most comfortable; I use both my nose and my mouth for both inhaling and exhaling; some folks use just their mouths.

  • jlevro Rookie 1 posts since
    May 17, 2008

    As I understand things, nose breathing generates a different physiological response than mouth breathing. This is discussed in "Body, Mind, and Sport" by Dr. John Douillard. He recommends a nose-breathing technique where one adds a bit of "resistance" to the breathing cycle by making what he calls a "Darth Vader" sound. I.e. you sort of close down your throat a bit. This is an Ayurvedic relaxation technique.


    Mouth breathing is shallow and tends to induce a "fight or flight" response, resulting in a [relatively] rapid heart and respiration rate. Nose breathing with "Darth Vader" resistance forces movement of the diaphragm, which relaxes the body and mind. Breathing becomes deeper and slower.


    Theory aside, all I can say is that it works for me. I've been doing this type of breathing for about 10 years now. Running has become much more meditative and relaxed, which in my mind is what it's all about. That "one size fits all" advice of "in for 3 strides, out for 2" would pretty much be my 5K pace.


    FWIW, I'm old (64), small (5'8", 142lbs) and fairly fast for an old guy, so YMMV.But check out Douillard's book. It's a fascinating read.

  • shipo Legend 455 posts since
    Aug 9, 2013

    It seems to be that theories abound regarding every aspect of running, I've been running off and on for over 40 years, and I've yet to ever once see any substance to the "Mouth Breathing = Fight or Flight" theory.  The fact is, breathing through one's nose will only allow them to intake a fraction of air for any given time compared to mouth or combine mouth/nose breathing, and that in turn will dramatically limit one's pace.


    In the extremely rare event that I'm going slow enough, yeah, I breathe through my nose, however, what constitutes "slow enough" has changed over the years; once when I was in high school a rival track team boxed me in for the entire first mile of a 2-mile event, when we crossed the line to begin the fifth lap our time was 4:51 and I was still breathing through my nose.  I decided I'd had enough of the being boxed in thing; I slowed down until I broke the box, opened my mouth, cut over and passed the lot of them, my second mile, breathing through both mouth and nose was 4:31.



    I just found a great thread/debate on this very topic over on the Let's Run forum


    My favorite quote from 800 Coach 72:

    • I've also heard this crap before. "Breath through your nose" Only non-runners talk this kind of nonsense.
  • AbelRunner5 Rookie 3 posts since
    Dec 15, 2012

    I used to have real problems controlling my breathing, too.  I bought a book by Budd Coates called "Running on Air" that discusses the aforementioned "inhale 3 steps, exhale 2 steps".  There are several reasons for this breathing pattern, too lengthy to go into here. But it has worked for me. I focus more on my breathing count and do less gasping for breath. While some may scoff, it costs you nothing to just TRY IT.  When you are running faster, or up hills, you can change your count to inhale 2 steps, exhale 1 step.  The point is to keep the count at an odd number. I recommend just getting used to this as you walk around. Take a few long walks and practice this until it gets to be an easy habit. Then incorporate it into your running.  I've found I can go much farther.  You will still have times you get winded and need to slow down, as you start. But those will gradually lessen. Remember - it costs you nothing just to try it.

  • shipo Legend 455 posts since
    Aug 9, 2013

    Unless an individual is gasping for air or suffering from another breathing anomoly, why bother restricting your breathing to any pattern at all?  I really don't see the point.


    FWIW, since this thread has popped up, I've monitored my breathing just to see what it is that I do; and guess what?  Unless I'm really pushing the pace, there is no pattern at all, even on relatively flat terrain.  It kind of goes like this:

    • 4 steps in, 2 steps out
    • 2 steps in, 1 step out
    • 3 steps in, 1 step out
    • 3 steps in, 5 steps out
    • 6 steps no breathing (need to swallow or clear my nose or something)
    • 3 steps in, 2 steps out


    When I pick the pace up I typically take inhale for 1 or 2 steps and exhale for 1 step.  Even counts, odd counts; it matters not.

  • flamomof3 Legend 1,927 posts since
    Dec 14, 2007

    I started running at 40. I started and stoped until this year, I'm 45 and will be 46 in December. I started training for a half marathon in October. I'm using Half 12 week for beginers and like you I also got winded when I first started training. I learned to slow myself down!  I'm on week 7and I run 5 days a week. I only get winded if I run to fast so just remember to slow it down.

  • shipo Legend 455 posts since
    Aug 9, 2013

    maria klawitter wrote:


    I only get winded if I run to fast so just remember to slow it down.


  • RLBlunt8384 Amateur 20 posts since
    Jan 7, 2014

    You should slow down and let your breathing get into a rythem naturally..Try to relax yourelf.  I remember in wrestling practice at 14 years old when I was really challenging my body for the first time I choked up and could not breath for what seemed like a full minute.  As I learned over time is it was all phycological..Your body knows when to breath.  If you run slow or walk fast you will teach your lungs how to get into a rhythem and it will be all subconcious.  Then once you can handle that pace think about stepping it up.  It is all phycological.  There is no way you can count your breaths and steps for miles on end and enjoy the experience.  Just let your body do what it does naturally.  It will adapt.

  • SydnieS Rookie 4 posts since
    May 3, 2008

    Best breathing advice / tip ever....  In runners magazine early 2013... Basically it is a 3:2 inhale to exhale... Inhale 3 steps right left right and exhale 2 steps. The inhale should be thru both nose and mouth and exhale thru mouth. It takes some practice but it helped me a ton!  This breathing cadence does several things:  1) helps prevent injury.... Using this technique you alternate legs on impact on the inhale..  My own experience... I always had issues with my right side on longer runs.. IT issues, hip issues etc... When I started experimenting with this technique I realized that my natural cadence was always inhaling on my right side impact...... Much more stress on muscles and tendons when you land on the inhale... After perfecting the technique I no longer had any right side issues... Also this technique keeps you from running to hard... As long as can maintain your cadence3:2 you stay in a consistent pace... Lastly it is very effective towards the end of a long run or race when you are fatigued... Focussing on the breathing takes Your focus from the pain... Lastly much more efficient oxygen to your brain and muscles resulting in Better endurance and times. As I said it takes a month or so to perfect... Start inside on a treadmill first or just standing to get the feel.  It's clumsy at first but well worth the time. Good luck

  • Billy137 Amateur 14 posts since
    Feb 8, 2012

    After reading all the comments on here, I have to agree with Shipo.  There are too many "revolutionary" ways to make you run better.  But all those ways are from people trying to make money by selling their book or article or products or whatever.  Not saying that all these things don't work, but just know that their main goal is to sell their product.  That being said, I did start focusing on breathing on some runs and tend to do a 2 step in and 2 step out breathing.  I don't focus on that for an entire run but at some points like at the beginning of races when my anxiety is high and my breathing is high, I force myself into a groove by focusing on that rather than the run just to get my run started.  But I think do what's best for you and stop overthinking it.  You don't want to push yourself to exhaustion every time you run.  Know the difference between a training run and a race run.  Don't be so focused on your time, especially when you first start out, just focus on getting the run in and you will get faster over time. 

  • carelessruns Rookie 4 posts since
    Jan 22, 2014

    i wonder how people overthink about things that should come naturally to you. isnt breathing something that we do 24 hours a day, and from much before we were born, from our mother's womb . in this age of advertising and commercalized running operations, one should just focus on the pure joy of childlike running, which we grownups have forgotten for long.


  • lenzlaw Community Moderator 10,389 posts since
    Jan 18, 2008

    Some people have problems starting out because they think they have to run fast and they don't pace themselves.    Pacing, slowing down, can be a hard lesson to learn for some beginners.


  • justamaniac Legend 189 posts since
    May 30, 2007

    This is probably one of the longer topics in a while....:-)

    Lenzlaw hit it right:  pace oneself. 

    Breathing is a natural event and everyone breathes differently. Those folks that are blessed with great athletisism will want to hone their breathing skills to maximize their energy consumption and endurance. For the rest of us, just slow down, don't overdue your pace, and just breathe (it will happen naturally ! )



  • JerryX Legend 851 posts since
    Jan 18, 2008

    Do what's natural and slow down is good advice.


    I am surprised no one mentioned breathing in the stomach instead of the chest.  Before i started meditating i found that taking a big breath involved trying to expand the chest.  The best way to take a big breath is to expand the belly...i also found it a good way to eliminate stomach cramps, really expanding the belly when taking a breath and not expanding the chest.  happy running!

    Happy Running!

  • Greenbelt9 Amateur 10 posts since
    Sep 19, 2010

    Have to laugh at all of these replies (though there is some good info); missed one of the most important aspects of breathing for runners: breathe deeper when you need to.  If your breathing is too shallow all the time it doesn't matter what you do you will get winded. 

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