I am a newbie runner, working on the C25K. I am just starting week 3.
Does anyone have any suggestions on how to breath while running. While this sounds ridiculous, I am breathing obviously, the breaths tend to be shallow and not deep. My entire core tenses up as I run, making it difficult for me. I am a singer, so I am used to forcing the breath into my diaphram and not my lungs. I have been trying to breath in through my nose and out my mouth and using slow steady breaths. It is fine for the first few runs, but about half way through I start to feel like I am not breathing right and start to get winded.
Help please. I need suggestions. Am I going about this all wrong?
This question gets asked a lot here. There is no special "trick" to breathing while running, it is just a matter of increasing your aerobic fitness level to the point that you can run without shortness of breath. When your VO2 max increases, breathing during running will get easier. When you get "winded", you need to slow down! That means you are exceeding the capacity of your cardiovascular system to deliver the oxygen you need. You're only to be able to run as far and as fast as your body can carry oxygen to your muscles and that totally depends on your cardiovascular fitness. Although you can and should be doing intervals of a higher perceived effort - in other words 2-3 minutes at a time of a pace where you are breathing hard but not out of breath - you should be doing most of your workout at a comfortable pace where you can talk in short sentences without too much effort. The combination of the sustainable pace along with the intervals is what will help you get in shape. Again, it just takes time so stick with your program and in a few weeks you will begin to see a difference.
Mary's response is quite right for someone like yourself who is just starting off. From my experience with racing everything from 5K's to 100-mile ultra marathons, I've had plenty of opportunities to focus on my breath work. I saw the biggest improvement in my running after I started practing yoga and learning how to connect my breath with my movement. I learned how to breath in through my nose (like you mentioned) and fully inflate my lungs, but then to push that breath down into my legs where it was also needed. This may sound a little far-fetched but it took a while to figure this out and I still have to consciously remind myself to breath into my legs, so keep at it and keep breathing!
A couple of additional suggestions:
Continue to breath with your diaphram, but don't just breath out, blow out. Unlike in singing where the in breath is quick and deep but the out breath must be controlled, the goal of breathing out while running is to exchange the most possible air. One thing to practice while not running would be to tighten your abdominals and still breath with your diaphram (Yes, this is possible). In order to control my breathing I count steps: In for three(or 2 or 4) steps, out for three(or 2 or 4) steps, don't hold your breath. I don't tend to agree with the "in through nose, out through mouth" advice, I breath in and out through both.
Good for you to get out there and go. Fairly new to running myself I have had success with counting and coordinating breathing to footfalls (most of the time)! Breath in to four count, out to four count. If going too fast or running out of air on an uphill stretch I concentrate on blowing out hard to a quicker rhythm for a few breaths. If I forcefully get rid of the "bad air" pulling in enough "good air" seems to take care of itself. If becoming winded, slow down...even walk a bit until you feel sufficiently recovered and under control to continue. huffing and puffing is OK, but not gasping for air. Good Luck
I think what JimFive said is likely most relevant: "Unlike in singing where the in breath is quick and deep but the out breath must be controlled, the goal of breathing out while running is to exchange the most possible air." In other words, breathe out as quickly as you breathe in. You may be controlling the exhale too much. As others mentioned, most of us breathe in and out for a certain number of footfalls. 2 in and 2 out is very common but certainly not the only count. Do what works for you. Same for breathing through the nose and/or mouth. I can't get enough air if I inhale only through my nose, so I use my mouth for in and out. Others are fine inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth.
Practice makes perfect when it comes to breathing. It is also an evolving process the more fit you become and the longer distances you run.
There are a lot of great suggestions here. I agree with JimFive that counting can help to control your breathing and develop a rhythm, especially early on. Over time, it becomes more automatic.
I am also a singer, so I would also suggest using your singing breathing to your benefit. Breathing from deep within your diaphragm helps you center your core, which you will need to rely on even more the longer you run and the more fatigued you get. Also, a lot of the postural techniques in singing can be beneficial for running too. Just some thoughts.
Hope that helps. Good luck!
For me, uncoordinated spaz that I am, "counting breaths and coordinating them with my footfalls" just ain't gonna happen! It may happen naturally, but if I think about it and try to do it, I get messed up. But when I first started back running and getting in shape, one thing that helped was to consciously take a few deep breaths and then blow it out when I was at a high effort - like running up a hill. I don't know how to explain it scientifically but it did seem to give me greater oxygen exchange and help expand my lung capacity. I just did what came naturally and it seemed to work. Unless you are a high performance athlete, I think for the most part your breathing pretty much takes care of itself as you get in shape, without having to worry too much about exactly HOW you do it.
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