Proper breathing affects your running condition. Experts say this technique will help you run faster, farther and longer-with less effort.
Breathing seems to be absolutely basic. You do it all the time, every day, usually completely without reflection. But if you’re looking for a simple way to make running easier, it’s time to approach breathing in a more conscious way.
Chest breathing: not the best choice
Most of us automatically breathe through our chest all the time, ” says Belisa Vranich, Ph. D., clinical psychologist and author of breathing for Warriors. “It may be natural for you, but when you inhale with your chest, you are not using the full potential of your lungs and you need to breathe faster to replenish your oxygen supply,” explains Vranich.
- What happens when you breathe through your chest while running? “You’re not giving your muscles enough oxygen,” explains Chris Bennett (aka Coach Bennett), senior director of Nike running global.
- Worse,”when we feel that we lack air, we automatically take more breaths, which makes them shallower.” Because of this, everything seems more difficult, so we often press the brake earlier than we would like.
Abdominal breathing: better breathing
Vranich, like many yogis and meditation instructors, is a proponent of a technique known as diaphragmatic breathing, or abdominal breathing. It involves performing “horizontal” inhales and exhalations using the diaphragm, a muscle located below the lungs. During abdominal breathing, the diaphragm opens and closes like an umbrella, giving the lungs even more room for oxygen, especially at the bottom of the ribs-the area of the lungs most rich in oxygen.
Since a single belly breath provides the same amount of oxygen as several shallow breaths, according to Vranich, this is a more efficient way of breathing. “If you are able to use this technique while running, your muscles will receive a solid dose of oxygen, and this will make it easier for you to increase the pace or distance,” says Vranich.
“Abdominal breathing makes you take deeper breaths and exhalations. So it is crucial to reduce heart rate, ” says coach Bennett. This explains why it is a staple in yoga exercises-many studies also indicate that it can be a way to deal with symptoms of anxiety, depression and insomnia.
That’s why coach Bennett focuses on breathing when he feels like he’s losing control. “If at any point you feel pain or start to panic, the best way to calm down and get back to running is to take a few deep breaths,” he says. If diaphragmatic breathing does not come naturally to you, it will not be a technique that will help you break the record for 10 km (after all, who is able to focus on performing deep abdominal breaths when fighting for the best time?). However, this method will allow you to regain control of the course-both physically and mentally-if you have a crisis.
“If at any time you feel pain or start to panic, the best way to calm down and get back to running is to take a few deep breaths.”