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    Fern's Avatar
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    Question Breathing while running

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    I have signed up to do the warrior dash this summer, I have never been a runner but I always wanted to try so I figure this is the perfect opportunity. The problem is I cant figure out how to breathe while I run. Right now I am running in intervals, I live out in the county so I run on county dirt roads and I run by telephone poles. I walk 2 poles, run 3 poles, walk 2, run 3 for the whole run which is usually about half an hour and I go just over 2 miles - so I am pretty much doing 14-15 min miles. That's not good enough, I feel like I could go farther (meaning say 4 or 5 poles instead of just 3) if I could just breathe! So I guess my question is how do I breathe while running? I read somewhere that you just "find" your rhythm but I have been running for 2 weeks now (not very long I know) and I just feel like im going nowhere or even backwards because I cant breathe. Any help or advice is much appreciated!
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    3 short breaths in, 2 longer ones out...

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    First off, be patient - it takes time to get conditioned to running.

    As for breathing techniques, there are a lot of options. Some people will tell you not to think about your breath and just try to relax and breath naturally. I like to try to sync my breath to my foot pattern. For example, I might inhale every 3rd time my right foot touches the ground and exhale through the next 2 gait cycles. I could explain more in depth but I don't want this post to become long-winded (pun intended).

    This might actually be a good topic for a blog post at some point. Hmm...
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    Quote Originally Posted by Al_Kavadlo View Post
    First off, be patient - it takes time to get conditioned to running.

    As for breathing techniques, there are a lot of options. Some people will tell you not to think about your breath and just try to relax and breath naturally. I like to try to sync my breath to my foot pattern. For example, I might inhale every 3rd time my right foot touches the ground and exhale through the next 2 gait cycles. I could explain more in depth but I don't want this post to become long-winded (pun intended).

    This might actually be a good topic for a blog post at some point. Hmm...
    for distance running i do it similarly. But keep my in breath and out breath the same length, I think I do 4 steps per in or out.
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    Dr. Bork Bork's Avatar
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    Inhale through nose 2-3 steps (depending on how hard you're running), exhale through mouth 1-2 steps. Once you hammer this rhythm into your head, it becomes more natural and you'll breathe more easily. I confess I'm a total mouth breather though, but I still maintain the 2-3 step rule
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    I haven't run any sort of distance lately but used to, and I think partly finding that rhythm that works for you comes by doing.

    The length you are running before walking is quite short, and I think that might be tripping you up some - there's not really a chance for your body to find a rhythm because you keep changing it. Back when I was running regularly and doing cross country/races, etc, I found getting to that rhythm was much easier when I started training with long slow distance. I think even after lots of time off and not doing it, I'd start out with initial runs of at least 3/4 mile - but the trick is to go REALLY slow. Even embarrassingly slow. Anyone *should* be able to do that off the couch, even - the goal should be to ignore speed completely and keep yourself at a level where you are able to talk the whole time. That could mean more of a shuffle than a run, but that's OK (at least, that's what worked for me). I'd work up to about 2 miles before adding in any interval training to build up speed and lung exertion. I think getting the distance under your belt helps you find that "sweet spot" for your body, then from there you can adjust what that sweet spot is with sprints and speed play.

    I also found it helped a TON to do a warmup. I found a loop about 1/4 mile, would run that at a faster pace than my LSD pace, then stop and stretch, and let my heart and respiration rate come down. For some reason I found it much easier to find a good workable rhythm after doing that, and could run farther more comfortably than I would if I didn't do that warmup.

    As far as what the rhythm for breathing and footfalls "should" be, I suspect that's different for everyone. For me, I don't try to control my breathing, I just relax and let it happen. I find I'm more comfortable when I breath faster - when I was doing cross country I was trained to try and breath a certain way (I don't even remember what it was now, but I think it was in through nose for 2-3 beats and out through mouth for 3-4 beats) but I do know that didn't work for me, and I think when I tried to slow my breathing or exhalation that was a problem for my particular body I breath in and out through my mouth (when trying to inhale through my nose and out through the mouth, it threw off my natural rhythm and was harder for me)

    Not that I'm a professional, or an athlete of any kind, or that my experience is indicative of anything

  7. #7
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    For easy easy training runs my breath doesnt really sync up all that often. I tend to sing or talk (to myself if no one else is around I confess). If I feel it getting into a steady sharp rhythm that means I have usually sped up beyond the "easy" run and into some sort of medium, tempo, interval, sprint etc. So then I have to ask myself...is that the goal of today's workout. I might drift into a gentle 3/2 or 2/3 (by that I mean I am neither forcing the breath in or out, just letting it flow)

    For me it has become a good way to make sure my exertion is at the proper level. For racing 3/2 or 2/3 (odd number totals CAN help prevent side stitches) or greater for HM and fulls. Once I feel I HAVE to breath 2/2 I am into 10K or shorter race pace or the latter 2 miles of either longer event.

    My guess is you need to just slow your running down to run farther and eventually that will bring your overall pace up. 90% of the time if you are really struggling with your breath you are over-running your current fitness level.
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  8. #8
    Fern's Avatar
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    @ arthurb999 thank you I tried this and ran for 6 poles I was so proud I actually felt like I could be a runner!

    @ Al please do a post about it! I checked your site before I came here but couldn't find what I was looking for.

    @ federkeil I was trying to do the same but I was trying to do 2 in and 2 out and i dont think 2 small breaths was enough air, but I'm going to try doing 4 next time. thanks.

    @ Dr. Bork Bork I am also a mouth breather, when I started to read your post and it saint in thru the nose I got all worried because I never breathe with my nose. It makes my head hurt.

    @ handgallop I don't think I was going far enough either but by the 3rd pole I would seriously feel like I was going to fall over and die. my side would hurt and I felt dizzy so I think my lack of figuring out how to breathe was really hindering me. I do think I might be pushing to much for a time rather than sustaining a speed that will allow me to run a farther distance rather than just run for a time.

    @ runnergal thank you for saying this. I don't know much about running, and I thought that I needed to push myself to my limit every single run. If I read your post right then that's not really the case. Maybe this is why I am not making any progress I'm always pushing to much when sometimes I should just run at a easier pace, I can guarantee that I'm attempting to out run my current fitness level.

    Thanks everyone, I am going use these suggestions to better my running. And sorry for any typos or such I suck at replying on my phone.
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  9. #9
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    I can't breathe through my nose while running either.

    Typically when I run my breathing tends to sync with pace. So I'd breathe in for 3 steps, out for 3 steps, in for 3 steps, out for 3 steps. This was for longer distance running. I haven't exactly worked it out for sprints yet. Usually I'm concentrating more on going really fast than keeping pace/breathing.

    As someone who went from not being able to run 30 seconds to pounding out 7 miles a day, I can say it's definitely something that takes a little time and practice.

    I'm doing Warrior Dash next year (2012) also. My concerns though are climbing the net and scaling the wall. I get nervous off the ground.

  10. #10
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    *raises hand* Another mouth breather here. It's just more natural for me, so I go with it.

    I'm with other people that timing your breaths with your strides, in whatever consistent rhythm feels most comfortable, is probably your best bet. If you get a cramp/stitch, breathing out hard when the foot opposite the cramp side strikes is a common remedy.

    I think breathing, like anything else, takes practice. When I started running, I was very aware of my breathing because of all the yoga I do, and I definitely made a point to breathe in a rhythm for a long time when just starting out. Now, the only time I regulate my breathing is if I'm going up a hill--I purposely breathe deeper and faster because otherwise I'll be too winded when I get up the hill, but I don't breathe harder going uphill naturally, so I have to make myself.

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