How To Breathe Your Way To Being A Better Runner

You can breathe your way to being a better runner with the right tips and be on your way to becoming a better runner. Breathing is natural, but the right breathing technique for running? That can take a little practice. It goes without saying that running can cause shortness of breath, but breathing too shallow can render you breathless even faster. If you want to bolster your running, pay some attention to your breath. It’s essential to tune into your breath and see how to use it to become a better runner.

Why Does Breathing Help?

Better breathing means better efficiency and ease, helping you to become the best runner you can be, in fact, it is crucial to becoming a better runner. When you start paying attention to your breath it is normal for it to feel a bit unnatural. But once you get the hang of it, you’ll notice how much better you feel.

How do you breathe properly when running?

To be on your way to being a better runner, first, you need to avoid breathing with just your chest. As strange as that sounds, this is known as shallow breathing, and if you’re just breathing with your chest, then you’re not getting the most out of those breaths. 

Shallow Chest Breathing vs. Deep Belly Breathing

You can achieve your dream of being a better runner when you breathe well. Always aim for deep belly breathing (also known as diaphragmatic) when running. This type of breathing will maximize your oxygen uptake and is just an all-round more efficient way to breathe. Deep Belly breathing ensures your entire lung capacity is used. When shallow breathing, the air does not remain in the lungs for a generous time and there is not a complete exchange of air (oxygen in – CO2 out). With Deep Belly Breathing, the air can move to the lower lung capacity, where it remains for enough time for proper oxygen intake and air exchange. 

Here’s a little exercise to get you breathing better with your belly.

Practicing Diaphragmatic Breathing

Lie flat. You could lie on the sofa (you don’t have to lie on the hard floor). Place your hands on top of your belly. 

As you begin to draw the breath in, feel that you are consciously aware of the breath entering your lungs, and as you breathe out, keep that same awareness as you feel your lungs expelling the air. Notice how your hands rise and fall with each breath. 

On your next exhale, imagining your lungs are being completely emptied of all the air. This helps to engage your diaphragm, without you even realizing it. The more you practice, the more natural this will become. And before you know it, you’ll be running and breathing better. 

On your next run, gently bring your awareness to your breath. Feel how your lungs strengthen and fill up with oxygen. Notice how they deflate and empty on the exhale. Just this simple awareness will bring a new quality to your runs. But don’t just take our word for it, go on and try it for yourself. 

Did You Know?

Oh, the dreaded stitch. We’ve all had one. But did you know that the stitch is a result of poor oxygen intake? If you were still on the fence about upgrading your breathing technique while running, this little fact is sure to convince you. 

Benefits of Correct Breathing

Helps to stay comfortable and relaxed

Reduce tension in the upper back and shoulders

Reduce strained blood vessels and blood pressure spikes

Helps to maintain a good posture

Increase lung function and cardio capacity

Helps to find your rhythm

Prevent stitches

Okay, so you now know to engage your full belly when breathing, now, do you need to use your nose or your mouth?

Nose vs. Mouth: the runner’s choice

The main goal of better breathing is to enhance efficiency, right? You want to take in as much oxygen as possible and get rid of as much CO2 as possible. 

But when breathing through your nose you can’t inhale nearly the same capacity as through your mouth. So, it seems natural to use our mouths when we feel we’re gasping for oxygen. But the nose is also better at filtering the air, allowing you to get better air quality. 

The thing is, when you are pushing hard during a run, mouth breathing is better. But, when you are running at an easy pace, say on a recovery run, nose breathing could be more beneficial. 

Your body will also let you know. If you think you’re running at an easy pace and trying to maintain it through your nose, your body will soon let you know in no uncertain terms when it needs more oxygen than you’re giving it through your nose. 

Our bodies are incredible ‘machines’, or designs. A million processes are happening when we walk, never mind run. Learn to listen to it. Just like diaphragmatic breathing becomes a natural process, you’ll learn to listen to what it needs when running, and this goes for more than just the choice between the nose and mouth breathing. 

How to Become a Better Runner, Naturally

If you’re breathing well, then you’re running well- even if you’re running slow. And let’s just change that narrative really quick. Instead of calling it a slow run, let’s call it an easy run. Aim to run at a comfortable pace where you’re breathing still feels natural. When running, train your mind to be focused on your breathing and remind yourself to maintain natural, smooth breathing. Pay attention to the way the air feels, focus on how it feels as your lungs fill up and how your body responds when you’re breathing well. 

Running is as much a mental thing as it is a physical thing. You can be on your way to being a better runner with practice and discipline. Training your mind to stay focused on your breathing can transform you into a better runner, with no more physical effort other than breathing. Sounds too good to be true? Next time you feel out of sorts as you struggle through your run, turn your attention to your breath. How does the air feel? Can you feel your diaphragm and lungs filling with the life force? Before you know it, you’ll get into your groove and you’ll forget how much you might’ve been struggling.























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