We’ve all had days were we feel like we can run forever and other days where we feel like the first 10 steps were 10 too many. While there are a lot of factors that go into how well you can run including sleep, stress, and diet, but one of the most over-looked factors is how much oxygen is getting to your hard-working muscles.
By learning to breath properly, you can run for longer distances and will feel better as you run. Most people only use the top third of their lungs for breathing which means they are not getting the full potential from their lungs. As you run, breathe in deeply and fill your entire lungs with air and allow your diaphragm and ribcage to expand to accommodate it.
It will take time to learn this breathing technique, so don’t give up. You can also help to improve your breathing techniques and lung capacity by cross-training with pilates and yoga. Another tip to learning to breath from your diaphragm is to breath in rhythm with your steps.
Begin with a normal-paced jog, and start counting steps while you breath. You should be able to take 3 to 4 steps on each inhale and exhale. When you run faster, it will become 1 breath per 1 to 2 steps. Finding this running and breathing rhythm will help you run for longer, and will decrease any dizziness you feel while running because it ensures that your muscles are staying properly oxygenated.
Breathe differently in cooler temps: It’s important to breathe through your nose while running in chillier weather, because cold air is dry and breathing through your mouth increases the dryness while decreasing the temperature of the air. Since your lungs do not like dry air, you can experience asthma-like symptoms, like wheezing and coughing, when breathing cold air in through your mouth. Breathing through your nose not only filters out air impurities but also warms cool air to body temperature, creating less shock for the lungs to decrease those asthma-like symptoms.
Learn to breathe through your nose: If nose breathing is difficult for you, start experimenting with the technique now before the temperature drops drastically. Breathing through the nose helps you breathe more deeply and efficiently, which will ultimately help your running no matter what the temperature is. If you plan to run in cold temps and have yet to master nose breathing, you can try wearing a bandana (or a shirt that can be pulled up far) over your nose and mouth to help trap the moisture of your breath and humidity in the air before it reaches your lungs.