Nose or mouth, belly or chest, fast or deep, in rhythm or randomly? Have you bought yourself sneakers and an aerodynamic cap, pumped your leg muscles to insanity, you perform special running exercises five times more photogenic than other runners, but are quickly exhausted and tired at the distance? Maybe it's time to learn how to breathe while running.
What happens when you inhale air:
First, let's understand how we breathe. The human respiratory system is divided into two parts:
- The upper respiratory tract.
The nose, mouth, and upper trachea from the pharynx to the bronchi. These guys are responsible for getting air into the lungs.
- Lower respiratory tracts.
The trachea, bronchi, bronchioles, and lungs. Located in the chest and protected by the rib cage and diaphragm (the muscle that separates the chest and abdominal cavities). These organs are responsible for pumping air and getting oxygen into the bloodstream.
This whole structure, schematically resembling a blacksmith's bellows, is securely clenched on all sides by muscles and a ribcage. Probably to keep you from bloating on the next breath and bursting.
This is what happens to you when you breathe:
When you breathe in, your rib cage expands and your diaphragm and intercostal muscles contract (tense). This increases the volume of your chest, the pressure inside your lungs drops, and the air is pumped in.
When you exhale, the intercostal muscles relax and the chest collapses. The diaphragm also relaxes, with the volume of the chest falling, the pressure inside rises, and the air is pushed outside.
All you have to do for a good run is pump enough oxygen inside to get it into your bloodstream. You can increase the "dose" in two ways:
- Widen the "air inlet" so that more air enters the lungs. This is where you need to work on the upper respiratory tract.
- Increase lung volume to take in more oxygen. This goes to the lower respiratory tract.
If you're already contemplating expanding your nose and mouth with the tools at hand, slow down. We'll tell you about more painless breathing techniques.
Nose or Mouth?
They say the legendary Arthur Lydiard once gave advice to journalists:
"Breathe through your mouth. Breathe through your nose. Suck in air through your ears if you can."
But the Internet is full of shit storms (Holy wars) on the subject. The main arguments of nasal breathers: mankind has always breathed through the nose, the nose filters the air from all sorts of nasties, the nose warms the air so you don't catch a cold - what mouth-breathing, hello?
In fact, the runner's mouth is oh-so-needed.
First, remember the purpose of breathing when running: to take in as much oxygen as possible and exhale as much carbon dioxide as possible. While nasal breathing manages this, but with difficulty, it's somehow easier and faster to breathe with your mouth. As a result, you don't faint from lack of oxygen, and your muscles run chipper along with you. If you want, you can breathe both with your nose and mouth - the main thing is that your mouth is involved, there is no way without it.
Secondly, when breathing through the nose, the jaw and facial muscles in general are tightly compressed. This is harmful: prolonged compression can damage, spasm, or even strain other, more important, muscles. But when you run with your mouth open, your mouth muscles are usually relaxed. It will be easier to overcome the desired distance, though without pumped-up cheekbones.
The main arguments "against" from fans of breathing through the nose: when breathing through the mouth, cold air enters the lungs, and the mouth dries out the mucous membranes. But this can be avoided:
- To avoid getting a sore throat, wrap your face in a buff or balaclava. It's still more effective than breathing through your nose alone.
- Chew gum or candy to release saliva. Or drink water from time to time, this will also restore the body's water balance.
Through the stomach or the chest?
It's much simpler, the world has come to the same conclusion. You have to breathe with your belly (or your diaphragm in other words).
When you breathe with your "belly," the diaphragm moves downward. This increases the space in your chest and pumps air into your lungs. Breathing with your diaphragm allows you to open your lungs to the limit, and fill them with as much air as possible - which will benefit you when you run.
Breathing with your chest does not fully open your lungs. The chest restricts space - your muscles start to get bored without oxygen and want to finish the workout faster. In addition, your chest muscles are usually weaker than your diaphragm and will begin to hobble after a while, slowly reducing the space for inhaled air.
It's important to keep in mind that your body can't absorb all the oxygen you breathe in anyway. It's just that when you breathe on your stomach, your oxygen absorption is a little better - and you need it.
If you've been breathing through your chest all your life and don't understand how to suddenly entrust this function to your stomach, here's a simple exercise.
- Sit or lie on your back.
- Put your hand on your stomach so you can feel it move.
- Count to 8 on each inhale and each exhales.
- Repeat for 3 to 5 minutes. Every day.
This way you will not only get into the habit of breathing correctly, but you will also pump up your diaphragm and learn to take deeper breaths at the same time.
Fast or deep?
The deeper you breathe in, the more oxygen enters your blood and muscles, reducing your fatigue. So deep breaths are clearly more beneficial than quick and shallow breaths.
In rhythm or randomly?
The running community has not yet decided what to consider as the norm: rhythm or lack thereof. There is a certain category of coaches who believe that you can't run without rhythm.
The rest are of the opinion that your body knows how to run and there is no need to train it to the rhythm.
Most runners admit that the best running is running without a clear rhythm. You can breathe at your own arbitrary rhythm, or you can breathe without a rhythm at all, communicating with fellow runners - and you don't have to think about it all! So why bother with a particular rhythm when the result will be the same or even better?
What is rhythm in running? You are probably already familiar with it. The normal rhythm for a measured run is 3-3 (1 breath in 3 steps - 1 exhalation in 3 steps). Standard rhythm is 2:2. Accelerated is 1:1.
How it's good. If you are accustomed to the rhythm, you do not have to think about how many and how to inhale and exhale to provide oxygen to the body.
What's wrong with that? It's often impossible to determine which rhythm is best at the moment. As you experiment with it, your breathing gets disrupted, the pace slows, and you lose precious recovery time. Not only that, with the wrong rhythm, your muscles won't get enough oxygen, and you risk getting tired before your time. And then there is a loss of enthusiasm, skipping training - forget them, these rhythms, with such nightmares.
In 2013, the University of Utah published a study on the relationship between steps and breathing that shook up the running establishment. Or rather, not the study itself, but Budd Coates' best-selling book, "Running on Air," which came out after publication.
Coates wrote a scary thing: if you always start a rhythm with the same foot, you will land on the same foot. That leg will injure itself more - and say goodbye to your sports career, say hello to crutches.
Coates could have cleverly said, "Then what are your rhythms for?", but he made a move: he came up with a 3:2 rhythm, so it's neither here nor there. With this rhythm, you start every time with a different foot and land on a different foot.
Everyone said "wow" and started rewriting articles about running, but then the author of the original study, Dennis Bramble, intervened. He surprisingly wrote that the study said nothing about micro-injuries, and generally thinks that 2:2 is the best rhythm in the world.
The hype quickly quieted down, but the Coates fan articles remained, and you can come across them on the Internet. Domestic sources, on the other hand, publish information about the 3:2 rhythm under the guise of genius discoveries. So be vigilant and don't be distracted by unnatural rhythms.
What to do if you can't breathe while running
This means you are not running at your own pace. Slow down or even walk to breathe freely. When you rest, your breathing problems will resolve themselves. Just start at a gentler pace, okay?
A sure-fire way to determine the right pace of running is a "talk test," a conversational pace of running. You should talk at a running pace in full sentences, without frantically gulping air or panting. You don't have to talk from start to finish, just check in from time to time to see how your fellow runners are doing. And yes, that's one reason why running with fellow runners is better than without them.
How to improve breathing
If after all these revelations you have the idea that you don't know how to breathe on the run, we have a couple of tips for that.
Run regularly. The better shape you're in, the easier it is for you to breathe. Your muscles will learn to absorb oxygen and your lungs will learn to breathe in and out more efficiently. Even if you're not breathing properly, you'll do it more effectively every day. Why would you breathe wrong, though, when you've pretty much read this article and know how to do it?
Do breathing exercises. Your lungs can be trained just like your muscles. Learning to breathe on your belly, taking deep breaths will help you breeze through stadiums and parks without chuffing or asterisks in your eyes.
Swim. Breathing is an important part of swimming exercises, so swimming can help you a lot. You will learn to regulate your breathing rate by coordinating it with your limbs. Another important habit is the body's ability to take in as much oxygen as possible with short, deep breaths.
Don't smoke. Smoking damages your lungs and makes it harder for you to breathe deeply than non-smoking runners. Considering that the situation will only get worse with age, you should think about it now. Maybe it's this bad habit that's undoing all your running achievements.
What's the result
- Breathe with your belly and don't breathe with your chest.
- Breathe with your mouth or your mouth and nose, but not just through your nose.
- Breathe more deeply.
- Try to run with a rhythm, but don't get too worked up: it will come on its own.
- Determine your pace by talking to fellow runners.
- In general, just breathe without much trouble, and you'll be fine.