Running Tips: How To Breathe Properly

Learning to breathe properly while running will not only make your body more efficient, it will increase your endurance and make your runs more comfortable.

Having an efficient breathing pattern while you run will make you a more effective runner. Breathing properly will make your body more efficient at getting oxygen to your muscles, which will help you to increase your endurance. Also, having a good breathing rhythm while running makes the sport much easier and a lot more comfortable. And the more comfortable any exercise program is, the more likely you are to stick to it.

You may notice that experienced runners seem to run effortlessly, gliding over tracks and trails with the greatest of ease. They don't appear to be breathing any differently from someone sitting on a couch and relaxing. Well, you'll be surprised to find that most runners, regardless of their abilities, have had to practice focused breathing techniques at some point until they were so ingrained they have become second nature.

You, too, can develop your own breathing style that will make your runs a far more enjoyable, relaxing experience. Optimizing your breathing rhythm is surprisingly simple. Below you'll find three easy steps that will help you develop your own breathing pattern:


1. Try going through one full breath - inhaling and exhaling - every six to eight steps you take while running. In other words, for the first three to four steps, inhale a little bit on each step until at the third or fourth step, you have a full breath inflating your belly and lungs. Then for the next three to four steps, exhale a bit each time your foot hits the ground until you have exhaled completely.

2. Pick a foot. Choose to begin your breathing cycle as your left or right foot, whichever you prefer, strikes the ground.

3. Repeat.

Keep in mind that different things work for different people. You may find that this technique doesn't quite work for you, so tweak the above steps as needed to find what does work. Regardless of the technique you choose, focus on your breathing while you run until the best pattern becomes second nature.

If you find that it's difficult to focus on a breathing technique while you're running and you feel that you're gasping for air, try the above steps while you're walking. Once you're comfortable with the rhythm of your breathing, speed up gradually until you're running. And remember, your breathing pattern should not change significantly as you go up or down hills. If you find that your breathing pattern breaks at some point, don't get discouraged - simply start over.

Also, remember to fill your belly with air first, then your lungs. Breathing from your diaphragm, or taking "belly breaths," will reduce any side stitches you may get while running. If you find that you have trouble with cramping, focus on your breathing, and the cramp should go away.

Focused breathing will make your runs fly by, and they'll increase your lung capacity and endurance. Once your body gets more efficient at getting oxygen through your blood stream while you run, you'll find that it's easier for you to increase your speed, and you'll be far more comfortable while you run.

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