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Running: Using Proper Breathing

Updated on March 8, 2012

Breathing is an extremely crucial part of running. To some, they would even say there is an art to it. This hub is the third part in a series about running. Previous hubs have covered what it takes to get started running and having a plan when running. This will discuss the importance of using proper breathing to maximize running potential.

At one time or another, all runners have experienced cramping. There is that feeling that your side has a knife being driven into it. The shooting pain tis combined with tightness, and it almost feels like it will be impossible to continue running. It seems like your breathing is being completely hindered. It is often believed that this feeling is inevitable and there is nothing that can be done about it. However, there are ways to help prevent this from occurring and to even stop it once it comes.

Breathing is something people do naturally. Even without thinking about it consciously, your body will continue to breathe. However, sometimes that can be a problem that breathing is done subconsciously. For some reason when your body does certain things instinctively, it can be done improperly. Breathing is one of these things done lazily.

Proper breathing is done through your diaphragm and not your chest. The problem most people do not pay attention to this or know the difference. If you inhale deeply and feel your shoulders lift and your chest expand, you’re breathing less efficiently. One way to test this is to lie down on your back. Take a long, deep breath with your hand resting on your stomach. If your stomach rises instead of your chest, you are exercising proper breathing. This will allow you to take fuller, deeper breaths.

It is also important to try to take longer, deeper breaths. Your breathing should remain relaxed. Your shoulders should not tense up with the breathing. Try to avoid short, quick breaths. By breathing properly, you can increase lung capacity. Increased lung capacity will allow you to take deeper breaths and help reduce that winded, out-of-breath feeling. This will in turn increase your stamina.

When you do feel cramping in your chest and stomach region, there is a simple trick to help eliminate it. It involves a little bit of timing. For instance, if the cramp is on the right side of your body, exhale at the same time your right foot hits the pavement. Continue with this pattern until the cramp goes away.

However, you will not be able to change your breathing overnight. It is also not something you will able to master just during running. It is important to do some breathing exercises when you are not running. This could be done during your pre-run. Proper breathing will take a lot of concentration at first, so it’s necessary to do it while nothing else is going on. That way you will be able to focus on doing it properly. Proper breathing is something that can eventually be done without thinking because your body will build the muscle memory. Deep, relaxed breathing will help to increase your running potential.


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