In through the nose, out through the mouth! Well, after a few miles into your run, that breathing sequence is easier said than done. When hitting the pavement, smooth and efficient breathing is important. Proper breathing can help runners run longer and keep up their endurance. We all know that once you start “huffing and puffing” the house comes tumbling down, and so will your body, speed, and performance.
Many runners find it most comfortable to take one breath for every two foot strikes, says Alison McConnell a breathing expert and author of Breathe Strong Perform Better. This means taking two steps (left foot, right foot) while breathing in, and two steps while breathing out.
So, do you breathe through your nose via the mouth? McConnell suggests to breathe via the mouth during exercise, as this is the route of least resistance. However, some experts say that nose breathing increases carbon dioxide in the blood, which creates a more calming effect. The most important thing is to really pay attention to your bringing and do what feels best for you.
One very important thing to note, is that when you breathe it should come from the diaphragm (the most efficient breathing muscle) — not the chest! “In general, the rib cage should expand in a 3D pattern, top to bottom, back to front, and to the sides,” says Anna Hartman, director of Performance Physical Therapy at Athletes’ Performance.
Lastly, Do not forget to breathe out! Holding the breath increases pressure inside the chest, but holding it too long can impede the return of blood to the heart and raise blood pressure.
If you find yourself still short of breath, try strength training on your rest days. Strength training has been shown to improve performance and endurance. So, if its your first mile or your 10th mile, be sure to properly breath to maximize your potential for success.