How to breathe while running

Many beginner runners struggle with the proper way to breathe while running. Or they don’t even think about it. With the proper breathing technique, you can ideally be running on air, avoiding injury and running more efficiently. What is the proper breathing technique while running?

Ideally, you want to breathe rhythmically. You want to relate your breathing cycle with your running cadence. And you want to time your inhales and exhales strategically. You want to alternate which foot you land on at the beginning of every exhalation. This way, the impact stress of running will be shared equally across both sides of your body.

It’s similar to when you’re wearing a heavy backpack, you use both straps to distribute the weight evenly rather than use only one strap which would put all the weight on one shoulder. Rhythmic breathing goes beyond just injury prevention though. In Hinduism, yoga teaches pranayama– breath work. The work of breathing draws life-force into the body. Through rhythmic running and breathing we breathe fully and realize our vitality as the Taoist would say.

In yoga, martial arts, relaxation, and meditation breath work is used to connect mind, body and spirit. In martial arts, this inner connection and centeredness (dantian) allows more immediate and precise control of the physical body. This helps to decrease stress and stabilize extreme emotions. It also applies to running through rhythmic breathing. You achieve centeredness first by focusing your mind on fitting your breathing to an optimal footstrike pattern. Then your awareness of breathing links mind and body and creates a smooth pathway to determining the effort of running. Rhythmic breathing helps you feel your running which gives you immediate and precise control.

This article is just a brief look at breathing while running, but breathing is so much more than just what I’m talking about here. I’m considering doing a breathing series where we take a few blog posts and dive deeper into different aspects of breathing. Let me know if you’re interested in learning more about breathing.

Do you practice rhythmic breathing? Do you pay attention to how you breathe when running? Or do you just bumble around? What about during other exercises? Let me know!

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