It's the first thing that you learn when you come into the world, i.e. how to breathe. Although it is an independent reflex action when at rest, breathing can be controlled to reduce it when relaxing, however physical exercise will always speed it up.
So how should you breathe while running: follow the guide!
1. What is the Right Way to Breathe
The right way to breathe is so-called "abdominal" breathing: the abdomen fills first as you breathe in, followed by the lower thorax and finally the upper thorax. You breathe out by pulling in the abdomen. This way of breathing will displace a greater volume of air with each breath, making it more efficient and reducing tension in the upper body. As for the breathing rhythm, you should take longer to breathe out than breathe in. This method will be more effective at emptying the lungs, thereby renewing the air more effectively when you next breathe in. For example, breathe in over the space of 2 strides and breathe out over the space of 3 to 5 strides depending on your pace and how you feel.
2. Breathing, the Primary Tool for Analysing your Effort
When running, there are 4 easily observable effort zones associated with your breathing:
- the "talking" zone: a pace at which you can keep up a conversation with the people running with you.
- the "questions/answers" zone: your running and breathing pace speed up. You can ask brief questions and give brief answers.
- the "silent" zone: as you accelerate further there is no way that you can speak.
- the "fast breathing" zone: at this pace, you are approaching your top endurance running speed and your breathing reaches its maximum pace and amplitude.
3. How Should you use your Breathing to help you Train?
Your breathing should already give you a good idea of your running pace and you can use it to help you control your training speeds.
The basis of a good training session relies on a significant amount of endurance training: you should therefore seek to spend 80 to 85% of your training time in the so-called "talking" zone. this means running at a jogging pace with a very comfortable breathing pattern. The rest of your training time (15 to 20%) should be done at the 3 more intensive levels.
4. What Benefits can you Expect over the Long-Term?
Jogging with a comfortable breathing pattern should therefore be the basis on which you build your training sessions. At these paces, you burn off fat more easily, you develop your network of small blood vessels and improve the capacity of your muscles to capture the oxygen in the blood. During sessions of intense activity when your breathing pattern will be much faster, you will develop the capacity of your heart and lungs to transfer more oxygen to the blood and to your active muscles. These 2 adaptations will allow you to gradually increase your running speed during the course of your training programme, while remaining in the "talking" zone.
Finally, if you are seeking to improve further in controlling your training speeds, you can check out the advice.