Okay, so right now you’re breathing, yes?
Two seconds ago you probably weren’t really thinking about it, but if you focus your attention, you can become more aware as you inhale and exhale while you’re reading this.
The same thing can happen while you’re running. Maybe you go a good long stretch with your breathing on complete autopilot, but at some point you might become suddenly (and sometimes uncomfortably) aware of your own huffing and puffing.
It can be a little frustrating, because what is ideally a mindless function turns into the only thing you can think about. And like a lot of things, breathing is one of those activities that we tend to do best when we aren’t actively thinking it through.
So what’s the best way to breathe when you’re in the middle of a run? Here are a few quick tips that can help you refocus, stay efficient, and get your mind back on other things (like the finish line).
Open your mouth. You can’t maximize your air intake with your nose alone. Breathing through your mouth is better than your nose, but ideally you’ll get to a point where you can breathe freely through both at the same time.
The scientific formula looks something like this: More air flow = good.
Think deep. As you fatigue, it’s easy to start breathing quick, shallow breaths. This is at best inefficient and at worst a recipe for hyperventilating. Even if it goes against your physical instincts, force yourself to breathe loooong and slooow. Inhale over two or three steps and exhale over two or three steps. Music can help.
Adjust your pace. If you really can’t get a handle on your breathing, chances are that you’re moving at too aggressive a pace. When it becomes difficult to breath slowly and consistently, it might be time to dial back on the intensity a little…unless the finish line is in sight.
The bottom line is that you want to make sure you remain in control of your breathing and that you can keep breathing in and out efficiently and without putting an unnecessary drain on your body as it’s trying to fire on all cylinders. If you consistently have trouble getting a handle on it, think about trying yoga or even simple meditation. Both can help you become more aware of your body, lungs included.