Run The Rock: Better Breathing

High school cross country practice was almost exclusively running with a small amount of weight training. Distance days we learned the layout of the city, running the streets around town to put in mileage. Speed work was always done on the track, mostly in the form of 800 or 400 repeats. If you want to build speed an endurance then you should work on running fast and far right? After six years of cross country I certainly didn’t know any better, but as it turns out running isn’t the only way to a faster race time.

One thing that was never taken into account when I was trained to run was technique, specifically when it comes to breathing. What is the most energy efficient way to breathe while running? What should I be doing to provide my body with the most fresh oxygen in every breath? These are the questions that occurred to me the other day, and I found the answer… one answer any way. HowToRunAMarathon.net provided me with an article called ‘Belly Breathing‘ that I decided to put to the test.

Wednesday evening I set out on a short run to train for a half marathon and practice this new breathing strategy. Half of a mile into my run, I had just broken a sweat and settled into a comfortable pace, I turned my attention to my breathing. Shallow and harsh, in and out through my gaping mouth. I don’t know how I was getting enough oxygen to stay conscious much less active.

Taking advice from the article I began forcing air out of my lungs by tightening my stomach muscles as I exhaled. This required constant focus specifically on breathing. Gasping for air when my lungs were at capacity I would realize that I had quit belly breathing and would again have to focus. As the next few miles passed beneath my feet it took less concentration, and even became comfortable. The same pace seemed much less demanding and I was able to breath strictly through my nose for the first time. With only one run of practice belly breathing is a method that I intend to adopt permanently. In addition to the increased endurance that I am sure will result, the effectiveness of this technique has inspired me to work on my form in the near future.

Do any runners know where I could find running technique suggestions?

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3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by godfrey on September 24, 2011 at 7:10 PM

    It brings me great joy to see your continuing the blog. I really enjoy your writing style and can see this really growing… And now I’m going to give you some useless advice (bare with me, I might be a little crazy): when I see this blog, I think, “human potential,” and I have this idea that, especially with education, people limit themselves by the way they perceive themselves. And in this exponential age, I think the old way of perceiving oneself, as this nomanilized identity is slowly fading away and people are embarrassing the whole “I am simply an accomplishment machine” more. Or at least, I hope so, and I hope you can help this “intellectual revolution”. (revolution sounds too heavy, but I don’t think any other word does my thought justice)

    What I’m getting at here is that, I see in this blog the idea of “create/have a challenge, learn how to overcome it, then do it.” And I think you should take on a more responsible role, in the sense that you need to awaken this success machine that exists in all of us. So instead of doing an endeavor a week for yourself (it kinda feels that way), do it for everyone else.

    It made me cringe when you asked for advice on running techniques. You don’t need help, help is a constraint, you have no barriers.
    Transform this into something more than a blog. Literally and figuratively. (by literally I mean, fuck center aligned format, more people are going widescreen, center aligned wastes my 4 feet of screen.) Although changing format isn’t what I’m trying to get at, look into whole new avenues of… blogging? I don’t know.

    I want everyone to be all they can be, you can show them how.

    Reply

  2. I’m currently training for my first half marathon at the end of November, and would love to learn more about training tips that you stumble across from friends or the internet! I’ve been training since late August, and am just started down a small slump–do you know of any tips for overcoming speed set backs?

    Reply

    • Congratulations! This is also going to be my first half marathon so I am learning just as you are, and will be happy to share any tips that I find. When my training plateaus I usually change the focus of my workouts. For example, if your training is focused around long runs try to mix in a few track workouts such as 400 or 800 meter interval training. This will help build muscle in your legs and increase your foot speed. If you have any more questions I will be happy to help as much as I can. Good luck with your training and the race, keep me updated on your progress.

      Reply

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