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Breathing Exercises For Runners

Books to Improve your Running

Breathing properly is a very important aspect of running. Most people think running is primarily performed by the legs with some assistance from the arms but this is simply not true. The respiratory system plays a critical role in a runnerís effectiveness. Runners who are capable of bringing greater levels of oxygen into their system without compromising their efficiency are likely stronger than their counterparts who struggle to breathe in enough oxygen when they are running. This article will offer some information on a few basic techniques and breathing exercises which can be very beneficial to runners.

Your breathing during running can have an effect on your performance. One technique that can be used in training is to breath slightly slower than your body requires when you are not running. This technique starves your system for oxygen and forces the heart to beat faster. Over time your body learns to compensate for the increased lack of oxygen so that when you are not practicing this technique you are more efficient at processing the air you breathe. One demonstration of this technique is in swimming. Swimmers practice alternate breathing which consists of breathing every third stroke to enable them to breathe on alternate sides without taking a breath with every stroke. In the beginning their body demands more oxygen, but as they continue to practice this technique the body adjusts to the decrease in oxygen and becomes more efficient and able to function with only one breath for every three strokes. Runners that swim often exhibit excellent efficiency at processing oxygen into the system simply because the breathing techniques they use for swimming have help to train their bodies to be more efficient.

Often during a long run or even a race of a shorter magnitude the runner may lose focus and get out of breathing rhythm he had intended to employ throughout the race. This loss of breathing rhythm may be a result of the runner simply forgetting to concentrate on the breathing or it may also be a result of an outside factor which caused the runner to alter his breathing pattern. One way a runner can avoid this problem and keep his breathing in rhythm is to time his breaths with his steps. This should be done in a manner similar to the way runners consciously take their breaths on every third stroke. The same principle can be applied in a simple, but effective technique of making an effort to breathe in or out according to a set pattern. This simple breathing technique can have a soothing effect that may place the runner into a state often referred to as the zone. Runners who reach this state are able to keep running like clockwork at a consistent pace with a great deal of efficiency. Much like a metronome, the runnerís body will be operating at very consistent, repeatable pace when a breathing rhythm is established. The runner may find that focusing on the arms, legs, feet and breathing which are all following the same beat provides a perfect distraction to the pain and soreness that you might be feeling during the run. In this way the breathing technique not only helps to make the runner more efficient but also helps to keep the runnerís mind off pain or soreness which may otherwise cause him to stop running.

Deep breathing is another technique that can be used when running. This helps the runner to stay relaxed which can help to decrease fatigue. This decrease in fatigue is usually a result of the muscles not being contracted unnecessarily. The ability to relax during a run is very important because remaining tense can cause a decline in performance for the runner. For example, runners often forget to relax and do not notice inadvertent changes they are making to their form until afterwards when they feel pain. Some of these common problems which plague runners who are not relaxed during their training runs include clenching the fists too tightly and running with the shoulders in a position where they are too high to be effective. This type of poor form often results in muscle fatigue and soreness. One good breathing exercise that helps to promote this relaxation while running is to engage in deep breathing. A couple times during a run you can take a larger than normal breath and exhale all of the way out. During the exhale you should concentrate on releasing all of the tension in your arms by shaking them out, opening up your hands and moving your head in a circle. This combination of activities will provide you an easy way to remain relaxed during your run and you donít even need to break stride to perform these activities. This is true of most breathing techniques for runners. The can be very beneficial but they do not require a great deal of effort to achieve optimal breathing patterns.


The video clip above is from my DVD about running stetches and other running related information. Click on the DVD case below to find out more.

Running Stretches and Running Tips

Click Here to view the DVD.

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