Running isn’t just about having a great physical condition and a healthy heart, as there is one more aspect you should be aware of before mastering this type of workout: breathing properly.
Ever noticed how, just before you reach the end of a speed interval – for example – your lungs go into overdrive? Most people think pulling in more air would help to maintain the pace, but in fact, it feels very difficult, due to not breathing properly until that moment. And no, it’s not about lacking overall fitness.
Fully train for running!
“Runners think about training their heart and legs, but they rarely think about training their lungs,” reveals Mindy Solkin, owner and head coach of The Running Center in New York City. “A strong respiratory system can improve your running. It’s a simple equation: Better breathing equals more oxygen for your muscles, and that equals more endurance.”
In this case, there’s one big question left: how can this ‘better breathing’ thing be achieved?
In our attempt to run for longer distances, we proceed to train our hamstrings and calves, but when it comes to breathing better, we need to tone down the muscles used for this. Through exercise, the conditioning of the diaphragm, the muscle that separates the chest from the abdomen and the intercostal muscles, lying between the ribs and enabling us to inhale and exhale, can be improved.
Anatomically speaking, during each breath we take, more than 80 percent of the work is done by the diaphragm. Strengthening it may improve your endurance, which results in longer fitness sessions, as you will be less likely to feel tired.
Forget about chest breathing
It was proven that most runners are chest breathers instead of belly breathers. When you’re chest breathing, your shoulders tend to get tense, then move up and down, which is nothing else than wasted energy you should use for running. On the other side, if you opt for belly breathing, your belly should fill up like a balloon, while when you breathe out it deflates.
It can be really difficult to break the habit of chest breathing, but the key to prevent both long and leg fatigue is actually trying to breathe more fully during your fitness sessions.
“When you take deeper breaths, you use more air sacs in your lungs, which allows you to take in more oxygen to feed your muscles,” says David Ross, M.D., pulmonologist at UCLA Medical Center. “When I’m running, I concentrate on taking slow and deep breaths to strengthen my diaphragm.”
There are various types of breathing exercises you can try in order to improve your running, like breathing in patterns or even use cross-training exercises for this. At Fitness 360 Florida you can find all the information you need about this, as well as full training programs, nutritional advice and everything you need to try spinning, yoga, lesmills, or zumba. Just pay them a visit and you will definitely get back and start transforming your life.
Picture Credit: KeithJJ