Have you ever gone for a run and find yourself quickly running out of breath? Usually this means that your pace is too fast, however it can also be due to insufficient breathing. When running, especially in a marathon deep breathing is crucial, you should use diaphragmatic breathing (or deep belly breathing) as opposed to shallow chest breathing as it provides the most efficient and maximal oxygen uptake and avoid injuries from an accident.
Keep in mind that the air you breathe in only remains in your lungs for a short period of time, therefore it prevents a complete exchange of air. In turn this causes the amount of oxygen that is taken in to be reduced. As a matter of fact, poor breathing techniques are often the reason why people experience that dreaded side stitch as they run.
That being said, deep belly breathing is a much more efficient way of breathing when you run, this is because it uses the lung´s entire capacity. The air that is breathed in also travels down to the lower area of the lungs and remains there longer thus increasing your oxygen uptake. It is important to note that exhaling consciously and deeply will automatically lead to inhaling deeply, which also helps to improve your oxygen uptake.
Here is a simple way to practice deep belly breathing:
Lie down on a flat surface, it can be your bed, sofa or even the floor and place a light book or your hands over your stomach.
Deeply and consciously breathe in and out. You should clearly be able to observe the boo or your hands rising as you breathe in and falling as you then breathe out.
Your focus should be on trying to exhale all of the air out of your lungs. It is quite simple and a bit of practice will help you to easily begin belly breathing automatically and naturally as you run.
Keep in mind that controlling your breathe as you run is extremely important and that is why it is recommended that you keep a rhythm. For a low intensity, easy run keep a 3:3 breathing rhythm, meaning three steps while you breathe in and three steps as you breathe out. For a run of a medium intensity, a 2:2 breathing rhythm is recommended, and for high-intensity and maximum runs, such as the final burst at the end of a marathon, a 1:1 breathing rhythm is best.
Keep in mind that these rules will not apply to every runner, they are merely meant as a rule of thumb. The best thing you can do is try various breathing rhythms until you find the one the works best and helps you feel the most comfortable. Regardless of your running intensity and breathing rate, the important thing to focus on is deep and conscious belly breathing, this will allow you to increase the length of time that you are able to breathe in and breathe out.
In conclusion, remember that running and controlling your breath go hand in hand. Focus on deep belly breathing and avoid shallow chest breathing. Try out various breathing rhythms until you find the one that works best, and remember that over time and with practice, you will develop the best breathing rhythm for you.