There are many beginner running techniques that you need to learn if you want to run successfully and safely. Breathing is one of the most important parts of running. Incorrect breathing can cause pain, injury, and it can make you unable to run at all. In this article you will find the correct breathing techniques for beginner runners that will make you successful and make running enjoyable.
First of all, to achieve the best results, make sure to keep your body – back, shoulders, neck – straight. As you run, you may have a natural tendency to slouch – do not do that. Also, do not bend your head down – look ahead. What this does is it makes it easier to get air into your lungs and blood into your head, so you can run easier and, then, longer.
When you're running, your body needs all the air it can get. The faster you run, the longer you run, the more energy and oxygen your body uses. If your breathing is too shallow, you will run out of air and will not be able to run. If you breathe too deeply, you risk hyperventilating. Also, if you're breathing too deeply, you will be wasting energy and get tired faster.
Usually, taking deep breaths means expanding your chest to get more air into your lungs. However, when you do that, you are using both your chest muscles and your shoulder muscles – your shoulders naturally rise when you expand your chest to take a deep breath, and lower again when you exhale. When running, use your diaphragm for taking deep breaths – your stomach will expand, leaving room for the lungs to expand and take in more air without using the chest or shoulder muscles.
A common advice for beginner runners is to inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth. This is a very relaxing way of breathing, used a lot in meditation, but it is quite difficult to maintain. It forces you to constantly focus on your breathing when running which might be a problem for some. Do not worry too much on keeping this up – like I said, your body will need all the air you can get, so you can use your nose or your mouth (or both) to inhale, if that gets you the air that you need.
Another technique you should learn, is to keep up breathing rhythm. When I first started running, I was taught to maintain a 3: 3 rhythm – 3 steps to inhale, 3 steps to exhale. It turns out, having a "symmetric" (2: 2, 3: 3, 4: 4) breathing rhythm is harder to maintain and can increase the risk of injury. Now, the exact count of in-out steps depends on a lot of things – speed, distance, experience, personal physiology – but for most beginner runners a 3: 2 rhythm works well (2: 1 if you're running faster, rather than longer).
Sometimes while running you'll notice that you're breathing too fast. Or that you're losing breath or you can not keep your breathing rhythm anymore. After a while, you'll begin feeling pain – mainly in your chest and shoulders. All of these are signs of incorrect breathing. When you notice them, if you want to continue running, you need to "restart" your breathing. Here is a technique that works best for me: 1) slow down a bit, 2) take a full deep breath in (as much as you can), and exhale completely (1 or 2 of these, depending on your situation), 3 ) do a number of relaxing breaths – in through the nose, out through the mouth. If you do that, your breathing will stabilize and you can continue running normally.