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Breathing, run longer with less effort


Good breathing plays a massive part of distance running, in fact I would place good money on backing a athlete with better breathing technique with an uneconominal running form against an athlete with better running form with uneconomical breathing! 
I think it's fair to say that when we run, we spend little thinking about our breathing. it's easier to accept it as an involuntery process that does it's thing in the background whilst we spend more time concerning about our technique, cadence or simply persuading our legs to keep moving.
Breathing is however is one of the biggest tools to keep the legs moving, to maintain good cadence, to prelong our technique. Practising good breathing technique will allow you to train better and make you run for longer and faster.


Diaphragmatic breathing

diaphragmatic breathing

Typical efficient breathing comes from diaphragmatic breathing ( deep belly breathing ),this is the time when you are breathing in the best mix of oxygen, and breathing out the right amount too. Whilst this is in play, your lungs are working at their prime efficiency to maximise the intake of oxygen and serve your muscles with great flow of oxygenised blood for best performance.

The problem is, when we are uncomfortable, typically training at our highest output, or close to fatigue, (often seeing the finish line quarter of a mile away), our breathing becomes a little more erratic, we shift from deep belly breathing to shallow breathing. Shallow breathing cuts the correct amount of oxygen to the lungs and less of it too. We often become tense and step into the world of potential vo2 max or even hyper ventilation. 

Mindful of this, it’s important to learn to breathe from your diaphragm, instead of from your chest. But also we need to mentally train our brain to welcome different comfort zones without reason to panic or lose control of our breathing patterns.

Elites have breathing sorted!!

Liz Yelling

Elites have a complete grip on their breathing, it's a must for being able to dip in and out of the high intensities they frequently train and compete at.  In comparison, when we train outside of our comfort zone, all it takes is the slightest doubt of longivity to trigger off the early phase of burn out sequence, our breathing changes and becomes more erratic, body prepares for shut down. Top end runners however, welcome this sensation, after all it's what they've devoted their life towards doing, hence they have the ability 'endure' this bitter sweet environment for much much longer. 

'When I am running flat out, my breathing is hard, and loud! My legs burn, but with confidence in my fitness, I know I can just put up with this uncomfortable state because I know this moment is making me even fitter.  I open my mouth and inhale as deeply as I can, I know my body will breathe as much as it needs to to support my physiological needs. When you run your fastest for sustained periods of time your demand for oxygen is high therefore you need more.  I enjoy running like this... It gives me a buzz, but I also know this is not for everyone. Running and breathing is all about pace control, run faster breath harder, run slower breath less vigorously. As runners it is in our control to dial up or dial down in order to control breathing rate.'

Liz Yelling, Olympic and Commonwealth distance runner. 

Diaphragmatic breathing exercise

Diaphramatic Breathing Drills

You can practise diaphramatic breathing by laying down on your back and place one of your shoes on your belly and the other on your chest. What you need to do is focus on the shoe on your belly to move up and down and for the shoe on your chest to remain exactly where it is. Practise this drill for a minute at a time, and make sure the movement from your belly is slow and gradual rather than trying to fire your abs up to lift the shoe up. For best form, push the lower curve of your back into the floor. Once you have got the hang of Diaphragmatic breathing, progress this drill to walking, jogging, and running (shoes on belly could be tricky!)

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