Running is a relatively easy sport to start. Just lace on a pair of shoes and hit the pavement, right? But as any beginner runner will tell you, you quickly realize that your breathing has as big an impact on the success of your runs as your stride or foot strike.
“Your breathing brings oxygen to working muscles, and inefficient breathing can lead to problems in endurance and performance,” says Brian Eckenrode, D.P.T., assistant professor of physical therapy at Arcadia University and coordinator of their running injury clinic. Breathing patterns are individualized, he added, so it may take some trial and error to find the one that is optimal for you.
It’s worth noting that if it ain’t broke there’s probably not a huge need to fix it. However, if you are struggling with your breathing while running or are prone to injuries, experimenting with your breathing pattern is worth exploring. Since proper breathing improves your running economy-the energy it takes to run-mastering these exercises may be the key to increasing your endurance and your pace, Eckenrode explains.
Nose Versus Mouth Breathing
Let’s get one thing settled: When it comes to breathing for runners, there’s no one “right” way, says Eckenrode. You can choose to breathe through your nose or your mouth (or a combination of the two). But typically when running, breathing through your nose is great for warming up and cooling down because you’re bringing in air at a lesser rate, which forces you to slow your pace and calm down. On the other hand, breathing through your mouth may be preferred for workouts or races because you bring in the most amount of air in an efficient manner.