Breathing well is one of the “arts” that we have to master if we want to be better runners. But is it better to breathe through the nose or through the mouth? Do we have to wear the same breathing pattern when we run relaxed than when we are doing series? We’ll clear up all your doubts below.
The best breath: the one that comes naturally
As in most sports, the best breath we can carry running is the one our body instinctively asks us to take, without having to look at whether we breathe in or out in a certain way.
This occurs, for example, in Yoga classes. If we take as an example the sequence of the Salutation to the Sun, in which seven asanas or different postures are united in the form of a sequence, we will see that what is usually indicated is to alternate inspiration and exhalation in each of the postures (except in Chaturanga, in which we contain the air). If we take a look at each of the postures we will see that those that suggest an inspiration are the same ones in which there is an extension of the spine backwards, opening the rib cage and leaving room for the lungs to expand when taking in the air. Our body, even if it is not explicitly indicated to us, will do this intuitively.
The same thing happens when running: our breathing, once we have found our rhythm, adapts intuitively and automatically to it, in order to carry the greatest amount of oxygen to our muscles.
Do we breathe through the mouth or through the nose?
If we want to fine-tune more when talking about breathing in a race, it is generally recommended to breathe in as well as out through the mouth, because in this way we get more oxygen to our lungs.
We must bear in mind that we are performing an aerobic activity (in the presence of oxygen) and that it requires a certain effort on the part of our organism, so it will need to breathe more air than if we are sitting quietly or simply walking.
Breathing through the mouth in small mouthfuls will make it possible for us to get more oxygen to our lungs (and from there to our muscles through our blood) very quickly. If you are going to make a big effort, such as doing a series or a sprint, you can also incorporate inspiration through the nose to increase the amount of air inhaled.
Set the pace of your breathing as you run
So that our breathing doesn’t get out of control while we’re running (we’re always talking about a fixed rhythm in which we’re comfortable), a good idea might be to make it “fit” with our strides. The usual rhythm to follow in these cases is usually 2:2 or 3:3, using two or three strides respectively to inhale and two or three strides to exhale the air.
In the case of making a great effort running at higher speed, we can inhale every less time, making our body enter more oxygen, carrying for example a pattern of 1:2: one stride to take air and two strides to release it.
Both in the case of rhythm training and in the case of series or sprints, it is important that at all times we maintain a good posture that allows optimal oxygen to enter the body: that is, an upright back, open chest and shoulders slightly backwards. If we bend forward, something that usually happens when we are very tired, what we get is to hinder the entry of oxygen into our body, thus having the opposite effect to the desired.