THE “JUST” BREATHE SERIES
Part II: Breathing and…. RUNNING
Do you run? Have you had a nagging injury on one side that just won’t go away? If so, it’s not an exaggeration to say that this technique I’m about to share with you will change your life. What’s the technique? Even-odd breathing. All you have to do is alternate between even and odd stepcounts as you inhale and exhale.
What do I mean? If you inhale for 2 steps, which is an even number, exhale over the course of an odd number of steps, like 3 or 5. Or if you inhale for 3 steps, which is an odd number, exhale over the course of an even number of steps, like 2 or 4. That’s it. Easy peasy.
Why does this matter? When you exhale, your diaphragm relaxes…and the rest of your body will want to follow suit. Your core will then become less stable and, in turn, the rest of your body is less stable and *voila* you are prime for injury… on that same side… where you’re always exhaling…because that’s just what you do naturally (or you read one of those well-intentioned but misguided blogs about even inhalesand exhales).
How to: If you’re still breathing in and out with the same step count for your inhale and exhale, STOP. Take your headphones off for a few runs and tune into your breathing. You’ll notice a difference on your first run with this technique. Within a few runs, this technique will become second nature. Play with the cadence of your breath until you find what works for you. Remember that, like all changes, this may take some practice. If you fall back into old patterns (even/even or odd/odd), don’t worry; just return your focus to your breathing and get your even/odd or odd/even groove back.
Also keep in mind that you can change up your breathing at any time as your speed or course change (e.g., a long uphill or your sprint home). Personally, I’m a “2 steps inhale-3 steps exhale” runner 90% of the time, sometimes with a 4-5 or 5-6 thrown in now and again for variety. Want a more technical description? Click here.
Mouth or Nose? Up to you. Yup, I also heard those tidbits about nasal breathing increasing CO2 saturation in the blood, but breathing through my nose while running seems like sipping coffee through one of those little red stirrers rather than just taking a gulp. I’ll save nasal breathing for other activities, thanks (more on those later in this series).
Bonus: You likely do even a mini warmup for your legs before a run (if not, you should). Why not warm up your lungs as well? For more on how that can improve your performance, check out this coverage of a University of Portsmouth study.