Running and Breathing

This is completely off topic for the week, but I'm so excited, I have to share!

I'm not only happy because it's over - I'm happy because it went well!

I'm not only happy because it's over - I'm happy because it went well!


Running became part of my life again this year after several on-again, off-again years. It's been mostly okay. It feels good to have run, losing weight, in better shape - but at times the actually running has been awful. I'm slower than I'd like to be, but what troubles me more is that at times I have trouble breathing. 

I walked during the Thanksgiving Day "Hungry Turkey" 5K not because I was tired or injured, but because I couldn't catch my breath. Between my faster-than-usual pace and the cold, cold wind, it wasn't working for me. I thought I might pass out more than once. I have been considering going to the doctor to see if I have exercise-induced asthma so I can get an inhaler. 

Current Action

Then I read this article from Runner's World: Running on Air: Breathing Technique. I didn't exactly follow the recommendations of the article. I know how to belly breathe, so I just went out and tried it. It's just running and breathing, and it was already broken, so why not? 

The author of the article recommends counting each footfall and matching your breath so you're inhaling for three steps, then exhaling for two. This method maximizes the strength of your core, because you're stronger when you're inhaling, and alternates the foot you have down when you exhale (because of the odd number of breaths), which should minimize injuries, because the side you exhale on is more vulnerable. 

So I guess the reason we hold our breath when we're waiting for something is to make ourselves stronger? Hmmm...

Anyhow, I could not for the life of me count footfalls and monitor my breathing at the same time. Then I couldn't inhale for longer than I exhaled. But I could belly breathe!

So I decided to breathe in for one count and out for two. And it worked! I skipped my beloved audiobook so I could pay attention to my breath. It can be surprisingly difficult to pay attention to breathing! I had the same problem during my week of meditating

When I managed to do it, though, I felt great, like I could run forever! Usually I'm counting down the seconds to stopping. 

I ran seven miles and felt fine, after more than a week off (no way was I running in Vail - talk about not being able to breathe). And after five miles, it suddenly got a lot easier. The breathing pattern felt natural and I felt strong. I wanted that seven miles so badly I passed my street not once, but twice (I'm really bad at estimating distances). Normally I see my street and stop like I'm programmed for that or something. 

Rambling Conclusion

Breathing patterns while running are something I'll continue to work on. Maybe I'll eventually get to the point where I do exactly what the article suggests, but even if I don't, I'm still quite a bit better off than I was. 

I guess this could count as meditating while running, maybe, since I was so focused on my breathing? 

This coming Sunday I will be running a 15K with Dave, so I feel like I found this breathing technique just in time. Emma, Sam and Eric will also be there, if Eric can still sign up, unless he's changed his mind - again. I hope to be all smiles in the pics in that race review, now that I can breathe. 


PS - This breathing technique generated a lot more spit than my old one. The amount of saliva I produced during this run was shocking. But I didn't sweat as much as usual, so apparently the breathing technique I used is canine. ;)

PSS - While we're on the subject of spit and running - once I learned to spit while running and not get it all over myself, I never stopped. Well, this spring I did a race with Sam at the Missouri Botanical Gardens. They open the gardens early in the morning a couple times a year for runners. It's neat to run amongst the plants. So guess what I did. Yep. I spit on a plant. Probably a special plant, with a label and everything, but I didn't stop to check. Sometimes it's best to keep moving...