Beginner Runners - How To Breathe Properly

by Michael Stapenhurst - Date: 2008-08-13 - Word Count: 557 Share This!

One of the biggest problems for beginner runners is not knowing how to breathe properly. If you are just starting out you will know how discouraging it feels to be out of breath after exercising for only short time. So what's the solution?

First of all it helps to understand why we start breathing hard after exerting ourselves.

Why we get out of breath
In non-scientific terms out bodies simply need more oxygen to perform an exercise than we can supply through our breathing. When you first start out on a run you don't notice your breathing, but after a while you'll start to feel out of breath. This point of needing more oxygen is called our anaerobic threshold.

How Training Helps
If you are just beginning an exercise program and are out of shape, your anaerobic threshold level will be quite low, compared to that of a more experienced athlete. You goal is to gradually increase that level through training until you can run long distances comfortably without getting out of breath. People who run marathons are a great example of this - their bodies tire out long before they are ever out of breath.

As a beginner runner you have to focus on increasing your anaerobic threshold without being discouraged before you get there. Don't go out with more experienced runners, you'll be really struggling to try and keep up. Don't try to run every day either - your body needs time to recover.

Here are some more key points for you to follow:

Run - Walk Combination
It's best to start with a run-walk routine. A good place to start is with a 3-4 minute slow jog, followed by a 3-4 minute walk. Every day or so, gradually increase the running time while deceasing the walking time until you reach say 12 minutes running to 3 minutes walking. At this point you should notice a marked difference in your ability to run without getting out of breath. If you still are a little breathless, chances are you are running too fast. Slow down!

You should soon reach the stage where you can run 20 to 30 minutes without needing a break. Your anaerobic threshold is increasing! Depending on your current fitness level, age, weight etc it could take anywhere from 2 weeks to two months to reach this point. Don't give up though - it will happen!

Nose or mouth?
Many people ask whether you should breathe through your nose or your mouth when you are running. As you start out you will be trying to get as much oxygen as possible and most people at this level breathe with both their nose and mouth. As you get fitter you'll find that you will naturally inhale mostly through your nose and exhale through your mouth.

Deep Breathing?
Don't try to breathe too deeply as you run or you'll run out of oxygen. There's a general rule of thumb that says you should be able to carry on a conversation while you are running. Again, as you get in better shape this should happen naturally.

Your fitness level and breathing pattern are closely related. It takes some time before you'll be able to run consistently without getting out of breath. Simply be patient and monitor your progress to see the improvement. Keeping a running log is a great way to do this. See the link in the author bio' below.

Related Tags: running, anaerobic threshold, beginner runner

Mike is long time fitness enthusiast and runner. He has completed over 25 marathons and is the co-author of the book 'Marathon Training Tips'. You can get a personalized running log to record your running progress from Personal Logs

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