In the April issue of Runner’s World, there was an article about breathing technique. My run breathing has always left a little to be desired. As long as I have been running, I’ve not found a breathing rhythm that I feel really works for me, so this article really piqued my interest. The author, Budd Coates, proposes a breathing rhythm that has a 3-2 beat, where you inhale for three footfalls, then exhale for two. By doing this, you alternate which foot you land on with each exhale instead of the typical runner’s 2-2 beat and always exhaling on the same foot. He cites studies that show that injury is more likely on the side that runners normally exhale. The article goes on to discuss how to change your breathing pattern to a 3-2 beat.
I decided that today was as good a day as any to evaluate my breathing during my 5 mile run and try the 3-2 rhythm.
First, I tried to figure out what my current breathing pattern is. I think my years of swimming conditioned my lungs to breathe in a certain way for swimming, and somehow that has carried over into running. In swimming, I breathe on every third stroke, and in running for the most part I breathe on every third footfall (3-3 beat). Frequently, I got out of sync, so I wasn’t consistently exhaling or inhaling on any particular foot. Whether that is what I do naturally or it was a side effect of consciously counting my breaths and footstrikes, I don’t know.
Once I had a decent idea of my natural breathing, I tried to get into the 3-2 rhythm. “Tried” was the operative word there. It was really tough to alter my exhales to be so much shorter. Every once in awhile, I managed to get into the rhythm pretty well and it actually felt pretty good, but it required a ton of concentration just to keep it up for 10 cycles or so. When my mind wandered, I found myself falling back into my normal breathing pattern.
Also, it was exceptionally windy today, with 30 mph gusts that made me feel like I was going backwards and took my breath away. This did not make breath training any easier! I plan to try again on a
non less windy day (let’s be honest, it’s never not windy in Kansas!). I think this is something that will take a lot of time to make it feel natural, but it’s the best argument I’ve ever heard for any particular breathing style. Since my natural breathing rhythm never really felt all that efficient, maybe this one will work better.
Have you heard of breath training or tried to alter your breathing to be more efficient?
5.01 miles run