Don’t Forget to Breathe

Wednesday morning I didn’t run.

I was tired and decided to run in the afternoon instead.

And incredibly, I didn’t come up with any excuses and went for a run before Balance. In fact, I was feeling pretty stressed and instead of letting stress and fatigue talk me out of the run, I thought “Come on! I need me some endorphins!” I was really hoping to run off my day, and come out feeling AWESOME on the other end.

The objective was a 25 minute moderate run. I was aiming for 4km in that time, since I didn’t make that target on Monday.

Wednesday 25 1 Wednesday 25 2

And indeed, I managed to accomplish 4km in 25 minutes. But it was not without its challenges.

I ran without the dog and I think my running was a bit more even because I wasn’t mucking about with the lead and her direction or needs.

I did stop to walk a few times. Once (that longer section of ‘slow’ in the timing chart below) because two dogs came barrelling up at me braking very loudly and ’rounding me up’. Although I don’t think either of them were going to do anything dangerous, I certainly wasn’t going to test the theory by running and having them chase me, so I slowed down and used my firm “No, bad dog” voice.  Their owner called them off and I headed off again, steady steady.

Wednesday 25 4Wednesday 25 3

Now, the BIG thing about this run was my breathing!

My training effect shows 4.0, which means it’s “greatly increasing” my fitness level. I think this is just because I could not breathe properly on this run, which would have kept my heart rate up higher than usual.

Breathing is so unconscious that we take it for granted, but I’ve found that breathing comfortably when running makes a whole world of difference to the quality and comfort of my run.


Years ago, I had a friend tell me you’re supposed to breathe 3 short breaths in and one long breath out when you run, which she had interpreted to be like Lamaze breathing – you know, what they do on TV when someone is going into labour? – three short sharp intentional breaths in he-he-he and one long slow breath out hooooooo. 

I found this very difficult and what I realised later is that you want about equal length breaths in and out, but on the in-breath, you want your diaphragm relaxed enough that each strike of the foot interrupts the breath for just a split second, so you have an unintentional he-he-he and a long controlled breath out hoooo. Both last 2-3 strides, but the in-breath is ‘gently broken’.

I don’t know if anyone else feels/breathes like this, but it certainly is comfortable for me.

But today, I was breathing hard and fast. One breath per stride – in-out-he-ho. I kept thinking “I am going to hyperventilate, this is silly!”

I didn’t hyperventilate, but I was certainly labouring. Slowing to walk allowed me to catch my breath and breathe relaxed like that for a few paces, but it simply didn’t last.

Wednesday 25 5

Maybe it was just because I was carrying stress with me on the run so I couldn’t relax enough to get my breath in the rhythm? Maybe it’s because I was just *that* tired because I was running run number three in as many days when I’ve been a lazy old coot and haven’t run more than once or twice a week (and short runs at that) for the last two weeks?

Either way, my laboured breathing was REALLY evident to me.

I’ve also been told to breathe in through my nose and out through my mouth, but I am a 100% mouth-breather when I run. I just don’t feel like I get enough air fast enough when I run with my mouth closed. Get me moving briskly, and my mouth just falls straight open. I did try this as well on my run, but it was pointless. I should simply know better 🙂

Anyway, here’s hoping my next run is more relaxed and the breathing feels right again.

I’m curious, all you runners out there, do you have any particular or preferred breathing method? Are you conscious or unconscious of how your breath makes you feel on your runs?


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