• Training Tips Breathe on step
    By Linda Freeman | April 13,2014
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    Photo by Adam Caira

    Breathing in time can help your racing and training.
    Breathing hard, gasping for breath, sucking wind is just a necessary evil when running. True or False.

    Recently I met with a group of 20 runners and walkers beginning to train for Montpelier’s annual 5k Corporate Cup Challenge. I was asked “how should I breathe?”

    The easy answer is to inhale and exhale regularly, deeply, rhythmically and in sync with your stride, mindset and intensity. Specifics, however, beg definition.

    During a lifetime of running and successful competition, Budd Coates settled on a system of breathing ratios that make sense. (see Running on Air, Coates, Budd and Kowalchick, Claire, Rodale, 2013) Breathing correctly not only enhances endurance and improves performance, but also contributes to injury prevention.

    Coates explains that “the greatest impact stress of running occurs when one’s footstrike coincides with the beginning of an exhalation.” Therefore, the classic 2:2 breathing pattern of inhale for 2 steps:exhale for 2 steps continually stresses one side of the body.

    Change your breathing to 3:2 (inhale 3 steps:exhale 2 steps) and you will systematically alternate the stress from right to left and thus reduce repetitive strain and potential injury.

    Coates suggests that the 3:2 breathing pattern works well for easy to moderate runs, but when the going gets tough (hilly or faster), seguing to a 2:1 pattern is more efficient.

    Coates’ system is complex, but armed with these basic concepts, you can give it a try. I often quip that “breathing is good,” but breathing is also a tool to be utilized mindfully. Whether you are running or riding, practicing yoga or meditating, lifting or sprinting, how you breathe is an important factor.
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