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TOPIC: Trouble breathing while running?

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July 6, 2011 2:39 PM
I feel like I'm having some trouble breathing while running and was wondering if anyone had suggestions to help. I'm relatively fit (run 5k+ a few times a week, ride horses, strength train a few times a week) and young, but I've always felt like I've had weak lungs. My running isn't hindered by my legs getting tired or anything that I hear others complain about -- it's that I literally can't catch a breath. Obviously it's harder to breathe when working out, but I feel like I struggle more than I should. I'm a shallow breather and find it hard to get a full breath when running, and I'm not very consistent when counting my breaths along with my strides (I'll take in air for three strides, let it out for four, take it in for two, let it out for two, feel like I'm dying, take it in for five, let it out for two...). Is there anything I can do to help this, or do I just really need to concentrate on pacing my breaths more than I have been?
July 6, 2011 2:45 PM
your stance can have a lot to do with this as well as your steps as you breath, a lot of people take a breathe with each step so you end up breathing too fast. you need to do 1 breath for 2 steps. hold your shoulders back and maintain a good posture
July 6, 2011 2:46 PM
One thing I found helpful for me I discovered during my Army Basic Training was doing the cadences. :D

So now when I run, I try to sing with whatever is playing if it has lyrics; if it doesn't then I'm not doing breathing exercises for that section. And note, I said try... Even when I'm not running I can't sing very well, but meh, I'm not doing it for the pleasure of others, I'm doing it in an attempt to assist lung capacity. :D

When I'm doing my C25K runs now though, the music I listen to (has the timing queues, no extra app needed :D) doesn't have lyrics, so I've had to focus more - I credit Wii Fit's "Deep Breathing" game for helping me here, I just imagine seeing the blue circle while I run. :D

*Sorry for the edits, computer is being a little wonky so I saved quickly in case it decided to not let me post.
Edited by gothicprophet On July 6, 2011 2:52 PM
July 6, 2011 2:47 PM
July 6, 2011 2:47 PM
i'm the same way!
July 6, 2011 2:48 PM
It could possibly be allergies/maybe a touch of asthma... I think you should talk to your doctor about that though.
July 6, 2011 2:48 PM
Something I have used to help with my lung capacity is Oxycise! by Jill Johnson. I don't do the whole system, but her basic breathing technique helped a LOT. I have asthma so breathing during exercise has always been difficult for me (which might contribute to my weight gains throughout my childhood). Oxycise! really helped me. I do the technique 15 minutes a day and I can now run and use the elliptical longer than I ever had before. It feels kind of silly to do it, but I swear it helps! lol
July 6, 2011 2:48 PM
No advice - I have the SAME problem.
July 6, 2011 2:48 PM
When I first started training for 5K's I had a similar problem. I realized I was hunching my shoulders and not taking as deep a breath as I could every so often. What worked for me was relaxing my shoulders, working on good posture and forcing myself to take a deep breath (as deep as you can get) every 3rd or 4th breath. Good Luck!
July 6, 2011 2:48 PM
Really focus on your breathing. Inhale for a count of three, exhale for a count of three, and repeat.

Good luck!
July 6, 2011 2:53 PM
Similar to the person who said one breath per two strides... I was trained by an Army Major for a short stint and she passed along a trick a Marine had taught her. Think about running in paces of four. Two steps to breath in and two to let it out. Now when you let it out you say (I usually am very quiet under my breath if in a public place) go Ooohhh Rah!!!! (Marine's cheer) drinker

So it goes like this... Step Step *breathing In* Step "Oohhhh" Step "Rahhhh" REPEAT.

:) Hope that helps! When the run gets more intense, breath or yell louder... it is a really great release! It works, promise.

Edited by SeattleLady On July 6, 2011 2:54 PM
July 6, 2011 2:56 PM
Proper breathing is essential and I, personally, had a hard time with that at first.

You really benefit from diaphragmatic breathing when running. I discovered that the more I thought about the breathing, I would tend to stress myself and then my breathing became more labored and then focusing on how labored it was made it even worse.

If you have never done any research on diaphragmatic breathing, you can look it up, but essentially it is breathing deeply into your lower abdomen and not shallowly into the chest cavity. It's part of the relaxation techniques they teach in meditation. When I get a side stitch, I know instantly I've not been breathing deeply enough.

I don't struggle with it very much these days and that is because I use a few weird 'tricks', but they work for me. Maybe they will work for you too?

1) When I'm running, I visualize that each breath I'm taking is entering and exiting through my belly button. That forces me to breath as deeply as possible, which allows the body to most efficiently use the oxygen you are taking in. Once I started doing that, my endurance doubled :)

2) I also breathe in for two strides and out for three. It's what works for me and everyone is different. If you can find a cadence that works for you, it can make a big difference.

3) When I find myself focused on my breathing (because I am struggling with it), I try to re-focus myself on my legs, my gait ... anything but my breathing. I usually focus on my legs/stride, being light on my feet, etc and by not focusing on my breathing, it eventually evens out.
July 6, 2011 3:24 PM

It could possibly be allergies/maybe a touch of asthma... I think you should talk to your doctor about that though.

I agree. My dad is a lifetime runner, and a few years ago he couldn't breathe while running, so he went to the doctor to get it checked out. He ended up having pulmonary embolisms. You probably don't have that, but it would be better to get this checked out because it could be a dangerous health condition.
January 19, 2012 1:27 PM
i have started doing that too, singing while i run. really does help. trying to get my kids to learn that so they stop slowing me down with the stitch

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