Connect the Dots Ginger | Becky Allen: Running Tips And Tricks: Breathing

Friday, July 11, 2014

Running Tips And Tricks: Breathing

I really love doing the 4 miler training program! I am meeting so many people each and every week and my goal is to talk to at least 5 new people and get to know them. Since I am a pink lady I often get asked questions about running. I am no expert on running but I tell them what works for me and we go from there. So today the topic is on BREATHING!

QUESTION: This is my first time adding running into my walking and I am having a hard time breathing. I can't catch my breath at all. What do I do?

Answer: You are exerting your body more than you have in a very long time. This is common. You are working hard. So your body is following suit. The harder we work the more our breath is shallow and rapid.

So First, when running breathing through your mouth so you are getting a full breath and not a constricted breath. Then, Focus on breathing in and out with the rhythm of your steps. I like to vary between breathing in for 3 steps and out for 2 or in for 2 and out for 2, depending on the speed and length of my run, hills or no hills and how humid it is.

Next, deep breaths are also key. Make sure when you are breathing you are breathing down into your belly and not into your lungs. (I am kind of a master at this as this is how you teach breathing for an instrument and since I teach french horn I talk about deep breathing ALL THE TIME!) Try right now, take a deep breath...ok now answer me this. Did you fill your chest (did your chest rise?) Or did your breath go into your belly (making your belly stick out a little more?) As females we don't like making our belly stick out and we actually have great abs because we suck in our bellies without thinking about it. But when running we need to be relaxed but stable in our abs and core and our breath should fill our belly not our lungs. NO SHALLOW BREATHS!

TIP: Practice deep breathing to a steady beat before you run to get a feel for how to fill your belly and not your lungs. Sit on the couch and put on your favorite moderate paced song and tap your foot to keep the beat. Breath in for 3 stomps filling all the way to your belly and out for 3 exhaling all of the air. And repeat a ton to get a good feel for it. Then try when running.

Question: Ouch! I am finally running and I am keeping my breathing under control but after some time I get a cramp in my side. How do I not get that or make it to go away?

Answer:  Welcome to the world of YOU ARE WORKING YOUR LUNGS AND THEY ARE FIGHTING YOU! But guess what? You are strong and your body will adjust over time to this and the stitch will go away. Or maybe every single time you run, at 17 minutes in, you will get a cramp in your right side just under your ribs and it feels like you can't take another breath but by 19 minutes it is gone and whew you can keep going! Welcome to my world!

Seriously, when I was running at a 12 min/mile at 17 min (1.5 miles) I always, ALWAYS got a cramp in my side for 2 minutes. I think though at some point during running you might always get a stitch because you are working your lungs so hard. I got one every time while training for my half marathon. Either you just get used to it as you train more or here is a tip on how to make them go away!

TIP: This was taught to me last year by another pink lady, Janet. Going back to foot falls. When you get a stitch reverse your foot falls with your breathing. HUH!?! Ok so if you are breathing in for 2 and out for 2, it is easier to think about, stick with me here, Ok so every time you start to breath in your right foot goes down. Then when you start to breath out your right foot goes down again. Now Switch it to have your breath begin with your left foot and out with your left foot. I don't know why this works but seriously IT DOES! And it works FAST! SUPER FAST! Maybe it gets your mind thinking about something else other than the pain I have no idea but it works!

QUESTION:  I hack up a lung every time I run. Am I ok?

ANSWER: This goes back to  YOU ARE WORKING YOUR LUNGS AND THEY ARE FIGHTING YOU! So my husband when he would do his Army physical fitness test he would push himself super hard with his running to make sure he came in at a good time. Often he would cough a ton afterwards and once he even coughed up blood. Just a little bit.(EWWWW) Well your lungs are being worked a ton. This is where training comes in. When we are training for a race we slowly increase our speed and increase our distance. We don't go out there and kill it every time and push ourselves to the max. And if you push too hard too fast your lungs are gong to fight you. Slowly increase your mileage and speed over weeks not a day. My hubs could run, but he would push himself too much on testing days. DON'T DO THAT!

Tip: If you notice that if you are coughing a lot after running, and it is super humid out. Next time slow down just a bit. The air is super thick because it is not moving at all. Our bodies have to work harder to move the air in and out of our lungs. Take it easy and don't over do it!

Running is meant to be fun. Don't over exert yourself because you want to keep coming back for more! Hope these tips help you in your training for your race or your everyday fun run!

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