One of the most common questions people new to running ask me is how they can get their breathing right. They may have been following one of the many plans out there or have been going out by themselves and enjoying their running but finding the breathing bit hard. If you’ve experienced this, then you are not alone. Below I’ve put some tips that may help you.
The first thing I would say is that it sounds like you’re running too fast. Even if you think that you’re slow, the intensity/effort is probably too much at this stage. What we’re commonly taught in the various programs online is how long to run for rather than how it should feel. If you work on how it should feel (effort), then you’ll likely progress more quickly. However, this is one of the hardest things for newer runners (and some experienced ones) to get their heads around.
So, if all this in mind, here are my top 5 tips for mastering your easy effort level:
- The talk test – you should be able to talk in sentences between breaths. If you run with others, then you should be able to hold down a conversation without struggling.
- Sing a song in your head – you don’t have to do this out loud, although if you do nobody is going to want to kidnap you! Try to sing a song to yourself and aim to be able to sing a line of a verse of your favourite song between breaths.
- Focus on feeling comfortable – this is one of the big ones. Try to relax and focus on feeling comfortable when you run. Sometimes you can overthink things. Just try to feel comfortable.
- Feel like you can just keep running – instead of looking at your watch and checking your pace. Try running at a pace that you feel you could keep running at for much longer than you need to.
- Run easy – don’t concentrate on your pace, just focus on effort and it feeling easy. If it feels too hard then it is not easy. If it doesn’t feel easy, slow down until it does feel easy. Don’t look at your watch, other than the time or distance you are running.
Different runs require different effort levels. If you are doing an interval or hill session, you are going to want (or need) to run at a faster pace (harder effort) than normal. However, when you do not have a specific session to do, or if you are a new/inexperienced runner, you will want to keep the effort level easy. This should be the case for about 75-80% of all of the miles you complete (this goes for elite athletes as well).
If you feel that you can follow the 5 steps above, you will be surprised how easy and comfortable your running will feel (it may take a couple of weeks of practice). You will then be able to run further than you thought you ever could.
Try it and see what happens. You might feel that you’re reducing your pace, however you won’t be there for long and you’ll likely be able to run for longer and recover better.
Let me know how you get on!
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Martin Hulbert Personal Trainer Leicester