Active Runners should Learn to Breathe Through their Noses

13th June 2019
Breathing is one of the key aspects to have an optimal performance when doing any kind of sport, especially cardio. Learn to breathe through your nose to get the most out of your training.

Breathing is one of the most important elements for runners. Even though some people may think it’s just about inhaling and exhaling, the truth is that the way we breathe is a much more complex issue. Therefore, active runners should pay special attention to those kinds of details.

Most of the time, people don’t stop to think about how they breathe. And the truth is that very few know how to do it properly. However, breathing techniques completely determine the performance of anyone who does any kind of physical activity.

Breathing is an important process when we work out. That’s why it’s important to learn to breathe properly and become familiar with all the information that may be useful to improve our results.

Why does our body need oxygen?

Oxygen is the main element that provides energy for our body. It helps in processes such as cellular combustion. However, we must keep in mind that when we inhale a breath of air, we’re only getting about 20 percent of oxygen.

Woman trying to breathe through her nose

When an athlete starts running, their muscles demand a lot more oxygen. A lack of oxygen can cause muscle fatigue, a lack of concentration and a noticeable decrease in their performance. If the deficit is too large, it can even cause hyperventilation and dizziness.

The number of inhalations per minute will depend on the pace of each runner, which will also determine the amount of oxygen they require. There’s a directly proportional relationship: the higher the pace, the more oxygen they need.

Is it better to breathe through your mouth or your nose?

This is a constant dilemma within runners; there are many different stances. One of the most common options is to breathe through the mouth. Athletes should use this method when the pace of the race is very fast.

The reason why some people advise breathing through your mouth is that you’ll get more air this way. This translates into a higher oxygen percentage.

On the other hand, we have the option to breathe through the nose. This breathing technique is perfect when we’re running at a slow or moderate pace. It’s also very useful during the winter since air enters through the nasal cavities and warms before it reaches the lungs.

The problem with nasal breathing is that the muscles of the face are tenser. But no matter which method is being used, the important thing is that the runner is comfortable and performs properly.

Types of breathing when running

As we’ve already seen, breathing is more than inhaling and exhaling. There are several methods to do this. The first one is clavicular breathing, which consists of keeping your breath in the top part of your lungs. This type of breathing can interrupt your heart frequency and respiratory rate. For this reason, not many people recommend it.

Woman running while she breathes through her mouth

In second place we have abdominal breathing. It’s very beneficial but hard to learn. With abdominal breathing, you should breathe with the lower part of your lungs. This way your diaphragm will move down and your abdomen and belly will grow. It’s useful when you want to lower your heart rate.

In the third place, we have thoracic breathing. With this type of breathing, the air is trapped in the middle of your lungs, which causes your chest to inflate. You should never use this breathing method when running because it blocks the air from going to the rest of your body.

Lastly, we have diaphragmatic breathing. It’s based on breathing with your diaphragm. When you breathe this way, your stomach inflates and contracts. This modality combines the three methods we mentioned above. It’s the best breathing technique for active runners.

An active runner knows how to breathe

It’s important to recognize your own breathing method and if you’re performing it correctly or not. This will help improve your method if needed. To do it, you can go out and run as you usually do, paying attention to the way you inhale your breath.

If you feel short of breath or you’re constantly panting, that’s a clear sign that something is wrong. It could mean that oxygen is not getting to your muscles properly and this could compromise your efficiency when running. However, once you identify the problem, it’s time to fix it with practice and the tips we mentioned in this article.