Breathing, the simply act of inhaling and exhaling, can be complicated. Much like running, the act of putting one foot in front of the other is a lot more complicated than one would expect. Watch the super talented singer who has mastered breathing. This mastery allows them to hit and hold the long high notes. Better yet, the swimmer has mastered breathing, if for no other reason than they do not want to get a mouth full of water. As runners we occasionally get caught up in our sport and forget some basics like breathing. We start our runs in a race or group environment and the excitement causes us to breath high in our chest rather than " belly" breathing. The short, high breathing can cause us to hyperventilate or get the dreaded "runners stitch". Here are some tips that will make your stitch go away and get you more relaxed in your breathing, thereby, allowing you to run faster.
Stand up tall, shoulders back and put one hand on your belly. Purse your lips and fully exhale. When we fully exhale we do not need to think about breathing in, as nature does this as part of our survival technique. We breathe in relaxed and "belly breathe" when we fully exhale. This deep breathing is both more relaxed and more efficient in the use of oxygen. Keep your breathing relaxed, deep, rhythmic and to time with your running stride by concentrating on fully exhaling. Inhale in a relaxed full deep breath. So now as you run, concentrate on the upper body being relaxed and rhythmic with the power of your running focused on your hip down. The initial power is coming from the push off of the ankle and the glide and relaxed lift of the knee coming from the hip flexors. Save the huffing and puffing for the big bad wolf stories. Now you know why one of the most common things a coach gets the athlete to concentrate on is to relax. The more relaxed we are the higher the level of performance. Enjoy your running.