Pay Attention To Breathing
How much focus have you given to breathing during your run? For me, this is the key element. It plays a greater role than physical fitness. From the start of my running adventure, I learned to pay attention to my breathing. It provides great insight as to how I am using energy.
To start, breaths need to be long and deep – down to the belly. This helps to provide oxygen to the blood and muscles. As Stu Mittleman describes in his book ‘Slow Burn’, your breath needs to reach the area (triangle) below the navel. This technique is not only used in running. Yoga and martial arts put great emphasis on the art of breathing.
Wether you breathe through the mouth or the nose, direct the air to the lower abdomen.
Deeper Breaths – Lower Heart Rate
Concentrated breathing to the lower abdomen works to lower your heart rate. As your breaths become longer and deeper, your body calms down and the heart rate reduces. This in turn helps to tap in to energy stored in body fat, rather than relying on fuel from sugar, which can quickly run out, especially on longer distances. Of course if you are sprinting, this will be difficult to achieve but in your distance runs, do focus more on how you breathe. I found this very useful and got into the right habit from the start. Whenever I feel fatigue during the run, the first thing I analyse is my breathing. I then concentrate more on that aspect of the run and it brings results.
Focus the Breath Where It Is Needed
Another interesting bit I discovered is that by focusing your breath to areas which are causing problems, you can eliminate them. What do I mean by that? Let’s say during a run you feel pain/aggravation in the thigh. Continuing running, start breathing deep, at the same time focusing in your mind on delivering the air to the thigh. Your brain is a great mechanism and knows best how to deal with problems. Focusing on the problem and steering the air with your mind, you are aiding the brain in resolving it quicker. Try it!
As I am making running a bigger part of my daily life, I am looking to study breathing in greater detail. It will improve my running performance as well as help with other health aspects. So take a deep breath, direct it to the lower abdomen and discover for yourself what vital role breathing has in our lives.