No More Shallow Breathing! Why You Should Breathe Deeply When Running

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Nix that shallow breathing and reap the benefits of deep, regulated breaths to help you run better, ward off anxiety and enjoy running more.

Editor’s note: This is a part of a weekly series featuring training, running and motivational tips from marathoner @trackclubbabe. Tune in every Tuesday for her newest tip. 

“BREATHING SHALLOW IS A FEAR RESPONSE.” I heard this on a documentary and it really resonated with me. During past workouts, my husband, @tunderface, noted how shallow my breathing was. I sometimes work myself up to the point where I can’t breathe deeply at all – and that’s a problem! Here’s how I manage my breathing when running:

Why Should You Breathe Deeply When Running?

If you’re not breathing deeply enough, you’re not getting sufficient oxygen. This means that your muscles aren’t getting the oxygen they need and will fatigue far more quickly. Lack of oxygen may also lead to muscle spasms and muscular pain. When you consider that you’re literally leading to the inevitable fatigue of your muscles by restricting the oxygen they’re getting, that places far more importance on monitoring your breathing while in motion, don’t you think? If you struggle to breathe deeply when running (like me!), try these tips:

How to Breathe Deeply When Running

Pay Attention to Your Breathing

Notice when you’re taking shallow breaths and correct by taking a BIG breath and exhaling forcefully. Repeat this until you start to relax and your breathing becomes more regulated.

Focus on Belly Breathing

Breathe from your belly. You may notice that when you’re taking shallow breaths, you’re not breathing from your belly but, rather, from your chest.

Manage Anxiety Before Your Races/Workouts

This is a big one. When you have an anxious response to race day or your routine workouts, you use up energy uselessly. This affects your breathing (shallow breathing = panicked). The first step to correcting this is to recognize that this is an anxiety-based response and figure out how to counteract it, whether it be with race visualization, prayer, a song that keeps you calm pre-race or a mantra that helps to relieve anxiety and stress. It’s helpful to figure out how to manage the pressure so you have the opportunity to perform your best.

I found that ignoring the breathing component and allowing myself to panic/stress out during races sapped me of my energy (that I most definitely needed later in the race). I’m going to work on this. And if the root of my shallow breathing is fear, I need to continue to remind myself that there is nothing to fear. I’m working on focusing on the privilege and joy of racing and not allowing the pressure to crush me.❤️

trackclubbabeAuthor Bio: @trackclubbabe, AKA Kimberly Clark Underwood, started running in 2012 to see if she could train for a marathon & fell in love with running. She went from hoping to run 10 minute miles in the marathon to aiming for a sub 3 marathon. She posts the highs & lows of training + everything that has helped her to improve on her IG.

2 thoughts on “No More Shallow Breathing! Why You Should Breathe Deeply When Running

  1. Ken says:

    I believe the key to breathing correctly (deeply) is learning how to exhale. It’s counter intuitive, but if you learn to exhale you will naturally be calm and breath correctly. I think more articles need to be written about exhaling. I discovered this while learning how to swim and learning how to remain calm (exhaling properly) as opposed to panicking (not exhaling properly which leads to shallow breathing)in the water.

    • skerstetter says:

      Hi Ken – Great feedback! Thank you. We’ll look into writing a follow-up article about exhaling.

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