Last Thursday, I tried rhythmic breathing while I ran. On Wednesday I finally got around to finishing the April Runner’s World Magazine and one of the last articles was all about breathing while you run. The article, written by Budd Coates and Claire Kowalchik, emphasized the fact that you’re most prone to stress injury when the beginning of an exhale coincides with a step (or the footstrike to be more precise). So using that information, Budd Coates figured that if all of your exhales were coinciding with the footstrike of one side (say, all left) you would be much more prone to injury on that side. The solution? Use a 2:3 ratio (exhaling for 2 steps, inhaling for 3), forcing you to be alternating the sides of the footstrikes with the exhale (exhale as you step on the left, and for the next set exhale as you step on the right).
While this may sound a little confusing, put into practice it makes much more sense. One thing that really helped me was to begin with the exhale as opposed to the inhale. For some reason this made picking up the rhythm much easier for me. I found that I had to remind myself of the breathing pattern but it wasn’t too difficult and I did notice I was running faster as well. When I had to correct my breathing, I realized that my normal pattern had been 2:2 and most of my injuries are on my right side. Huh.
As per instructions in Runner’s World, I didn’t listen to music (“the beats of music will confuse the heck out of you”). While I was running last year I never listened to music (or timed my runs for that matter). Running was, and is, a therapeutic and relaxing thing to do, at least for me. Since I got my shiny new smartphone and have been using Nike+, I’ve been listening to music. I forgot how much this distracts from running and makes it harder to really clear my head while I run. The rhythm was a little hard to pick up, but it gave me something simple to focus on which definitely helped me relax. (There was another article on this in the April Runner’s World that can be found here
While there were times when I was struggling on Thursday, during my long run on Saturday I realized that I started breathing with the 2:3 pattern on my own. Crazy right! As the article says, when you increase your intensity you may need to switch your pattern a little, which I had to do on the final uphill of my route. But overall, I’m definitely falling into the 2:3 pattern. And the music? Well. I still listen
to one song as I come back onto campus to finish strong, but I forgot how much I love listening to my footsteps and breathing while I run. At the risk of sounding cliché, running turns into (1) me time and (2) a quiet space for me.
Do you focus on your breathing while you run? Would you ever try the 2:3 pattern?