Sigh… I’m a Chest-Breather

So, let’s start with the good news. Yesterday, I shaved 15 seconds off my pace.  I know it’s only 15 seconds but it is a goal I have been working on for a while. By February, I would like to shave at least another minute off of my pace. It still won’t put me in the same league as my running group but it will hopefully cure my fear of coming in dead last at Cowtown.

The not so good news: I will NEVER get any better or faster if I don’t learn how to breathe. Every time I run, I am gasping for air. I seem to have the same problem while boxing. (Yes, I said boxing. That’s a story for another post.) My trainer has to keep reminding me to breathe. For some reason, I barely breathe when I am active. After celebrating my achievement yesterday, I resolved to fix my breathing problem. I started with my favorite running source, Runner’s World. Their answer–I’m a chest breather and need to learn to be a belly breather. Here’s what the article says:

Most runners are “chest breathers”-not “belly breathers.” To help her clients see the difference, she has them run a mile at a pace that gets them huffing a bit. Then she has them stop and place one hand on their abdomen and one hand on their chest and watch. The lower hand should move with each breath, while the upper hand should remain relatively still (usually the opposite occurs). Every time you breathe in, your belly should fill up like a balloon. And every time you breathe out, that balloon should deflate. When you chest breathe, your shoulders get tense and move up and down. That’s wasted energy-energy you should conserve for running.

To learn to be belly breather, there is a pattern. I am supposed to coordinate my breathing with my steps and breathe with my mouth open (that will be interesting). Here’s how to develop the pattern:

Start with a 2-2 pattern-breathe in while stepping left, right; breathe out while stepping left, right. Advance to 3-3 (breathe in, step left, right, left; breathe out, step right, left, right), and then a 4-4 pattern.

While this doesn’t sound complicated, it does seem like a lot to focus on while running. I’m going to give this a try before my training session tomorrow. I’ll let you know how it goes.


One thought on “Sigh… I’m a Chest-Breather

  1. Avia,
    Sounds like you are doing great! Keep up the good work toward your running goals. As a personal trainer, I know it is difficult to stay on pace and continue to make progress. Especially when the improvement is as small as :15 sec.
    I am not much of a runner and really had not given the chest vs. belly breathing techniques much of a thought but I see the merits and applaud you for seeking ways to improve your times. It sounds like once you master the cadence of belly breathing you will be a pro and it will happen autonomously.
    BTW – Every time I see your blog it sends me into a tail spin craving a cookie. It is not good for my new nutrition plan but you have to live a little – right?
    Great job with your posts, I enjoy reading them.

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