Easy running and nose breathing

I went out this morning to do W1R2 of the Bridge to 10K programme 4x10 minutes with 1 min walk between. I had done the identical W1R1 before - but had gone at it like "a bull in a china shop" as I usually do, managed to finish it but only just. This time I was determined to do it slowly - an "easy" run - I will talk to my imaginary friend as I do it.

I took my heart rate monitor with me - had not been using it much - but wanted to keep my HR down to around 70% of my max. All went OK for the first 2 repeats 22 minutes - and then I noticed something - I had not really realised it , but in my attempt to run slowly , easily and without breathing hard , I had started out breathing in and out through my nose only and I was still doing it after 22 minutes. I continued on nose breathing - and whenever I started to feel like I would like to start breathing through my mouth, I slowed down a bit and once again the nose breathing was OK for me.

It's almost like using my nose as a "steam control valve" . I do recall being told to breathe in through my nose in the early part of the C25K programme - and basically refused to do it. Perhaps I am now seeing why they said to do it??? To slow us down so we could easily finish the task at hand??


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  • For every expert offering advice on the Internet, there is another offering the opposite advice.

    Having said that, this article is interesting naturalrunningcenter.com/20... -- particularly in regards to "overbreathing" The comments section is also very interesting.

  • Another light bulb moment perhaps? I'll try this when I go out later today. Strangely enough, I noticed the other day that I was breathing through my nose on my cool down walk after an easy run, which makes a change from my normal feeling of "just short of gasping for breath".

  • Hmm. Managed the warm up walk and first 3 minutes ok, but then my nose did its usual trick of running so that made it rather more tricky and I gave up trying for most of the run, then I think I'd forgotten to think about it by the time I got to the cool down walk, so I have no idea how I was breathing then!

  • Well It could possibly be a light bulb moment . There is quite a lot on this subject matter on the Internet - including the subject of "over breathing" ,. I have already discovered this latter matter personally and have come to realise that it is possible to intake too much air . Our bodies need just the right amount of air - not too much or too little. Have a look at this ultimatefitness.wordpress.c... and this naturalrunningcenter.com/20...

    Basically they say the same thing as the proponents of transitioning to "natural" running - it takes time to transition and you can't try it once and say "that doesn't work for me"

    I read one article that contends that our bodies are meant to take air in through our noses - and only through our mouths in an emergency,crisis, fight for your life situation. Running in such an "emergency, fight for your life situation" is not desirable as a norm.

    Interesting stuff which I am definitely intending to explore further.

  • This is really interesting. I find breathing difficult to 'manage' when running - no tired legs, no achey bits - just t he sense that if I could just get more air in, I might speed up a bit - yesterday managed a PB mile at under 10 minutes ( for me a triumph! - 57 and only started running in January!) so there is definitely lots to think about, work on and develop through aiming for better breathing. Thanks for all links.

  • I think that I have largely overcome breathing problems when running. I never really used to think much about it in the past -- but then again I could not run in the past. I have concentrated a lot on rhythmic breathing - whereby you breathe in and out in time to the beat of your feet on the pavement. I had noticed already that a good way to slow my running down to almost a "conversational level of effort" was to increase the number of foot beats to 4 for breathing in and 4 for breathing out .

    These articles seem to be saying that although our bodies do need more air when we run faster , there is such a thing as too much air - which can actually tire you. I believe that I had already partly realised that before reading these articles. It is definitely something I am going to play around with as I do longer and longer runs

  • I find it really difficult to breathe in through my nose, too. I almost feel as though my nostrils are too small for the job!

    I've been trying to breathe in through my nose but a bit through my mouth as well, goodness knows what kind of face I am making - LOL.

  • Apparently you can get plastic strips from the chemist that stick onto the outside of your nose - kind of across the bridge of the nose which cause the nostrils to open up more.

  • Ah do you mean the ones for snorers? Could do with some of those for the other half! ;)

    Good idea but I fear I'd look like Rocky Balboa with a hoody on and a strip on my nose haha! Might give it try though one day if I continue to struggle :) x

  • Oh Bazza, I have to thank you for this post. I tried exclusive nasal breathing today and it was so EASY. So much so that I was afraid I was doing something wrong as I was not panting like a thirsty dog for the first time in my run. It really is so cool, the basic science of it. Nasal breathing will keep your heart rate low which in return will not make you tired. But I wonder, isn't elevated HR the purpose of exercise?

  • My understanding is that there are different HR zones to exercise in. The lower Aerobic zones are supposedly good for developing stamina/endurance - while the higher ones ( which we use with fastish interval training) develops speed. It is said that people who train always/only in the higher heart rate zones develop speed but not necessarily endurance and the higher HR can eventually cause injury/sickness eg negatively affects immune system. Phil Maffetone has a lot to say about this.

    It seems that, after graduation, a good general plan is to do one session of long (endurance) running each week, a set of intervals and maybe a 5K race (Parkrun)

    However, as I have said, for every thing you read on the Internet , there is an opposite opinion. To me , a mix of easy runs and hard runs makes sense -- but I have been tending to run hard every day , even when using run/walk. I am going to try to have alternate hard/moderate/easy days but learning to run "easy" has been difficult for me. I am thinking that I may have now cracked that problem (for me at least)

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