In through your nose, out through your nose.
Apparently breathing through your nose is "the best way to breathe" and according to another blog I read; nose breathing is "scientifically superior" to all your other options. Ok, then. I mean...we all know mouth-breathers are idiots. (I didn't actually know that, but go look up mouth-breather in the dictionary and you'll see I'm not joking.)
Anyway. There has been talk recently in the news that because our nose filters out germs and helps prevent harmful bacteria from entering the body it's a smart (and more comfortable) way to breathe wearing a COVID mask. I get that. Let the nose do it's job!
If you've ever been to a yoga class, you have likely done some nose breathing exercises. Hold one nostril closed with your thumb and inhale, switch and hold the other nostril closed while you exhale. Insta-calm.
But, have you ever practiced nose breathing while running??
This is something I started practicing while experimenting with super easy, Zone One type running. If you want to slow your roll, stay focused, and maintain a good recovery pace, this is a great drill. Nose breathing can be especially helpful for newer athletes who can't help but feel "out-of-breath" or experience an uncomfortably high-heart rate whenever they try to run.
Our respiratory system is mind-blowingly complex. Humans breathe more than 20,000 times every day! Primarily a subconscious effort, breathing impacts the entire body. Breathing is literally what keeps us alive and we might go all day without giving it a thought. Often, it's not until you catch a cold or do a hard workout that you pay attention to your breath. So important, so ignored.
Let me get back to point. We head out every day (almost) to train our bodies, our muscles, our hearts, and don't typically realize we are training our respiratory system too. Without a strong and robust respiratory system it doesn't much matter how well every else works. No oxygen, no go.
Check out the workout we did tonight on the track. Try it yourself. Let me know how it goes.
10 minutes or two laps of nice easy running.
Then do at least 5 minutes of dynamic stretching and mobility.
2 laps (800m) breathing only through your nose.
1 lap (400m) just running easy and breathing normally
1 lap (400m) pushing your pace. Notice what happens to your breathing.
Return right away to the top of the set and repeat...
2 laps (800m) settling down and return to breathing only through your nose.
1 lap (400m) just running..
..and so on.
If you have time and have already been practicing nasal breathing, repeat this progression again.
You will have to run slowly. It will feel very weird! The hardest part is trying to calm down and return to breathing only through your nose after pushing your pace. This is really great practice for pacing and for settling down in a race when you get a bit out of control.
Your body is building up CO2 when you limit your air intake like this and that forces your respiratory tissue to relax and the muscles to get stronger. With regular practice you will be able to have more control over your breathing and calm yourself intentionally and effectively.
Eventually you may find that you can run faster and longer while maintaining this calm, controlled breathing.