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 breathing patterns while running
Rickshaw
Runworks 2005 5M Racer
San Francisco, CA
Joined: 26 Nov 2004
Posts: 1157

breathing patterns while running Posted: Fri Dec 17, 2004 10:57 am 

A few of the training books I have describe the common breathing patterns during running. That's something I'd never consciously considered before, and I've found it pretty interesting to pay attention to my breathing now during runs. The patterns are named numerically, like 3-2, which means you inhale for three steps then exhale for two steps.

If you've ever monitored your breathing, how well does your experience fit with these guidelines:

4-4 very easy running, probably too easy
3-3 easy running, long runs
2-2 tempo runs, harder workouts, and most races
2-1 the final push to the finish in a race

1-1 is not recommended for anything, and is essentially like hyperventillating. Also 3-2 or other patterns when the inhale is longer than the exhale are supposed to be good for getting rid of a side stitch.

The fit pretty well with my experience, expect I'm not sure I ever hit 2-1 at the end of a race. I also slip into 2-2 sometimes during easy runs, which if I notice it is my cue to back off a little.


allen

Utah
Joined: 16 Jan 2005
Posts: 27

Re: breathing patterns while running Posted: Sun Jan 16, 2005 5:12 pm 

Before I run, I walk about 1/4 mile. Then I start jogging for about half a mile while I finish warming up. During this jog, I do a 4-4. After I'm warmed up I do a 2-2. The only time I do a 1-1 is if I'm sprinting or if I'm quite tired. I use 1-1 as a sign I need more rest. I don't focus on these patterns; they're just something my body does naturally.

/Allen


Last edited by allen on Sun Jan 16, 2005 6:43 pm; edited 1 time in total


mfox

South Orange, New Jersey
Joined: 19 Dec 2004
Posts: 367

Re: breathing patterns while running Posted: Sun Jan 16, 2005 6:29 pm 

Aren't these breathing patterns supposed to coinside with the number of strides you take with the same foot? So if you are beathing in a 3-2 patter you are breathing in for three strides of your right foot (or left) and breath out for two steps of the same foot.

allen

Utah
Joined: 16 Jan 2005
Posts: 27

Re: breathing patterns while running Posted: Sun Jan 16, 2005 6:48 pm 

Yea, you're right. I thought about that a while ago but didn't think it through. I just went back and changed my 2-1 to a 1-1. 2-2 is my normal pattern. If I sprint, or go up a steep hill, I breath faster than a 2-2, so it would have to be a 1-1.

If I get tired I need more oxygen and I do 1-1 for just a few steps and then go back to my 2-2.


Rickshaw
Runworks 2005 5M Racer
San Francisco, CA
Joined: 26 Nov 2004
Posts: 1157

Re: breathing patterns while running Posted: Sun Jan 16, 2005 7:22 pm 

mfox wrote:
Aren't these breathing patterns supposed to coinside with the number of strides you take with the same foot? So if you are beathing in a 3-2 patter you are breathing in for three strides of your right foot (or left) and breath out for two steps of the same foot.

No, I don't think so-- you count every footstrike whether it is left or right. So 2-2 means left-right-(inhale)-left-right-(exhale).


mfox

South Orange, New Jersey
Joined: 19 Dec 2004
Posts: 367

Re: breathing patterns while running Posted: Sun Jan 16, 2005 8:09 pm 

Yeh, you're right. I found a couple articles that mention the pattern is for right-left foot strikes. I guess I've always been confused by this because during my tempo runs when I've tried to determine my breathing pattern it seems slower then the suggest 2-2.

If I count left-right instead of left-left, then my patter on tempo runs are closer to 3-3. I've wondered if I'm not breathing hard enough (thus not running hard enough) or I'm measuring wrong. My legs certainly feel like I'm running hard enough. I've measure my breathing pattern (during my peak training season) when I do a 9 mile run with a 6 mile temp run in the middle (1.5 mile warmup and cooldown) at about a 7:15 pace.

So...I don't see any reason to pay much attention to your breathing pattern unless, of course, you are breating 2-2 on an easy run; you're running too fast. I think the talk test is a better measure than breathing pattern of whether you are running your easy runs right or not.


Rickshaw
Runworks 2005 5M Racer
San Francisco, CA
Joined: 26 Nov 2004
Posts: 1157

Re: breathing patterns while running Posted: Mon Mar 27, 2006 5:40 pm 

I found myself thinking about breathing patterns again recently. In the final mile or so of my 12K race the other weekend, I made a conscious effort to force a 2-1 breathing pattern. Normally I never breathe faster than 2-2, because it feels strange and doesn't come naturally, but I'm aware that I may be limiting my speed by limiting my oxygen. After a minute of irregular breathing, I latched on to the 2-1 pattern once I learned to think of it like a waltz (3/4 time for you music majors).

Maybe it was just coincidence, but I partially credit the 2-1 breathing with my strong finish in that race. It doesn't seem too farfetched, considering that I was breathing 33% more. I'll try it again at the 10K this weekend and see how it goes.


mfox

South Orange, New Jersey
Joined: 19 Dec 2004
Posts: 367

Re: breathing patterns while running Posted: Mon Mar 27, 2006 6:15 pm 

Here's something else to think about. I've not read or hard anyone talke about this aspect of the warm-up routine. My personal experience has shown that, before a race where I anticipate I'll be breathing at a faster than normal rate, if I first take time to do some deep breathing my breathing will be more comfortable during the early stages of a fast race. In other words, if my lungs aren't ready to keep up with my body from the start of the race I feel discomfort until my lungs finally "warm-up."

So what I do is before a race is to take deep "belly" breaths (letting my stomach extend as I inhale helps ensure I breath deeper than just my upper chest) during my warm up run before the race. I take a deep breath, hold it briefly, exhale and then repeat for a period of about 30 seconds or so. Then I go back to whatever my regular breathing is as I jog my warmup. Then I repeat this about a half dozen times, or unitl I feel like my lungs have been stretched a bit and are ready to handle the more rapid breathing that wll be required early in the race. I've found it works best if I can do this as close to the start of the race as possible, which can be hard since some races require you to line up (if only to get a good starting spot) 10 minutes or more before the start. In this case, I continue to take deep breaths as I wait for the start.

I encourage anyone else to give this a try at your next race, and let me know if you experience any difference in the comfort level of your breathing during the early part of your race.


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