It is not uncommon for runners to gas out when running. Their lungs will fail them before their legs. While this is more common among beginners breathing strategies for running is often a key component of performance even among elite runners.
In 2022 I run my first two 5k races at 22 mins 22 secs each. During my preparation and the races I deployed a few breathing strategies based on my research which I believe contributed to hitting these times. In this article I will share the 5 most important ones I used on the racing day.
1 Use the max # of red blood cells possible
Preparation: 10mins before the race I performed some gentle breath holds. Ideally, they should have been a lot stronger to get the spleen and EPO effect but even the way I did them was still beneficial in my opinion.
2 Breathe Nasally as much as possible
Race: The easy part of the race – which was not a lot – was done with nose breathing, teeth touching & tongue at the top of the pallet. The reason for that was to stay as much as possible in a parasympathetic state (ie. keep my HR low).
3 Breathe at a steady rhythm
Race: During most of the race I tried to keep a rhythm in my breathing. The rhythm had to change during the race based on my stride. The slower the stride the “lighter” the breathing. Maintaining a rhythm in the breath is a common recommendation for runners. What I found necessary was to modify the rhythm in different sections of the race.
4 Recover half-way when possible
Race: The recovery parts of the race during which I had to “change gears” were by far the most critical “breath-wise”. During some of them, I had to slow down in order to reset my breath.
5 Recover faster by addressing the biomechanics
Post-race: I lay on the grass to recover but soon after I remembered that lying on my belly would help me recover faster (which it did). The reason has to do with the biomechanics of breathing.