Breathing for runners part 2
In part 1 of this series you can read everything about the function of breathing and the development of breathing problems. If you want to know more about this, read part 1 here! This will also help to better apply the program below.
The Running Solutions training program consists of 4 different phases. Phase one and two are the phases that cannot be skipped. Not everyone will need stages 3 and 4, this depends entirely on your training and competition goals. If you have any questions regarding your situation, please do not hesitate to contact us!
Phase 1 – reset patterns
In the beginning it is important to get the body used to a new pattern. As with other skills, you have to start simple and then expand. It is difficult to change patterns. Therefore, you should practice the following exercises several times a day.
In the beginning, these exercises may cause more complaints or a stress response from the body. This is because you have to get used to the new situation. Only if this continues for a long time (more than 2 weeks) it is wise to contact us to go through the exercises once. Also take the time to get the exercises under control, this may take a while.
This phase consists of 2 exercises that must be performed daily.
Abdominal breathing lying / sitting – use diaphragm
Startposition: Lying on the back with one hand on the chest and one hand on the stomach just below the rib cage. (this exercise can also be done while seated)
Execution: Breathe in through the nose, taking the breath to the abdomen. You do this by not breathing too much into the chest. You will mainly feel that your belly is expanding a little and the chest has almost no movement.
Repetitions: Do this exercise 3 times a day for 6 minutes.
Abdominal breathing with ballon
Startposition: Lying on the back, hip and knees at 90 degrees with feet against a wall.
Execution: Make sure that the lower back is kept pressed against the ground by lightly tightening the lower abdominal muscles. Then inhale through the nose and out through the mouth, inflating the balloon. It is important not to squeeze the balloon and breathe into the lower abdomen. You can let the air out of the balloon between breaths.
Repetitions: Do this exercise ones a day, ten repititions.
Phase 2 – Simple intergration
You have now successfully completed phase 1, which means that the foundation for a good breathing pattern has been laid during your run. Now it is important to extend this way of breathing to more complex situations. In this phase we focus on breathing during stretching exercises. This way you learn to keep control over breathing while you are doing exercises. This is the first step in translating your new breathing pattern into running!
By linking breathing to stretching exercises, chances are that the stretching exercises will go better and have more effect. This is because this way of breathing provides relaxation. For example, your body will not give a stress response to the stretching exercises.
During the exercises, your breathing is done with the diaphragm as you practiced in phase 1. You will now do the stretching exercises for 8 to 10 breaths.
These are two sample exercises you could use. If there are other muscles you would rather stretch, that’s fine too. Make sure that you put the stretch on the muscle the moment you exhale and do an inhalation when you release the stretch.
Dynamic stretch of hipflexors.
Startposition: Lunge position
Execution: Keep the torso straight while moving the pelvis forward and back. The trunk remains straight throughout the exercise. It is important that the movement backwards goes together with the inhalation and the movement forward with an exhalation.
Repetitions: breath 10 times for both sides.
Startposition: Lying on the back with one leg extended and the other leg with the knee raised to the chest that you are holding with both hands.
Execution: Gently stretch the leg raised to the chest until stretch is felt in the hamstring. Then calmly come back to the bent position. It is important that the stretching of the leg is accompanied by an exhalation and the bending of the leg with an inhalation.
Repetitions: breath 10 times for both sides.
Fase 3 – Complex functional integration
In phases 1 and 2 you learned how to apply diaphragm breathing both at rest and during simple exercises. In this phase implement breathing in complex exercises. These are strength exercises that translate into running. In these exercises, strength, balance, coordination and breathing together will play an important role. The chance to fall back into old habits lurks with these exercises.
Tip: Also try to start focusing on breathing during a running workout. For example, check every 10 minutes whether breathing is going through the diaphragm. This is purely for control, do not force focus here. You can apply this during quiet running training.
Below are some examples of complex exercises that teach you how to apply a good breathing pattern while running.
Balloon breathing in running position.
Startposition: Standing on one leg with the other leg bent to 90 degrees in the knee.
Execution: Make sure you are stable. Place the balloon on your mouth with the arm opposite to your standing leg. Do not squeeze the balloon. Now breathe in gently through the nose using the diaphragm. Then blow out through the mouth inflating the balloon.
Repetitions: 3×10 repetitions for each side.
Start position: Stand on one leg with a straight knee with the other knee raised to 90 degrees in knee and hip. Shoulders are straight above the hips. The hand of the raised leg is next to your torso, the other at the level of your nose.
Execution: Now bend forward through the hip of the standing leg with the torso. Tap the ground under the equal shoulder with the contralateral hand. Come back to the starting position / running position. You breathe in during the forward bend and breathe out when you return to the starting position.
Repetitions: 3×10 repetitions each side.
Lunge + rotation
Startposition: Take a large step forward with the front knee bent. The back leg is bent in the knee.
Execution: Move the arms straight at an angle upwards, now bring the arms to the hip on the other side of your body. You can do this exercise with, for example, 1kg. While raising the weight you breathe in, while lowering you breathe out.
Repetitions: 3×10 herhalingen per zijde.
Phase 4 – Integration during running
To make the translation to running it is now necessary to check your breathing while running. Do this every 10 min in each workout. Once you have checked it is important to focus for 1 minute on a diaphragm breath but more importantly a controlled vigorous exhalation. The exhalation can be influenced well during training. Try to extend the exhalation a little and make it a little longer than the inhalation. You can read about the effect of this in the first article.
You may find it difficult to breathe in the beginning, so give yourself time to get used to it. Start by applying in quiet training and then expand this to tempo training and competitions.