Thursday, January 3, 2013

Breathing’s Over-Rated

Lately it seems I’ve read a lot about breathing.

Ken and I have this running joke from a long time ago when we were watching Last Comic Standing. One comedian, Lavell Crawford, was a very obese man.  As part of his stand up, Lavell would talk about how he got annoyed when people asked him dumb questions related to his being overweight. For example, “Lavell, why are you breathing so hard?” His response, “So I can LIVE.”

So, when I’m breathing hard going up the stairs I just say, “So I can LIVE!!” Yes, I guess breathing is kind of a requirement for living.

Generally, when I run, I clench my teeth and breathe through the gaps in my two front teeth. I also twist and way my arms because this is very good form.

onmyway2

Seriously, I breathe through both my nose and my mouth when I run. Apparently, this is called combination breathing and is pretty common and accepted. Most running references suggest this as the way to go because you can get the most air in this way.

However, some schools of thought argue that there is a more optimal way to breathe while running.  What? You mean it’s not just enough to be running and sweating and farting and stuff – I have to breathe a certain way too?

I remember when I took the Chi Running workshop last summer. Founder Danny Dreyer kept talking about breathing through your nose (and keeping your mouth shut) while you run. This is supposed to help with “belly breathing” – which reportedly releases good hormones and lowers blood pressure and heart rate. If you are running closed mouthed and breathing only through your nose and have to open your mouth to gasp for breath, then your body is not getting enough oxygen because you are overdoing it and running too fast. It also means you are not relaxed enough.

This idea of nose breathing came up again while reading Scott Jurek’s Eat and Run. He talks about training his body to breathe only through his nose.  This regulated and deepened his breathing, thereby improving performance. He also claims that nasal breathing allows for the air to be purified and humidified before reaching the lungs. Also? You can eat easier while you run if you are breathing through your nose.

While Danny with Chi Running says to breathe both in and out through the nose, Jurek suggests breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth.

I figured this nasal breathing business couldn’t be so hard. I mean, I sit around and breathe through my nose all day with my mouth shut. Hell, I’m doing it right now. I even sleep with my mouth shut (I hate a dry mouth in the morning).

Well, let me tell you. Breathing through only my nose while running made me feel like I was suffocating. I could hardly do it even for a few minutes. I was gasping, pleading for more oxygen from the universe.

I’m taking this nose breathing thing as a challenge. I want to see if after a few attempts I can actually do it and not pass out. Then I’ll probably ditch it because it’s hard and go back to doing it the other way. I’m a wimp that way.

How about you? How do you breath when you run? Hard. I breathe hard.

Have you tried nose breathing?

SUAR

69 comments:

  1. first to comment on SUAR..... :>)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I tried breathing through my nose on an 8 miler yesterday. Nope, can't say I enjoyed it.

      Delete
    2. Enjoy your life with a geekman :D

      Delete
  2. I breathe in through my nose and out through my mouth usually, but I keep my mouth open the whole time. If I close my mouth, I tend to clench my jaw and that hurts.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I tried to breathe in my nose while running and eating per Jureks book suggestion, but I can't do it for too long. Quarter mile, or so. I get a runny nose, or its from inhaling my sweat, whatever, and it is hard. I am a mouth breather.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Combination breather I guess.. Can't run with my mouth closed ...or maybe its in through the nose, out through the mouth??"" Now I'm gonna dwell on it until my run tomorrow

    ReplyDelete
  5. I most of the time breathe in through mose, out through mouth. However when really pushing it I tend to solely breathe with my mouth. maybe that explains why I am slower than I want to be. Maybe I am just breathing wrong.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Asthma + refusal to use inhaler because it effs with my heart= gasping through any orifice. Mouth, nose, hell, some days it feels like I'm sucking wind so hard it's coming in my tear ducts, too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm with you on this one. I wheeze and bray like a damned donkey!

      Delete
    2. I practice nose breathing cause it messes with my asthma less. Takes a lot of practice, but after a few months it's almost automatic. Almost. Still have to slow down to do it consistently. But fewer asthma attacks, less medicine it's worth it.

      Delete
    3. I have a deviated septum. I never have both sides of my nasal passages open at the same time. Breathing through my nose while running is just an option. I could never get enough air in. I really wish I could, for today I breathed in another bug. YUK!

      Delete
  7. when i lived at sea level, i could breathe through my nose when i ran, but not at 5280'. that was also 25 years ago, so could be attributed to age not altitude :)

    ReplyDelete
  8. I breathe mostly through my mouth. When I was helping a friend of mine through couch to 5k, she was heel striking and breathing only through her nose. I asked her why she did both of these and she said its how she was taught in elementary school cross country. I asked her if she really needs water, would she prefer drinking from a straw or a garden hose. She of course said the hose and I asked then why breathe through the straw and not the hose. She has successfully completed couch to 5k, which she never thought she could do breathing through her nose. Of course, she still heel strikes.....but one thing at a time. :) I on the other hand, cant breathe through my nose. Since October when I had a really bad cold, every single time I run my nose runs harder and faster than my legs, making it impossible to breathe, regardless of how many snot rockets I blow.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I'm normally a combination breather. But during my easy runs I will periodically breath just through my nose, specifically to see if I'm running easy.

    However, this being Calgary, and me being me, there are two problems. One is somewhat thinner, sometimes very cold, and very dry air, produces a snot build up. My problem is the 'mo collecting all the snot, and moisture from breathing out, to form tusks. They haven't choked off my breathing yet, but I can see the time coming.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I do both, but more through my mouth when my nose is running (for obvious reasons). Once I read that you're supposed to breathe out super deeply, but when I actually tried to do it, I got side stitches. So since then, I pretty much just do what my body tells me.

    ReplyDelete
  11. OMG! I am a running mouth breather. It make my teeth hurt like hell in these cold temps... Then again closing my mouth causes me to clench my teeth just speeding up that inevitable crown.. I think I'll take the challenge to become a running nose breather, my dentist has to put her kid through college some how!!

    ReplyDelete
  12. In my 12 years as a runner i have found that breathing through your nose is a rotten-ass idea and it doesnt work for speed running or distance running. Dont do it unless youre just going on a short jog. I run with mouth slightly open and breathe through.both my nose and mouth and i dont feel like dying during my workout.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Is it bad I have no idea what I do? Weird.
    I'll let ya know tomorrow ;-)
    And I'll probably try all the ways you mentioned and pass out, I'm just talented that way. heehee

    ReplyDelete
  14. I have tried nose breathing, b/c that's how you're supposed to breathe when doing yoga. I find it doesn't work for me at all while running. I think my nasal passages are just too clogged up!

    ReplyDelete
  15. I try to. But when I have a run in cold weather (I live in Utah) I sometimes get a runny nose. This sucks when you are trying to execute nasal breathing because you are constantly blowing and inhaling snot. Love your blogs by the way.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I have way too much snot to breathe only through my nose when running. Like you, the times I've tried it I've ended up feeling like I'm suffocating. I'm sure Scott Jurek has pristine vegan nostrils. And his breath probably smells like roses, too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've read that "real" vegans don't even have snot, just a smooth, clear mucus coating that absorbs and destroys every toxin known to man (and three that aren't). :-)

      Delete
  17. Combo breather here, and I felt better about it (after having heard "in through your nose, out through your mouth" as more or less official advice) after reading a Runner's World article about breaking running "rules." One coach was quoted as saying something like 'heck, if you can breathe through your ears, do it!' Having said that, I do like to breathe in through my nose, even if I'm breathing in through my mouth at the same time, in order to keep the snot build-up to a minimum.

    ReplyDelete
  18. My husband uses nose breathing to determine his effort level (weirdo) - if he can comfortably breathe through his nose, he's running an easy enough pace. Or something. I don't know.

    I breathe, the end. I think all this research and opinion is just overthinking something so basic and simple, and it's just too much :D.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I'm definitely a nose/mouth combo breather. I do use some of the yoga breathing I learned, though. I attended a class that encouraged us to exhale as though we were trying to fog up a window. For some reason, this works wonders to keep me from ever feel like I'm gasping for air, even at race pace. I don't know why it works, and it makes me sound funny I'm sure, but I can't hear my own breath over my music so it's all good :)

    ReplyDelete
  20. If I had to breathe just with my nose I'd probably faint within a kilometre. Purified air is over-rated. Oxygen is not.

    ReplyDelete
  21. I have not ever really thought much about breathing so this is good stuff to think about! Thanks. I will use it over the next few weeks since I just returned to Colorado and definitely felt the altitude today :(

    ReplyDelete
  22. I can look back at race pictures and see what kind of shape I'm in by whether or not my mouth is hanging open! I've done several marathons that were comfortable enough to breath through my nose, but of course my 5k pics always have me hanging on for dear life.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Breathing in through my nose gives me an anchor. I relax and run better.

    ReplyDelete
  24. I have a deviated septum. If I tried to breathe only through my nose I think I would suffocate. I breathe mostly through my mouth, maybe a little through my nose.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Same for me. I'm also a gum chewer when I run. Well, I have gum in my mouth when I run. I chew it when the going gets tough. My mouth gets too dry,from the mouth breathing, if I don't chew gum.

      Delete
  25. I am not really sure how I breathe while I'm running actually! I'll have to pay more attention to that next run. I usually focus more on deep breathing rather than if I'm breathing through my nose or mouth. Interesting post!

    ReplyDelete
  26. I 'combo' breathe unless I'm passing someone in a race. Then I shut my mouth so they don't think a dying animal is coming up behind them.

    ReplyDelete

  27. Hi thanks for writing about this. I enjoy visiting your blog,I

    always was interested in this subject and still am, thanks for

    putting up.keep up the good work!
    http://www.healthvillage.in

    ReplyDelete
  28. Malaysia & Singapore & brunei ideal internet blogshop for wholesale & quantity korean add-ons, accessories, earstuds,
    choker, rings, bracelet, trinket & hair add-ons. Deal 35 % wholesale markdown. Ship Worldwide
    Also visit my web blog ... Korean accessories online shop

    ReplyDelete
  29. I gasp and gulp air through my mouth, but will occasionally try to inhale through my nose which is hard because my nose runs like nobody's business when I run.

    ReplyDelete
  30. I love you final answer - Hard!!! I'm not sure how I breath - I just know that no matter how good of shape I'm in, I breath harder than anyone else that I might run with. Maybe I'm breathing wrong!!! Oh, well - just happy to be running and breathing!

    ReplyDelete
  31. Nasal-focused breathing has some roots in yoga too I think - alternate nostril breathing and some other techniques. Deviated septum & allergies/runny nose mean I 1) subsidize kleenex and 2) need to breathe through my mouth almost all the time when running(and I've read that's fine if it's what works for you) I will try sometimes, late in a long run that's gotten hard, to do some forceful nostril breathing (inhale/exhale or inhale nose/exhale mouth), maybe matched with my strides in some pattern...sometimes it feels like I get a bit of energy from it, but just the distraction of having something else to focus on helps.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Challenge accepted!! Sounds easy enough.. haha that said I will probably faint 4 minutes in. Should be fun!

    BTW I went and looked up Scott Jurek's book and I'm so mad that you can buy it for $3 on Kindle- and it's $19 (!!!) on Kobo! You've made me REALLY want it tho.. haha I might have to suck it up and buy it :)

    ReplyDelete
  33. I started working on breathing through my nose about 6 months ago. It was so hard at first! But it did get easier, and I find it keeps me feeling much calmer as I run. Now that I've also incorpoated heart rate training (thanks to your recommendation on Heart Rate Training for the Compleat Idiot!), I find I can run all my easy runs breathing through my nose.

    ReplyDelete
  34. I open my mouth and suck air like a drowning monkey.
    I heard that in through the nose, out through the mouth thing when I was in high school, but after reading more, I heard it said that you need as much air as you can possibly get for your muscles.

    ReplyDelete
  35. I have really struggled with this. So many years of terrible allergies has left me a die-hard-habit mouth breather. :( Not sure if that's something I'll ever be able to change...

    ReplyDelete
  36. I am a nose breather - until about the last tenth of a mile, when I want to sprint - then I am a full mouth breather. For some reason, if I open my mouth, I become compelled to suck wind in and out of it, which is exhausting.
    One commentor said her jaw starts to hurt if she closes her mouth, I was the same way for a while. And a running friend of mine suggested that in order to loosen up and not clench my jaw, to put my tongue between my front teeth, lightly pressing down with my teeth. What I found was so that I didn't bite my tongue, I had to lighten up how I ran, and even though my initial pace slowed significantly, I was back up to speed in about 3 months. The nice part of that was that when I started running with a lighter strike to the ground so I didn't bite off my tongue, I noticed the pain in my joints lightened up too.
    That being said, I am still the slowest runner I know, but i am one of the oldest too, so maybe that's the case.
    Happy new year!
    Amy P. Philly Runner.

    ReplyDelete
  37. Remember that Scott runs really really long and a lot slower than the pace most people would try and do for a 5k. His running is more aerobic oriented, and most people (who don't run ultra marathons) would have to combo breathe to get enough air or breathe through just their mouth.

    I'm a combo breather now. When I was a kid, I'd only breathe using my nose while running- until id run out of air and slow down- not good for races! ;)

    ReplyDelete
  38. On my easy treadmill runs, I usually only breathe through my nose. It's also my gauge telling me I am running at an easy enough pace. Once I need to breathe through my mouth I know that my run is no longer at an "easy" pace.

    Great post!

    ReplyDelete
  39. I hate trying to regulate my breathing. I'd rather breathe in a way that feels comfortable! (You'd think that would make the most sense...) Any time someone tells me to matching my breathing to my steps, or concentrate on nasal breathing, the advice goes in one ear and out the other. I figure, do what works for you!

    ReplyDelete
  40. My nose is always stuffy. I'm pretty sure I would pass out if I tried only breathing through my nose.

    ReplyDelete
  41. Great post. I used to be a nose breather but I found it inefficient for me and I was getting killer side stitches. I've switched to mouth breathing and not only am I less fatigued, I don't get side stitches. Hard to explain because I know "they" say nose breathing is better. When I did nose breathe I found by the end of the run I was mouth breathing.

    ReplyDelete
  42. I actually do breathe through my nose when I run. I find it calms my breathing & helps my running :-)

    ReplyDelete
  43. Yes I most certainly have tried nose breathing. I can do it for a short while, and then I start gasping for air. My nose just isn't big enough to get enough air in.

    ReplyDelete
  44. There is no way I could nose breathe with my sinus garbage. I have a hard enough time sleeping while breathing through my nose, I constantly wait up all stuffed up. Bleh.

    ReplyDelete
  45. In in, out out, thought my mouth and a little through my nose. I already know that if I tried only breathing through my nose while running I would pass out in like 2 minutes.

    I wonder if there's a connection between nose breathing advocates and pace? I feel like Chi Running and people like Jurek are all about LONG slow(er) distance...are there any 5K/10K runners out there breathing only through their noses?

    ReplyDelete
  46. Last night I noticed that my running breathing rate was very consistent but HOW I was breathing was not! Sometimes all nose, sometimes both, sometimes mouth...

    ReplyDelete
  47. Tried just nose breathing on the treadmill today - wasn't comfortable. I am in through my nose out through my mouth type of gal.

    ReplyDelete
  48. I can only nose breathe when I am going slow. If i tried that when doing speedwork I would probably pass out!

    ReplyDelete
  49. I'm supposed to breathe when I run? ;)

    I think I breathe through my nose and mouth, but I don't know when I do which one or whatever. I just let my body decide what it needs and go for it. I do know that I MUST chew gum when I run because otherwise my mouth breathing totally dries my mouth/throat out and I will die of dryness.

    ReplyDelete
  50. I tried breathing through my nose this morning and lasted about 0.23 seconds.

    ReplyDelete
  51. I had an experienced runner tell me in through nose, out through mouth. I must have the world's smallest nasal passages, because virtually no air came in those little holes. I breath in and out through mouth (read somewhere it helps reduce side stitches) and it seems to work for me. Interested to see how in through nose, out through mouth pans out for you.

    ReplyDelete
  52. I tried nose breathing yesterday and I just ended up with snot running all over my face.

    ReplyDelete
  53. Nose breathing = no breathing for me. I just can't do it! I'm a mouth breather when running. Yep, I'm the annoying person next to you in the race who sounds like she's going to pass out :)

    ReplyDelete
  54. Nose breathing = no breathing for me. I just can't do it! I'm a mouth breather when running. Yep, I'm the annoying person next to you in the race who sounds like she's going to pass out :)

    ReplyDelete
  55. I've tried breathing through my nose while running, since they stress it in Bikram Yoga & I failed. I'll take in air anyway I can while running, thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  56. In thru the nose and out the mouth ... unless I'm congested. Then its wherever I can get o2 in so I don't pass out! (I have this same battle with dental work too ... can't seem to breathe thru the nose the entire time for it either!)

    ReplyDelete
  57. That "Last Comic Standing" joke gets said in our house by someone at LEAST once a week! I mean, what kind of question is that?!

    ReplyDelete
  58. I am doing it and mainating and adjusting my heart rate to not exceed 50 Granted I am going slower then i normally do but I definetly feel a challenge and seem to get a diffrent type of good work out
    From what i read it take a least 8 weeks to become proficient at it
    Tim Ferris has a great article about it in his blog on endurance running

    ReplyDelete
  59. I started running nasal breathing and never learned any differently. My teeth HURT when I breathe through my mouth, for one, in or out. For another, the humidification/dehumidification of the nose means that I don't need to drink any water on a 6 mile run, even at 90 degrees.

    ReplyDelete
  60. Hey, ever since I started running, I breathe through my nose. I tried both breathing through the mouth and the combination of mouth and nose; they made me out of breath and I could barely keep running. I felt light headed and tingly. After those runs, I was about passed out with exhaustion. I guess breathing through the nose just works best for me.

    ReplyDelete
  61. I am a mountain biker with exercise induced asthma. I usually need a hit of albuterol before a ride, and after 20 to 30 minutes. Did a 4 hour ride tonight, and only inhaled through the nose, I did do some exhales out the mouth when I felt I would blow snot if I nose exhaled. LOL But I did not experience any asthma symptoms at all, and did not need that 20 minute hit I always need. And my muscles seem less fatigued as well.

    ReplyDelete
  62. I am a mountain biker with exercise induced asthma. I usually need a hit of albuterol before a ride, and after 20 to 30 minutes. Did a 4 hour ride tonight, and only inhaled through the nose, I did do some exhales out the mouth when I felt I would blow snot if I nose exhaled. LOL But I did not experience any asthma symptoms at all, and did not need that 20 minute hit I always need. And my muscles seem less fatigued as well.

    ReplyDelete