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.
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?