How to Improve Your Running, Without Getting Out of Breath!
Running is an excellent cardiovascular workout that can give a real boost to your long term fitness, improving your muscle and bone strength, lung capacity, and heart health.
When you first begin running, your fitness and stamina is unlikely to be at peak performance. You may find yourself getting out of breath far more quickly than you’d anticipated, which can be disheartening when you first embark on a new exercise regime.
However, it is important not to give up! Improving your cardiovascular fitness is a work in progress, and if you stick at it, you can see tangible improvements to your fitness over time.
Here we will discuss how best to improve your running fitness, and how to improve your lung capacity to prevent you from getting out of breath when you run.
What Happens to Your Body When You Run?
When you do any cardiovascular exercise, your heart and muscles have to work harder than usual to keep your body energized and in motion.
This means that when you run fast, you will likely notice several immediate physiological changes in your body. But what are these changes, and what causes them?
+ Change in Energy Use
When resting, your body uses oxygen to convert stored fats and sugars to energy, using a series of chemical reactions known as the Citric Acid Cycle. This produces energy (in the form of ATP molecules) at a steady, consistent rate.
When you begin to run, however, the muscles begin to use energy at a far faster rate, and your body has to produce much more ATP to meet these demands.
Consequently, this means that your muscles’ need for oxygen also increases; however, there is usually not enough oxygen present in your blood to meet these demands when you are running fast.
The body therefore begins to generate energy without oxygen, using the Cori Cycle. This is a far faster means of producing energy, and means that your muscles have immediate access to the fuel they require to keep moving.
This method of producing energy is fast but inefficient, and actually results in an overall net loss in energy, causing your body to burn through more calories.
+ Change in Breathing Rate
As you body’s demand for energy increases, so too does it’s demand for oxygen, to power the reactions that convert bodily fats and sugars to energy.
This means that your lungs have to work harder to oxygenate your blood, causing your breathing rate to increase. People who have just started running will probably notice this happens quite quickly, causing them to get out of breathe soon after they start running.
+ Change in Heart Rate
Once in the blood, oxygen needs to be transported to the muscles, so it can used in energy-producing chemical reactions.
When you run fast, your muscles require more oxygen to keep up with the increased demand for energy, meaning that your heart has to work harder to pump blood more quickly around your body.
This change may also be more pronounced in new runners, and it may take longer for your heart rate to return to normal afterwards.
Why Do You Get Out of Breath Easily?
Everyone’s breathing rate increases when they run, but some people may find themselves getting out of breath far more quickly than others.
This is usually an indication of your cardiovascular fitness, and those who have only recently started training will notice that they tire more quickly than those who have been running for a while.
But why do we get out of breath in the first place?
When you run, carbon dioxide begins to build up in the blood, and your body’s demand for oxygen increases. This causes your breathing rate to increase, to allow your lungs to remove more of the carbon dioxide from your blood, and replace it with oxygen.
However, gas exchange in the lungs is a naturally inefficient process, particularly in new runners who may have low cardiovascular fitness.
Should You Continue Running When You Are Out of Breath?
You should not run to the point of complete exhaustion. It is ok to continue running with an accelerated breathing rate, but pushing yourself too hard can lead to dizziness and nausea, which are not conducive to improving your fitness, and may even put you off running entirely!
It is important to set yourself small, achievable fitness goals so you can gradually improve your cardiovascular health. Over time, this will translate to a better running performance, and you will be able to run must faster and further without getting out of breath.
Try making small increases to your distance and speed each time you head out for a jog, and pay attention to how your body feels when you run.
Continue to challenge yourself, but know when to stop and rest!
How Can You Improve Your Breathing When Running?
The good news is that you there are several easy methods for helping to improve your respiratory fitness when you run, and improve your breathing.
1. Warm Up
Performing an effective warm up before you start running can do a lot to improve your breathing, as this can gradually raise your heart and breathing rate, preparing your body for a more intense workout.
Spend at least 20 minutes walking, gently jogging, or stretching prior to beginning your run, to prime your body for the exercise and allow a more efficient exchange of gases in the lungs.
2. Alternate Running and Walking
If you get out of breath quickly, try alternating between walking and running to gradually improve your cardiovascular fitness.
A 2 minute walk between 5 minute bouts of running should allow your heart and breathing rate to slow, leaving you feeling more energized and able to continue.
Over time, you will notice that you can increase the amount of time you spend running without needing to walk to regain your breath.
3. Pay Attention to Your Breathing Technique
Breathing isn’t something we usually have to pay attention to, but how you breathe when you run can have a significant impact on your performance.
Practice ‘deep breathing’ when you are not running, as this can help to improve your lung capacity and get you into the habit of breathing more efficiently when running.
Make sure you inhale and exhale completely, filling and emptying your lungs entirely with each breath, and causing your abdomen to rise and fall each time.
By setting yourself small, manageable goals, including warm ups and cool downs in your training, and optimizing your breathing, it is possible to make significant and noticeable improvements to your cardiovascular fitness.
Over time, this will help to stop you from getting out of breath quickly when you run, increasing your distance and speed, and improving your overall health.
People who are able to improve their respiratory fitness this way will notice improvements to their overall fitness as a result, as the lungs become more efficient at supplying the body with the oxygen it needs during exercise.
This allows you to up the amount of training you can do, delivering an impressive boost to your long term stamina, strength, and heart health.