I watched the U.S. Olympic Trials for Track and Field last night.  I really enjoyed the women’s 1500m race.  What struck me in the first heat, the commentators mentioned how slow the runners were going when they came across the 800m with a time of 2:26.  Of course my eyes bug out at the comment – but I know it’s true.  My best time at the 800m was 2:30.  And that was in my glory days.  Yes, these are Olympic quality runners – and you know what – they make it look so easy.  They didn’t look phased.  I know when I came across the finish line with my 2:30 I fell down in fatigue.  Not these women.  They rocked!

Event after event I watched the runners – some soared, some fell – but one thing they all had in common.  They had their breathing under control.  In their heats, I didn’t see anyone gasping for breath.  When the race was over and you saw the runners finish, you saw them let go of their running form and try to regain breathing normally.  Regaining their composure, gasp talking through interviews.

Breathing and Running

Why is it so important to control your breathing when you run?  Your muscles need oxygen.  If your muscles aren’t fed, they will become fatigued.  You will slow down and feel bad.

So – we train for speed, we train for distance, we train on hills – WE TRAIN OUR LUNGS

All of our workouts have the potential to change our breathing pattern.  We do our best to control our breathing and to feed our muscles to avoid feelings of fatigue.  For me, when I start to fatigue, the first thing I think is “My muscles need Oxygen.”    How do I get more Oxygen?  What else can we do to train our lungs?



Once you start to breath shallow, your body will fatigue.  Time to take some deep breaths.  Focused deep breaths from your diaphragm.  When I am tiring, I take a controlled deep breath.  If I can’t breathe all the way down to my toes and back – if my breath is forced short – I know I need to momentarily slow.

Here is also some great information on deep breathing and running

2.The 3-3, 2-2 Pattern

Much research and discussion has gone into the 3-3 pattern for slower runs, the 2-2 pattern for slightly faster runs.  Breathing in for 3 steps, out for 3 steps.  Or breathing in for 2 steps, out for 2 steps.  Coach Jack Daniels feels this is the best way to maximize out oxygen intake.

To be honest, I have a hard time counting.  But here is some great info, training info and discussion on the 3-3 base method.

3.   In through your nose, out through your mouth

How many of you have heard this one?  I’m 40, so 25 years ago this was a favorite saying around the track or cross country course.  And you know what?  When I feel I am losing control of my breathing, I go back to the old faithful saying.  Does it work?  Do I feel better breathing through my nose?  No.  Not all the time.  Sometimes, I guess.  I can’t hold that kind of breathing for very long, but it does do one thing:

Brings my attention back to breathing basics.

We train for speed, we train on hills, we train on long distances.  We are training our bodies, our muscles and our LUNGS in every workout to become better runners.

What do you do to train your lungs?  Let me know!

Happy Running!