Jul 18, 2013

Trying New Things (#TNT): Rhythmic Breathing

Hi darlins'! It's great to see ya here!

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So. Rhythmic Breathing. It's a term I've heard bandied about here & there, but a recent Runner's World article caught my attention long enough for me to give it a solid try. It's an amazing article, and I encourage all runners (or fledgling marathoners like me) to give it a read. For those of looking just looking for the quick 4-1-1, here's my take:

What is rhythmic breathing?
Creating a breathing pattern that enables you to exhale on alternate foot strikes as you run.

Why is it necessary?
The stress impact from each foot strike while running is greatest at the beginning of exhalation (when your core is most relaxed, has less stability). Always landing on the same foot when you exhale exacerbates this issue, causing one side of your body to continuously carry most of the burden (the article uses a one-strap vs. two-strap heavy backpack analogy that I think demonstrates this point perfectly). So, in a nutshell, rhythmic breathing relieves one-sided stress and helps keep you injury-free!

What are some other reasons to try it?
  • Breath focus is revitalizing (as is taught in Taoism and also Hinduism via yoga)
  • Promotes deep centeredness
  • Quiets your mind and allows you to listen to your body

My Beginner's Pros
  • Focusing completely on how I was breathing made a 45-minute indoor run FLY by
  • Since I busted my headphones (or rather they were chewed up by a certain fluffy mongrel) it helped me stay motivated on a muggy, early morning run
  • For some reason, it made people watching at the gym easier. Always a good thing :)
  • It was so easy to slide into a stride and I felt incredibly calm and relaxed

My Beginner's Cons
  • When it came to running a slightly more prolonged fast pace with a 2:1:1:1 breath ratio (2 inhales-1 exhale-1 inhale-1 exhale), I couldn't figure out if I should be breathing out my nose or my mouth (I don't even know if it matters).
  • Running without headphones on kind of feels wrong to me.
  • I didn't practice belly-breathing enough beforehand, and when those hills popped up, that practice would have come in handy.

Before you start running...
  • Turn off the music. Trust me, the beats will only confuse the bejesus out of you.
  • Learn to breathe from your belly, a.k.a. your diaphragm
  • Practice a 5-count, or 3:2 breathing pattern with a hand on your belly (you can do this laying down)
  • Not to be gross, but if you have allergies like me you'll want to keep a towel/sweatband handy. Your legs and nose might both be a'running!

My Indoor Rhythmic Breathing Workout:
(my outdoor attempt was much less structured and I maintained a 3:2 pattern for the majority of that 3-mile run) 
My Takeaway?
I love yoga, so incorporating breath focus into my running was a fairly intuitive transition. Conquering hills while maintaining a foreign breathing pattern was challenging, but my treadmill run was a lot more enjoyable than usual so I plan on making rhythmic breathing runs a frequent addition to my indoor workout routine!

Thank you for reading!

Have any experiences or thoughts on rhythmic breathing? I'd love to hear from you in the comment section!


  1. I've heard of rhythmic breathing, but never really knew what it was. Thanks for the informative post. I'd love to give this a try on some easier runs or even on the treadmill like you suggested.

  2. I've read that same article and a number of similar ones recently and I found them fascinating! I also found the Runner's World article on how to get rid of a side stitch with breathing interesting. I can't seem to find the link now, but basically it talked about forcefully breathing when the foot opposite from your cramp hits the ground. I've tried it a number of times on runs and it always works!