The most common question people new to running ask me is how can they work on their breathing to get it right. They’ve maybe been following one of the many plans out there or been going out by themselves and been enjoying running but finding the breathing bit tricky. If you’ve experienced this yourself then firstly you’re not the only one to have a few challenges with this and I’ve got some tips for you that may help.
The first thing I would say is that it sounds like you’re running too fast even if you do think that you’re pretty slow so let’s say that the intensity is probably too much for you at this stage. What we’re commonly taught in the various programs online is how long to run for rather than how it should feel. If you work on how it should feel then you’ll likely progress very quickly.
Pace is a common problem for beginners and was one of the reasons for setting up my Zero to 5k group where I coach people on being able to run 5km in just 5 weeks. Here are my top 5 tips for mastering the pace:
- The talk test – you should be able to talk in sentences between breaths. If you run with others then you should be able to hold down a conversation without struggling for breath.
- Sing a song in your head – you don’t have to do this out loud but what to do is to sing a song to yourself and you be able to sing a line of a verse of your favourite song between breaths.
- Focus on feeling comfortable – this is one of the big ones. Try to relax and focus on feeling comfortable when you run and too many cues to think about can often confuse things.
- Feel like you can run further – instead of setting time intervals (i.e. 2mins run, 2mins walk etc) set yourself some visual goals using landmarks such as park benches, lampposts, trees, buildings etc and try running to one at a pace that you feel you could keep running once you reach it.
- Run easy – we can often get bogged down with too much to think about like foot strike and posture so try to simply focus only on feeling that your run is easy and that you could keep going for an indefinite period of time. If you set too many targets then there is the tendency to run at a quicker pace to get to the destination whereas if you go to a park and focus only on feeling that your run is easy then it’s likely that you’ll run further than you thought you could. If you’re instantly thinking that these tips could be a challenge then the chances are you’re running too quickly. Try slowing it down, try any of these tips and see what happens. You might feel you’re slowing down to marginally quicker than walking pace however, you won’t be there for long and you’ll likely be able to run for longer pretty soon. I believe the key is to be able to run for longer and the race will come.
Good luck! Try it and let me know how you get on!