Sprinting, or running at a high intensity, will get anyone out of breath — and quickly. Different paced runs require different breathing techniques, and sprinting is different from other types of runs.
It is important to be aware of how fast and frequently you are breathing when sprinting to make the most out of your run.
Breathing Techniques for Sprinting
The pace of your run determines the rhythm of your breath. According to the American Lung Association, breathing rhythms are based on the number of steps you take, compared to your breath rate. Whether you've noticed or not, your foot strike usually happens when you're exhaling thus destabilizing your pelvis and core.
Learn a 5-step rhythmic breathing technique that will take the load off your feet. Take three steps as you inhale and two as you exhale. If you run faster, switch to a 3-step pattern during which you inhale for two steps and exhale for one, alternating the left and right foot as you strike the ground.
Read more: Sprint Workouts for Beginners
Not Just Your Lungs
The higher the amount of oxygen that travels through your body, the better your body will function while sprinting. The ability to deliver oxygen to your cells quicker helps you run even faster. This is best achieved by breathing using your belly, rather than using just your lungs to breathe while running. With belly breathing, you will use your stomach muscles to help your lungs push the air out, causing your stomach muscles to expand.
When you exhale, tighten your stomach muscles, drawing your stomach in towards your spine, flattening it again. Your stomach should rise and fall, as opposed to your chest rising and falling. According to Northwestern Medicine, belly breathing allows you to inhale more oxygen, while expelling more carbon dioxide, which is crucial for sprinting so that you can run faster and not tire as quickly. As a bonus, you are less likely to suffer from the "side stitches" that runners often get from too-fast breathing.
Read more: Proper Warm-Up for Sprinting
Open Your Mouth
The best way to breathe while sprinting is to breathe through your mouth, not just your nose. This will allow more air to enter your body and puts less pressure on your heart according to Hawaii Pacific Health. Breathing through just your nose leads to a clenched jaw and the tightening of your facial muscles. When sprinting, your entire body including your facial muscles, should remain in a relaxed state, which breathing through your mouth also helps with. With your mouth open just slightly, you will be getting an adequate amount of oxygen into your body for your sprints.
Read more: How to Run Sprint Intervals
Mindful Breathing Rhythm
Put as much thought into your breathing rhythm and pace as you do your running gear. If your breathing rhythm is inhale/exhale, inhale, exhale at a very fast pace, you could hyperventilate. If your breathing rhythm is less than three inhales to three exhales, you may not get enough oxygen to your body during your sprints. Sprinting in areas that are not too hot or polluted can make breathing easier as well.