Want More Running Energy? My Lips Are Sealed!

So, you’re thinking I’m just downright rude to tease you like that, aren’t you? Well, I haven’t teased you at all. In fact, I’ve already given you the answer in the blog title! Want more running energy? Seal those lips!

It’s called nasal breathing. Yup. Close your mouth and start breathing through your nose…as you run.

Sound easy? It really isn’t. Especially if you are going for speed. If you practice it, it will slow you down. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Eventually, you adapt. And as you do, you’ll find that you will be able to regain your pace, but with a bonus. Energy. And lots of it.

This little snipet comes from Eleanor McKenzie at AZ Central.

Runners, and most athletes, ideally want to exercise for specific periods of time without breathlessness. For example, sprinters and long-distance runners have different oxygen requirements, but both need a breathing technique that sustains the use of muscles and energy. Although mouth breathing appears to relieve symptoms of breathlessness at first, by reducing blood levels of carbon dioxide, it also raises the heart rate and reduces the brain’s oxygen level, according to Normal Breathing, leading to fatigue and dizziness. On the other hand, nose breathing raises CO2, which initially makes the athlete feel that breathing is more difficult. However, after this initial difficulty, it strengthens the respiratory system in the long term. Nose breathing increases the runner’s ability to take in oxygen, retain a higher level of oxygen in the body and tolerate higher levels of CO2. A runner uses this as a measurement of his endurance and performance.

I’m finding this to be true. Granted, I’m just a week in, but already the difference is apparent. My Monday speed work, done on the treadmill, was much easier as compared to the week before where I was huffing and puffing. I even pushed it a little harder this week, and I was able to maintain the nasal breathing throughout.


I have to admit that at first, it was more than difficult to run using this method of breathing. As I mentioned earlier, it slows you down, which can make it mentally challenging. It also can cause a headache. I noticed that on the first few attempts. I found that just taking the pace down a notch will alleviate that. But, of course, not everyone is the same. If you try this, be careful not to over do it, lest you hypo ventilate and possibly feel faint. You always want to be sure you are taking long, deep, breaths, from the diaphragm. Don’t take shallow, short breaths. Yeah, it takes practice. But the more you work on it, the easier it gets. And eventually you’ll find, that when you tackle that one long run each week, your endurance will improve dramatically.

It also, by default, lowers your heart rate. Since your pace is reduced, so is your heart rate, so technically you are getting a bit of heart rate training in as well. This can be of great value to long distance runners. If you can keep that heart rate down as you work into a steady race pace, then you will have it made for your next marathon.

Don't faint like a goat.

Don’t faint like a goat.

I’m one to quit something immediately if I don’t see immediate results, or if I find it just too dang hard. But this time, I’ve felt compelled to stick with it, especially since I have been struggling with my cardio due to the lack of steady running. I figured since I was already handicapped this way, in a sense, I may as well try this and see what it does for me. And as I’ve said, I’m more than surprised. It has been a real eye opener.

There are plenty of articles out there on nasal breathing. Just google it. Ben Greenfield speaks of it frequently in his podcasts. In fact, recently, he recorded a podcast featuring Australian HRV researcher Dr. James Heathers, where they discuss the benefits of nasal breathing and incorporate a technique called breathing ladders. But if you just head over to Ben Greenfield Fitness and do a search for nasal breathing, you’ll find plenty of resources and plenty of podcasts where he discusses this in detail.

So, should you try it? I don’t see why not. The important thing to remember, as I said earlier, is to practice breathing deep and from the diaphragm. You will need to slow your pace to practice this. Eventually, you can work your way back to your normal pace. But I believe you will find that once you do get back to that favored pace, you will have more energy to run further than before. And who does’t want to run further? And have extra energy to boot?

Let me know if you give it a go. I’d love to hear about your results!

What is the craziest piece of advice you’ve gotten about running?


One Response to Want More Running Energy? My Lips Are Sealed!

  1. David Hardt says:

    thank you for being so great and getting me back on track in my writing world..it makes me feel so much better everyday!

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