What Are The Best Ways To Increase Lung Capacity For Running?
Like all endurance sports, lung capacity is important and increasing lung capacity is vital in any endurance activity.
It plays a large role in how well you can perform, especially when it comes to endurance sports, such as running.
In this article, we look at how to improve your lung capacity and what it means to us as runners. As well as what you can do to increase your lung capacity. So you can increase your speed, lower your fatigue and run faster.
What is Lung Capacity? – What Should You know?
Lung capacity is important for a variety of reasons. First lung capacity is measured by the amount of air that your lungs can hold. This means the more oxygen you can supply the lungs with, the greater amount of oxygen that can reach your bloodstream.
By increasing the capacity of your lungs, you will be able to increase your endurance, speed up your recovery, and just overall feel stronger and fitter.
Lung function declines with age, so once you reach your thirty’s you are likely to start seeing a decline in lung performance. So if you wondering how to increase your lung capacity for running there are some tips you can follow, so continue on reading.
Tips To Improve Lung Capacity in Running
Often as a beginner, you find yourself gasping for air while running. this is often caused by the lack of fitness and conditioning and rather than something wrong with your running style.
Slow Down The Running
You see when running, the harder or faster you run, the more oxygen you will need to supply to the muscles. That is one of the reason’s why so many beginners become exhausted. So by starting slow and keeping it to a conversation pace, you will able to slowly increase the amount of oxygen to your muscles.
By following the simple tips below, you will be able to slow your runs down to gain maximum benefit:
Focus on the long run while keeping it slow. The weekly long-run is important in increasing your red blood cells. Not only that, it will increase the growth of capillaries, strengthen muscles and the heart.
Increase the frequency of runs. To build more cell mitochondria and capillaries you need to increase the training stimulus. So increasing the days of running will often help improve the amount of oxygen to your bloodstream.
After you have started to slow down your runs, the next step in the process is to improve your breathing patterns.
Breathing Techniques To Increase Endurance & Lung Capacity
Deep Belly Breathing
There have been multiple studies that show that deep breathing help increases lung capacity. So, focus on deep breathing and use all the respiratory muscles (diaphragm) available.
Many runners breathe through their chest rather than their belly, and by focusing on belly breathing vs chest breathing you will be able to engage the diaphragm more.
By chest breathing, you are not only restricting the engagement of the diaphragm but limiting the amount of oxygen into the lungs. By following this method of breathing you are ultimately breathing shallow, or what is known as thoracic breathing.
To practice deep breathing follow the instructions below:
1. First lie flat on your back. and keep the shoulders relaxed. Place one hand on your chest and the other hand on the stomach.
2. Start by breathing slow, it should take around 10 seconds to fully inhale. Try to fill the lungs with as much air as possible.
3. Once you have filled the lungs with air, hold your breath for 10 seconds. Then start to exhale slowly, this exhaling should take you roughly 10-12 seconds. While exhaling focus on pulling your belly button in and push the air out as if you are whistling.
Doing this deep breathing exercise will teach your body to activate the diaphragm more while breathing. So, we recommend performing this exercise multiples times a day for the best improvement.
Coordinating breathing while running (also known as rhythmic breathing) has been proven to help discover the body’s natural breathing pattern. In turn, it can help create a more stable running technique and reduce impact and injuries from not being relaxed when running.
Most runners find that breathing takes place every certain stride length or number. This can be anywhere from 3-4 strides, and by adjusting this breathing routine you can control your breathing to the pace you are running.
Breathing patterns like the 2:1, where you breathe in every two steps and exhale during each step. The 3:1 pattern involves breathing in every three breaths while exhaling every 2nd step.
To find the right pattern involves some trial and error and depends on the speed, intensity, and terrain you are running on. For slow-running or beginners, a 2:2 or 2:3 pattern typically works well.
The more you practice rhythmic breathing the more you will be able to control the oxygen going into the lungs. Ultimately relaxing your form and delivering more oxygen to the muscles.
Below are a few other breathing techniques you can use to improve your lung capacity in running.
Advanced Methods to Improve Lung Capacity in Runners
If you are a more experienced runner and have your breathing under control, there are some more advanced methods to improving lung capacity.
One of these methods is altitude training. Altitude training is used widely by professional runners leading up to important events.
Scientific studies have widely proved that training at high elevation and depriving the body of oxygen improves red blood cell count and haemoglobin levels.
By improving these two levels, the runner can improve their blood oxygen-carrying capacity. In turn, it will help them to use oxygen better and then convert it into energy.
Once the runner goes back to sea-level training, the benefits of altitude can stay with the runner for up to three weeks.
Unfortunately, there are some downsides to altitude training. Symptoms of fatigue, illness, and slower training are all part in parcel with training at high elevation. Because of this, many runners spend weeks acclimatizing to the altitude levels before increasing the training load.
How To Keep Your Lungs Healthy?
Following the tips to improve lung function will only work if you look after your lung health. There is no reason to look at ways to improve your lung capacity unless you already take care of your lungs.
So by following these simple guidelines below, you will be able to keep your lungs in a healthy condition.
Stop smoking. If you are a regular smoker, you will already know that smoking reduces the capacity of the lungs. It has also been proven to cause different types of cancer. By stopping smoking you will be able to run more comfortably and breathe much easier.
Use a breathing mask. If you live in cold climates like Sweden, wearing a breathing mask during the winter months can help protect the lungs from cold air. Masks like the Airtrim help change the temperature of air that reaches the lungs.
Focus on Your diet. Choosing foods rich in minerals and antioxidants can help the body release harmful toxins. Foods such as broccoli, carrots, lettuce, and cabbage will help to provide the body with the antioxidants it needs to repair itself
Stay away from heavily polluted areas. If you live in a congested city, try taking your runs into the trails or forest. By doing so you are eliminating the fumes from cars that ultimately affect your breathing and lung function.
Moving Forward in Your Training
Now you have some tips to help improve your lung capacity and increase your running efficiency. If you are looking to take your running to the next level, contact one of our running coaches today.
Our running coaches have years of dealing with all levels and can provide training plans and monthly coaching services. So, join one of the hundreds of happy runners we have helped over the past 10 years.